Inspire Your Daughter This Week!

This piece is by Jess Weiner and was originally posted on The Huffington Post. I encourage everyone to check out what the Dove campaign is doing.  In this piece Jess Weiner tells mothers how important it is to work with the daughters on building self confidence.  Our application Beauty Mirror For Girls is a great way for mom to work with their daughters on beauty while using something that kids love- technology.With the app, girls create customized slides of what makes them a beautiful person. For example one girl took a picture of herself in a tree and wrote about being brave. In working with girls I have found that the Beauty Mirror app has the most impact when a parent makes the beauty messages with their daughter and then encourage them to look over their slides regularly.  We would love to here what activities you do to help build self confidence in your daughters!

Inspire Your Daughter, Change The World.

Throughout my career, I’ve had one foot planted in the Heartland, working with women and girls across America to strengthen their self-confidence, and I’ve had one foot in Hollywood, working with media executives to develop more empowering, honest stories that truly speak to the girls I’ve come to know. No matter where I travel or whom I speak with, the core issue we end up addressing is always the same: today’s young woman is feeling more conflicted and concerned about her image and value than ever before.

Here’s a sobering fact: when girls feel bad about their looks, 70 percent disconnect from life, avoiding normal activities like attending school or even giving their opinion. Sure, we all have bad days and moments when we want to pull the blanket over our heads, but when an entire generation of future leaders, thinkers and mothers disconnects from life because they are unhappy with their appearance, the possible repercussions on our society are profound.

Here’s some good news: Girls of all ages overwhelmingly report that they still value their mothers over celebrities and supermodels as their number-one source of inspiration. Moms and mentors across America, here’s my invitation to you: Own that special relationship with the young girl in your life and start taking simple actions to build her self-esteem.

Everyone has an opportunity to make a difference in a girl’s self-esteem, and we should all commit ourselves to helping girls build a positive relationship with beauty so that they can reach their full potential.

You don’t have to have all the right words. You don’t even have to pretend to know the lyrics to her favorite song — but know that when you choose to spend time with your daughter, she notices. When you choose to talk to her about the real issues in her life, and when you make yourself available to listen to her, she will open up to you. When you engage her mind and allow her to teach you about her world, she will feel more connected to you. That relationship and that trust, built over time, will give America’s young girls the confidence and resilience they need to do amazing things as adults.

I hope everyone will take the time this weekend to start making girls feel better about themselves and their place in the world.

***

This weekend marks the first-ever Dove Self-Esteem Weekend, the largest effort to date in support of girls’ self-esteem. From Oct. 22 through Oct. 24, parents and educators, along with national and grassroots organizations nationwide, will be hosting self-esteem events in their communities to inspire young girls. It’s a bold new vision for Dove as it sets out to create a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. As we shed light on some of the most pressing issues facing girls’ self-esteem, it’s important to provide tools and resources to help concerned adults navigate this broad topic. You can find information on local events as well as free tool-kits with conversation-starters and activity recommendations to host your own self-esteem event at www.dovemovement.com.

Jess Weiner is a Dove Global Self-Esteem Ambassador and author of “A Very Hungry Girl” and “Life Doesn’t Begin 5 Pounds from Now.” Learn more at www.jessweiner.com.

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Puffy lips don’t make you beautiful or do they?

Can changing your appearance have you clearly see that you were already beautiful and that the change was unnecessary?

I visited a friend who the day prior had gotten her first lip injection.  There was some bruising and she felt like she had duck lips and was really regretting the decision.  She got the lip injection because she had always been dissatisfied with how small her upper lip was.  As her friend, I never noticed how small her lip was but am often envious of how toned and fit she is and that she has the endurance to ride her bike 20-30 miles.  Once again I am reminded of how we focus on what we do not like about ourselves rather than all that makes us beautiful.  We need to focus more on what is fabulous about ourselves – that is exactly why I made the application Beauty Mirror. I wonder if my friend used my iPhone app every day for 10 days prior to going to the doctor if she would have done it?  And at the same time,  I do not disagree with her decision because it is fun to experiment with beauty that is why my hair has been blond, brown, red, black, and cotton candy pink.

Changing how we look can lead to a variety of emotions from joy to horror.  The process of changing her face gave my friend more appreciation of what she looks like everyday, that her smaller lips perfectly fit her face and make her beautiful.

