Loving You, Loving Me

Who do you let define your sexuality? Who defines whether you are good enough or not? Media,TV,me???

“Today you are you! That is truer than true!
There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”

-Dr. Seuss

You have curly hair, but you want it straight; you spend hundreds at the salon to get that look. You are curvy, but you want to be stick thin; you spend thousands to achieve that look you want. You have brown eyes, but you want blue; you spend money for those colored contacts to achieve that look. You are getting older, and you want to be young; thousands are spent to achieve this look. Yet, at the end of the day, you are “you” and you cannot change that.

We all want to be something we are not, and this feeling that we are less because we aren’t what we picture is making us depressed, anxious, moody, and insecure. Men struggle with this thinking, but not nearly as much as women. Women are trapped by it. We can become obsessed with it. Not only are grown women trapped by it, but six year old girls are reporting that they want to be thinner or prettier.

When you ask someone what they notice about another person, most of the time you will hear things such as their energy, their interests, or their unique quirks or personality. Rarely will it be about how someone looks. When looks do come up, they are usually in the context of extremes. When you get close to someone, how they look becomes less and less important.

This feeling of knowing someone well and no longer caring how they look, does not apply to how we view ourselves. In fact, the longer women are in their bodies the more critical they become. I work with men and women, and I have yet to hear two guys sitting together ripping their bodies apart. I don’t have to go further than the first coffee shop to listen in on two women doing that.

The conversation would look like this:

  • “My eyelashes are even falling out. I hate this.”
  • “My butt looks huge in these jeans.”
  • "I can't lose the baby weight. It's killing me."

All day every day we have these kinds of conversations. Imagine what we could give others if we quit obsessing about our imperfections. The next generation of girls would be so much healthier if their moms were not as obsessed with their imperfections. Marriages would be so much healthier if women loved and felt confident in the bodies where their souls reside.

Insecurity is created whenever the focus is on how one looks, rather than who you are.

How this happened and how we obtained this ideal standard of beauty is complicated. Yes, the media plays a part, however, most of the editors of popular magazines are women; it is women, not men, promoting this ideal of the perfect body or look.

In the United States, the majority of men are married to a woman who is 5’4’’ and weighs 135 pounds. Who are we as women if we give men the power to decide what is “sexy” or “desirable” anyway? When I talk to men regarding this topic, they say they aren’t looking for the perfect woman; they are looking for the woman who feels confident in her own skin.

A man is attracted to a woman who likes herself, and what he is looking for is hard to find. Most women are too busy beating themselves up for their flaws to entertain the thought that they are sexy and desirable in their own right. It doesn’t stop there; women who aren’t happy with themselves put pressure on their daughters to look the part they weren’t able to achieve. Rather than promoting their daughter's interests, they focus on her looks. Insecure moms create insecure daughters.

The way out of this madness requires small steps in changing how you think about yourself as well as others. Below are a few tips to help get you started:

1. Notice the first thoughts you have when you meet someone new. If you begin thinking of how they look, stop yourself. Ask them what they do or what makes them happy.

2. When your friends meet and begin talking about their face lifts, sagging eyes, or yellow teeth, interrupt them and tell them something you admire about them.

3. If your parents told you in any way that you wouldn’t be worthwhile if you didn’t look good, remember that you most likely had insecure parents (no matter how they masked it).

4. Most of the time when women feel bad about themselves, it involves their body. There is nothing better for your body or mind than movement. It makes you feel more confident, too.

5. Purchase magazines that promote healthy living, not perfect faces or bodies. I work in the media, and I can promise you that when you see models or celebrities, they don’t look like they do in the magazines. The magazines have perfect lighting, perfect clothing, perfect hair, perfect make-up and an ability to photoshop beyond your wildest dreams. They are NOT real.

In a book called Journey of the Heart the author encourages us to “stop worrying people will find out the real you and begin hoping they will.” Open yourself so others can see the real you. When you are comfortable with yourself, you have more energy to give and love others. Giving your power to a magazine, TV show, movie, or a person to depict whether you are good enough is not only heat breaking, it’s demeaning and abusive. –Mary Jo Rapini

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