My friend was feeling really bad about her appearance and embarrassed by what others may think of her new lips.  I recommend that she enjoy the new lips, wear bright lip stick and have fun with it.  The worst thing she could do is feel bad about something she could not change.

We play with our beauty with the clothes we buy, our make-up, new hair cuts or colors, and sometimes with plastic things being put on or in us.  I encourage us to see what we do with beauty as a choice and as play rather than as fixing ourselves.  While playing dress up we, as my friend did, may discover that we are actually most beautiful with the lips we were born with.  We may also discover, as I did, that we are even more eye pleasing with long fake eyelashes but grateful that they are removable.

Enjoy your beauty with or without the puffy lips, but never forget that who you are is  beautiful.

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Perfection

This this piece was originally posted by the author Dan Pearce on his blog: Single Dad Laughing.  I wanted to include it as part of our blog because for many of us beauty is Perfection and we need to recognize the beauty in being real.

As a warning, the following post was written in complete desperation. I have recently learned some very sobering truths from people that I love dearly. These truths have set in motion a quest within me to do whatever I can to make a change. Today is not geared at funny. Today is geared at something greater. Read it to the very end. I promise you will be affected in a way you have always needed to be. I spent more than twelve hours writing this post because its message is that important to me.

I wonder. Am I the only one aware that there is an infectious mental disease laying siege on us right now? There is a serious pandemic of “Perfection” spreading, and it needs to stop. Hear me out because this is something for which I am passionately and constantly hurting. It’s a sickness that I’ve been trying to put into words for years without much success. It’s a sickness that I have personally struggled with. It’s a sickness that at times has left me hiding in dark corners and hating myself.

And chances are it’s hit you too.

What is the disease called “Perfection”? Perhaps a list of its real-life symptoms will help you better understand it. We live in communities where people feel unconquerable amounts of pressure to always appear perfectly happy, perfectly functional, and perfectly figured. “Perfection” is much different than perfectionism. The following examples of “Perfection” are all real examples that I have collected from experiences in my own life, from confidential sources, or from my circle of loved ones and friends. If you actually stop to think about some of these, you will cry as I did while writing it. If you don’t, maybe you’re infected with way too much of this “Perfection” infection.

“Perfection” is a wife who feels trapped in a marriage to a lazy, angry, small man, but at soccer practice tells the other wives how wonderful her husband always is. “Perfection” keeps people from telling the truth, even to themselves. My husband is adorable. He called me a whore this week because I smiled at a stranger. When I started crying, he said he had a game to go watch. I love him so much.

“Perfection” is a husband who is belittled, unappreciated, and abused by his wife, yet works endlessly to make his marriage appear incredible to those around him. “Perfection” really does keep people from being real about the truth.  You would have laughed, guys. She said that I suck at my job and will never go anywhere in life. Then she insinuated that I was a fat, rotting pile of crap. Isn’t she the best?

“Perfection” is a daughter with an eating disorder that keeps it hidden for years because she doesn’t want to be the first among her family and friends to be imperfect. She would give anything to confront it, but she can’t because then the “Perfect” people would hate her as much as she hates herself for it.

“Perfection” is when a son has a forbidden addiction, and despises himself for it. “Perfection” makes us believe that nobody else could understand what it is like to be weak and fall prey to the pressures of the world.

“Perfection” is a man who loathes himself for feeling unwanted attraction toward other men.

“Perfection” is a couple drowning in debt, but who still agree to that cruise with their friends because the words “we don’t have the money” are impossible ones to push across their lips.

“Perfection” is a mom hating herself because she only sees that every other mom around her is the perfect mother, the perfect wife, and the perfect neighbor. I’d give anything to be Mrs. Jones. Today she ran 34 miles, cooked six complete meals, participated in a two-hour activity with each of her seven children, hosted a marriage class with her husband, and still had time to show up for Bunco. What this mom doesn’t know is that Mrs. Jones is also at home crying right now because the pressure to be “Perfect” never lets up.

“Perfection” is a dad hating himself because he can’t give the same thing to his kids that other dads do, and then hates himself further because he takes his self-loathing out on his kids behind closed doors. You know what would have been nice? If you were never born. Do you realize how much money I’d have right now? Now come give Daddy a hug because I can force you to give me validation.

“Perfection” is a child hating herself because the boys at school call her fat, and when she goes home she tells her mom that school was fine. Her mom never stops to question why her daughter doesn’t have any friends, becaue her mom doesn’t want to think that anything might be less than “Perfect”.

“Perfection” is a man feeling like a smaller man because his neighbor just pulled in with a new boat.

“Perfection” is a woman who is so overwhelmed that she thinks about killing herself daily. “Perfection” makes it so that she never will because of the things people will think if she does. How could I make my suicide look like an accident? If I kill myself, I don’t want anybody knowing that I ever had any problems. She never stops to look at why she wants to do it, because healing means admitting imperfection.

“Perfection” is a man who everybody heralds as perfect, and inside he is screaming to be seen as the faulty human being that he always has been. Because to no longer be “the perfect one”, that would be freeing.

“Perfection” is a woman having an affair because she’s too afraid to confront the imperfection in her marriage.

“Perfection” is a twelve-year-old boy killing himself because he is ashamed that he can’t stop masturbating.

Stop, and read that one again.

There is a twelve-year-old boy buried 20 miles from where I sit because the “Perfection” that has infected the people around him infected him to the point that he deemed his own life worthless. “Perfection” pushed him to take his own life over something most of us would consider negligible in the life of any teenage boy.

“Perfection” is my friend’s cousin swallowing hundreds of pills because she just got the news that she was pregnant, out of wedlock, and the shame was too much to bear. She was only attempting to cause a miscarriage. 24 hours later, she closed her eyes and never opened them again. She is dead because of the “Perfection” infecting those around her. We’d rather you die than shame this family. Thanks for taking care of that, honey. By the way, we’ll do the right thing and make ourselves out to be the victims now. We have to. We’re infected with “Perfection”.

I could go on. This is all a small sampling of the disease called “Perfection”. You have brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, extended family members, neighbors, friends, and children who are ALL these things, yet none of us will ever know. “Perfection” is a hideous monster with a really beautiful face. And chances are you’re infected. The good news is, there is a cure.

Be real.

Embrace that you have weakness. Because everybody does. Embrace that your body is not perfect. Because nobody’s is. Embrace that you have things you can’t control. We all have a list of them.

Here’s your wake-up call:

You aren’t the only one who feels worthless sometimes.

You aren’t the only one who took your frustrations out on your children today.

You aren’t the only one who isn’t making enough money to support your lifestyle.

You aren’t the only one who has questions and doubts about your religion.

You aren’t the only one who sometimes says things that really hurt other people.

You aren’t the only one who feels trapped in your marriage.

You aren’t the only one who gets down and hates yourself and you can’t figure out why.

You aren’t the only one that questions your sexual orientation.

You aren’t the only one who hates your body.

You aren’t the only one that can’t control yourself around food.

Your husband is not the only husband who’s addiction sends him online for his sexual fulfillment instead of to you.

Your wife is not the only wife that is mean and vindictive and makes you hate yourself.

Why didn’t somebody, anybody, put their arm around that 12-year old boy and let him know that they loved him and would always love him? What was he being told and taught that he would end his own life over something that almost no teenager can control? Maybe that beautiful and wonderful boy would still be alive if even one person had broken down the “Perfection” that completely controlled all those in his life from whom he desperately craved validation.

Why didn’t somebody, anybody, tell a beautiful pregnant girl that there was nothing so big in life that it couldn’t be made right. Maybe that incredible young woman would still be alive. Maybe her now one-year-old child would be learning to walk or say “Mommy” right now. Maybe.

Maybe.

The cure is so simple.

Be real.

Be bold about your weaknesses and you will change people’s lives. Be honest about who you actually are, and others will begin to be their actual selves around you. Once you cure yourself of the disease, others will come to you, asking if they can just “talk”. People are desperate to talk. Some of the most “perfect” people around you will tell you of some of the greatest struggles going on. Some of the most “perfect” people around you will break down in tears as they tell you how difficult life is for them. Turns out some of the most “perfect” people around us are human beings after all, and are dying to talk to another human being about it.

You’ll love them for it. And you’ll love yourself even more.

Let’s not forget this quote: “I went out to find a friend and could not find one there. I went out to be a friend, and friends were everywhere.” Somebody who is being a friend doesn’t spread “Perfection”. Somebody who is being a friend spreads “Real”. Then, and only then, can we all grow together.

I am not perfect, nor do I want anybody to think of me as such. Here’s my dose of real:

I once stole a box of money that was meant for a child with cancer. There was more than $150 inside. That was 12 years ago, and I still hate the person in me that did that.

I believe in God, but not religion. It took me 30 years to find the courage to say that. It took me 30 years to believe that I could be a good man and still believe that.

I once got so angry at my wife that I hit the wall. The dent is still there, haunting me every time I see it because I never thought that was something I would do.

I once sat in my bedroom crying uncontrollably because I felt like everybody thought I was fat and ugly. I was a full grown man.

There are some people I avoid bumping into in public because I feel like I’m not as good as them.

I judge people harshly who share the same features that I hate about myself.

Sometimes I’m sad. Sometimes I’m not funny. Sometimes I just want to be alone. Sometimes I stay at home on a weekend because I just don’t want to see the “Perfection” going on around me. Sometimes I want to drop-kick a perfect person’s head across the room.

“Perfection” infects every corner of society. It infects our schools. It infects neighborhoods. It infects our workplaces. This is not to say that there aren’t a lot of genuinely, happy people. I am one of those people. Most of the time. There is nothing more beautiful than a person finding true happiness in who they are and what they believe. No, this is not me trying to diminish the happiness in others. This is merely me pathetically attempting to put a face on a problem that I see everywhere but few people ever notice.

This is me, weeping as I write, asking the good people of the world to find somebody to put their arm around and be “real”. This is me, wishing that people would realize how beautiful they are, even with all of their imperfections. This is me, sad and desperate for the girls in this world to love themselves. This is me, a very imperfect man, trying to help others feel a little more perfect by asking you to act a little less perfect.

Will you help me spread “Real”? Tell us below just how perfect you aren’t. You never know who might be alive tomorrow because you were real today. You never know who needs to feel like they aren’t alone in their inability to be perfect. Even if you comment as an anonymous guest, please comment. Tell us what you struggle with. Tell a sad or dark secret. Get vulnerable. Get real. Let’s see if we can get 10,000 people showing the world that we’re not defined by perfection.

And please, share this post on Facebook, twitter, and your blog. If you want the people around you to start being real, you have to be real first. I believe in the power of numbers and that enough people reading it might actually help shake down a few of the problems we cause for each other. If it’s your first time here, we’d love to have you follow us. I promise it’s not always this intense (or nearly this long). I’ll post something really funny tomorrow.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing Being Real

FOLLOW-UP NOTE: One week after I originally posted this article, I posted a response called The CURE for “Perfection”. Click here to read it and be part of the cure.

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Raising Powerful and Beautiful Daughters

This is a powerful article full of great tips, it was originally posted on PBS Parents.

How do you raise a powerful girl and what does that mean?

Powerful girls grow up feeling secure in themselves. They learn to take action, making positive choices about their own lives and doing positive things for others. They think critically about the world around them. They express their feelings and acknowledge the feelings and thoughts of others in caring ways. Powerful girls feel good about themselves and grow up with a “can-do” attitude. Of course, strong girls may (like all of us) have times of insecurity and self-doubt, but these feelings aren’t paralyzing because the girls have learned to work through their problems. Powerful girls will grow up to lead full, valuable lives.

Here are some of our experts’ ideas to help you raise powerful daughters.

Encourage your daughter to pursue a passion.
“Full engagement with an activity she loves will give her the opportunity to master challenges, which will boost her self-esteem and resilience and affirm intrinsic values rather than appearance,” says Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out. “Having a passion lets her go shoot baskets or play an instrument, for example, instead of being swept up in online drama.”

Let her have a voice in making decisions.
“Whenever possible, let her make constructive choices about her life. Let her choose her own clothes, within appropriate limits. Give her a voice in what after-school activities she participates in and how many she wants to do (as long as it works for the rest of the family, too). Remember that knowing what she cares about most will come from trying some things and finding she doesn’t like them, as well as from finding things she loves to do,” recommends Jane Katch, Ed.D., author of They Don’t Like Me.Your daughter might need to make a commitment for a short time for an activity (one soccer season) but when that’s over, it’s okay to try something different!”

Identify the values most important to your family.
“Consider the ways you convey these values, especially by example. What are the moments in your daily life when you can model the values you want your daughter to learn?” asks Simmons. “What traits and strengths do you want your daughter to develop as she grows?” asks Meg White, M.A. “See if these qualities are reflected in how you parent.”

Encourage her to solve issues on her own rather than fixing things for her.
“When parents take over, girls don’t develop the coping skills they need to handle situations on their own. Ask your daughter to consider three strategies she might use to deal with a situation, and then ask her about the possible outcomes. Let her decide what she wants to do (within reason). Even if you disagree with her choice, you give your daughter a sense of control over her life and show her that she is responsible for her decisions,” says Simmons.

Encourage her to take physical risks.
“Girls who avoid risks have poorer self-esteem than girls who can and do face challenges,” says JoAnn Deak, Ph.D., author of Girls Will Be Girls. “Urge your daughter to go beyond her comfort zone — for example, encourage a girl who’s scared to ride her bike downhill to find just a small hill to conquer first.” Catherine Steiner-Adair, Ed.D., co-author of Full of Ourselves: A Wellness Program to Advance Girl Power, Health and Leadership, agrees. “It’s important to help even non-athletic girls develop some physical competence and confidence when they’re young. Whether it’s through team or individual sports, girls need to form a physical relationship with their body that builds confidence.”

Get girls working together.
“Girls who work cooperatively in school or who problem-solve together do much better in taking large risks or facing challenges. These girls report an incredible sense of accomplishment and feeling of competence, both of which give a huge boost to self-esteem,” says Deak. “Encourage your daughter to participate in team-building activities or join organizations that rely on teamwork.”

Let your daughter know you love her because of who she is, not because of what she weighs or how she looks.
“Encourage your girl to eat in healthy ways, but don’t over-obsess over what she eats. Listen to her opinions (about food, and other things) and show appreciation for her uniqueness, to help her develop herself into the person she wants to be,” says Steiner-Adair. “Comment on the way she carries herself into a room or the ideas she is expressing before commenting on her looks. She needs you to know her insides and validate the developing person within, as well as noticing her emerging young womanhood,” adds White.

Allow her to disagree with you and get angry.
“Raising a powerful girl means living with one. She must be able to stand up to you and be heard, so she can learn to do the same with classmates, teachers, a boyfriend, or future bosses,” says White. Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D., and Sharon Lamb, Ed.D., co-authors of Packaging Girlhood, write, “Girls need guidance about how to stay clear in their disagreements, and they need support for not giving up their convictions to maintain a false harmony. Help girls to make considered choices about how to express their feelings, and to whom.” Steiner-Adair notes that “Not all girls will want to do this, especially shy girls, but you can still help them develop the skills.”

Address girl fighting when you see it.
“Talk with girls about relational violence (such as gossip, rumor-spreading and exclusion) as well as physical violence (hitting or fighting). But don’t assume all girls are mean, and avoid saying ‘girls will be girls’ when you witness girls engaging in exclusive cliques and clubs. Instead, affirm girls’ relational strengths and sense of fairness, help them identify and hold on to their strong feelings, like anger, and encourage them to practice more direct, positive ways to effect change in their relationships,” says Brown.

Make regular time to listen to your girl.
“By creating consistent, predictable times when she knows that you are receptive and available to listen — like riding in a car, taking a walk, or just sitting reading — you will eventually be let into her inner world. Let her use you as a sounding board to sort out what she is going through, without solving problems for her. The answers that come from within her are the ones she will eventually live by,” says White.

Listen more than you talk.
“When we talk to girls, they often experience it as us talking at them, and they not only stop listening, they stop thinking and reflecting. But when we listen to them, they have to think about what they are saying, and they tend to reflect more. And we need to keep an open dialogue — we can’t dismiss their chatter about ups and downs of friendship as trivial, and then expect them to talk to us about the important stuff,” says Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D., co-author of Mom, They’re Teasing Me.

Limit your daughter’s exposure to the media and popular culture when she is young.
“This will give her more time to develop her own ideas, creativity, and imagination from her direct first-hand experience. As she grows, media messages will start to get in, so having rules and routines from the start can help your daughter control her own experiences as she gets older,” says Diane Levin, Ph.D, author of So Sexy So Soon.

Help her process the messages in the media.
“Help her avoid the narrow focus on appearance and consumerism that often dominates the media. By helping your daughter process the messages she sees on the screen and develop her own ideas about them, you can prepare her to better resist the media’s pervasive stereotypes,” says Levin. “Help her notice the bigger picture — for example, how looking like her latest teen idol can be fun but also connects her with a lot of other stuff she might not have noticed or thought about. Wonder aloud about more general patterns you see, like how all those little purses hanging from everything might make it seem that all girls, even three-year-olds, are into shopping,” add Brown and Lamb.

Talk with her about the differences between sex in the movies and loving relationships in real life.
“It’s important to talk with your daughter about sex and sexuality in ways appropriate to her age and your values,” says Levin. “As she gets older it becomes increasingly important to help your daughter understand the difference between sexualized images in the media and healthy sexuality. Through give-and-take discussion, you can help her begin to understand the difference between the media’s presentation of sex and sexiness. You can talk about how sex is frequently portrayed without love, intimacy or emotion, or as part of caring relationships. When your daughter is old enough, you can begin to discuss what a mature, healthy, loving relationship — in which sex is a part — is all about.”

Acknowledge her struggles but keep a sense of perspective.
“We have to acknowledge the pain our daughters are experiencing, so they feel heard and accepted and empathized with. But we also need to put it into perspective, to stay calm and listen to what they are experiencing without projecting our own experiences onto theirs. Your daughter is having a different experience than you did, even if there are surface similarities,” says Cohen. “After all, she has something you didn’t have: you.”

Enjoy her!
“Having a powerful girl can be exciting and energizing. Find activities you both enjoy and do them regularly together. Maybe you both like cooking or having breakfast together, hiking or reading books,” says Katch. “Try to keep this connection as she gets older — if times ever get tough, you’ll appreciate this special bond you share!”

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The Swan Who Thinks Like an Ugly Duckling

I absolutely love this piece!!  Alisha Thomas authentically shares her struggle to see herself as beautiful.  I believe that this is so powerful and needs to be shared with young girls who feel they are going through an Ugly Duckling phase.  I plan to start speaking at schools and girls programs and am going to share this piece. Thank you Alisha!

When we were kids, we saw the meaning of beauty in Barbie dolls and fairy-tale princesses. When we became teenagers, we left behind those ideas and moved on to seeing beauty in Pop Stars and magazines. The years went on from there and we continued to find beauty in many different things and types of people, but most of us were never lucky enough to develop a sense of appreciation for our OWN beauty. We took those earlier ideas and built them up so high that our minds would begin to say, “A girl like me? THAT beautiful? Yeah right. I could never reach that level of beauty.”


It’s safe to say that I am one of those girls. And I have said that very same thing to myself on many different occasions. I am 22 years old and I have struggled with negative self-image for a very long time. I was the ugly duckling in school—you know, the little red headed kid who had freckles and teeth which resembled that of Bugs Bunny himself. And, like every ugly duckling, I eventually grew out of that stage and became my own version of a “swan”. Or, so I’m told.


But…I just can’t help but wonder…did anyone ever ask the swan how it felt after it transformed from an ugly duckling? Everyone just assumes the swan went from depressed to happy within the snap of a finger. Sure, it probably thought itself to be beautiful at first…but what about after it swam around with the other swans? Swans that were whiter or, perhaps, had a seemingly more perfect beak? If that swan was anything like me, I’d be willing to say–even though vastly changed in appearance–that swan still held those same insecurities and negative self-images in mind…just as she had done when she was a duckling.

And that’s exactly how I got where I am today. I grew up with this picture of myself; “I’m ugly. I’m not as pretty as the other girls. I will never be beautiful.” And, even though I did eventually grow out of that awkward stage of my life, those negative thoughts never left my mind.

To this day, I find that I’m still comparing myself to every beautiful girl that walks into my college classroom or passes me in the grocery store. I won’t allow any boy to come close to my heart because I know and accept that he’ll eventually break it…and leave me for someone who’s just a little bit better. And because of that, I can sit here and honestly say that I’ve never had a boyfriend…and I’ve never been kissed. I have missed out on so much of my life because of fear and lack of self-confidence. In my mind, there’s always someone better, or prettier, or smarter, or more beautiful.
But, you know what? I’m learning that these thoughts that plague my mind (and, I assume, many other girls’ minds) are nothing but a learned habit. A habit that has been formed from years of negative thought and self-doubt. So the question is, why do we allow this habit to continue when each and every one of us has the ability to put an end to it?

I say, today, we put the past behind us and we start again. I promise that tomorrow morning when I wake up, I won’t avoid looking into the mirror. With pride I’ll look into my own eyes and tell myself that I am beautiful, regardless of what or how other people think. I promise that, when I walk into class on Monday morning, or when I go to the grocery store, I won’t look at all of the other girls and tell myself they’re prettier than I am. I’ll stay confident and strong and be proud of myself as I am there amongst them. I promise the next time a worthy guy comes into my life, I won’t be afraid to give him my heart, for fear that he’ll give his to another. I promise to be proud of who I am, and comfortable in my own skin. My wish is that you will do the same.

I will end this post by saying that Beauty is a universal term with many different definitions. Are there any two people who think of beauty the same way? My guess is no. However, I think it’s safe to say that, in the end, it all comes down to being the same thing.

As a very intelligent character from one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays once said… “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Well, dear Juliet, I think you’ve got it. Though I know you were probably going in a different direction with those words, I think you hit the nail right on the head when they’re applied to the idea of beauty.

Though there are many different types of roses—red ones, white ones, yellow ones, pink ones—in the end, they’re still the same thing: sweet smelling roses. And this very same idea applies to us. Though there are many different types of women…in the end? We’re all beautiful.

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TV Beauty Defines Beauty

This is an interview with Teri Hatcher on Beauty from Oprah.com

Photo: George Burns/Harpo Studios

Her makeup-free Facebook photos inspired women everywhere to stand up and cheer, sparking a national conversation about truth and beauty. Now, after taking Oprah’s stage, Teri Hatcher is continuing the discussion on Oprah.com.

The Desperate Housewives actress opens up about why beauty isn’t defined by a dress size, what she learned from her mother about aging and how women can stop criticizing—and start embracing—themselves.

Q: What is your definition of beauty?

A: Beauty is a combination of qualities. I don’t think one can deny that certain people or things feel aesthetically pleasing. But without an equally pleasing being behind that form, there is no beauty there.

Q: When do you feel most beautiful?

A: When I’m my most healthy. And by that, I mean eating right, exercising, lifting weights and also sleeping well, experiencing joy, seeing friends, camping, hiking, laughing. When that combination is in balance, I feel strong, focused, happy and definitely my most beautiful. It is certainly not based on a scale or a dress size.

Q: Why do you think women spend so much time trying to fight aging or change the things they don’t like about themselves?

A: When you look in the mirror, your “appearance,” that outer you, is what you see first. We are bombarded with and marketed an “anti-aging” message that doesn’t focus on anything but how to either stop or reverse the “damage” life has done to you. There are no ads that say, “Spread this cream on your body and be a beautiful human being.” “Wear this girdle to squeeze away your short temper and jealous acts.” We are groomed to be “prettier than her” or “not as pretty as her.” There is no message to teach us to stop comparing and just deal with ourselves. There are only few voices out there teaching self-acceptance. Acceptance is different than apathy. It is important to strive to be your best self, your healthiest, most productive, joyful self. But that is going to be a different answer to everyone. There is no “one right look” for that. So it’s a harder thing to sell.

Changing what you don’t like about yourself can be empowering, and that’s not a bad thing. Feeling secure enough to own what is weak and missing from either your body, mind or spirit and to commit to action to change it is a good thing. Feeling not good enough or “less than” is not a good thing. And spending energy trying to change in order to feel like your innate human value is higher is an endless trap. That esteem we women look for is not going to be in a bottle of cream; it’s going to have to come from inside.

Q: How can women stop criticizing—and start embracing—themselves?

A: Well, one way to do that quickly is to get outside of your daily world. Do something different, like donate some time at a school or shelter that is not a part of your regular community activities. Bringing new people and perspectives into your life while you are giving back is a quick way to build up good feelings and feedback about yourself. When you are helping a needy child with homework or reading to a lonely person stuck in a hospital, you are not thinking about how many wrinkles you have. On a daily basis, we need to work hard to acknowledge that it’s a total waste of energy to be mean to ourselves, to continually criticize. If you do want to change something, then take that energy and work toward changing it. If you don’t need to change anything, then choose to be kind to you. Role model that behavior to your children and the other women in your life. Show, actually demonstrate, that it’s okay to put yourself first sometimes. That your value is equal to anyone else in your family.

Q: What do you wish you had learned as a child about beauty and confidence?

A: I wish the circumstances of my childhood had allowed me to think that I was inherently good. That my being, that the essence of me was good. Children need to have experiences that leave them with a great sense of trust in that they are good, capable, talented, smart, valued people. That they have hope and are inspired to affect the world in a positive way. If they have that, then beauty and the perception of beauty in themselves and others will follow. If you are confident, then you can be beautiful no matter what you look like. If you are not confident, you won’t be beautiful to yourself no matter what you look like.

Q: What messages do you think should be communicated by the media?

A: I think first and foremost we should be managing our expectations. We can’t hope to live to be 100 years old but look 30 doing it. We need to hear that beauty is encapsulated in the whole of a being, not just a flawless, perfect moment captured for the cover of a magazine.

Q: Do you see any positive examples being put out there?

A: Well, Oprah of course. And Dove tried a campaign with different-aged women of all walks of life. I applaud them for exploring that new ground. I have no connection to that company, nor do I know if it was “successful.” We’ve spent decades being sold on an idea of perfection equaling beauty. It will take more than one random campaign to shift that perspective.

Q: What lessons have you learned from your own mother about aging?

A: This is interesting to me. I love my mom, let me start there. She’s a brave woman who’s done the best she could with the tools supplied growing up motherless in a poor area of Chicago in 1940. She is 75, and she has never put herself first. To a fault, she has taken care of everyone else in her life before her. I think concentrating on controlling everything around her has an illusion of creating safety. But that left her little time or energy to choose herself. Therefore, she’s spent 40 years of not eating right, not exercising, not resting or finding joy beyond ironing till 1 a.m. with a glass of wine. Like many, she’s had an emotional connection to food, junk food, and now struggles with joint and muscle issues that make it painful to get around.

My mom is a beautiful woman. I’ve always thought this even though she never acted like she was or even believed she was. But the truth is, she has lovely skin and deep brown eyes and when a joyous occasion compels it out, her smile and is glorious and honest. I wish with all my heart that she had spent time taking care of her health, and I’m glad she is doing that now. She’s eating healthier and getting on a reasonable exercise program. It’s never too late. Recently she told me she wants to get her “chin done.” Aging women collectively seem to hate their necks, that’s a fact. When I asked her why? She said—and I think this is brilliant—she said: “I don’t feel 75. I don’t want to look it.” So maybe that’s at the core of some of our aging issues too. We are aging, we can’t stop it, stopping it means death, but inside we still remember our first kiss, our first raise at work, our sexy honeymoons. We don’t feel ourselves old, so we don’t want to look that way either. I try with conscious effort to take care of myself so my daughter sees the value in her taking care of herself. I want to teach my daughter that she is worthwhile by feeling worthwhile myself.

Q: How do you stay in such good shape? Do you have any favorite indulgences?

A: I’m not in great shape now. People think if you’re thin you’re in shape. Not true. I have been in better health and am working to get back to that place. It’s been a difficult year to make exercise a priority. Try to find something you enjoy so you can stick to it. Reward your accomplishments; don’t punish your slipups.

Q: What are your top three tips for looking and feeling healthy?

A: Water, sleep, laughter. (Closely followed by exercise, travel, love and organic vegetables, fruits and protein.)

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Beauty Tips (Day 30)

For the last day of the September Beauty Message Challenge I wanted to end with something memorable. I read these Beauty Tips that are given by Audrey Hepburn in a friend’s bathroom and thought it was a great final piece to share.  I encourage everyone to post it in their bathroom, as my friend has done.

Beauty Tips by Audrey Hepburn

Beauty Tips by Audrey Hepburn

  • For attractive lips, Speak words of kindness.
  • For lovely eyes, Seek out the good in people.
  • For a slim figure, Share your food with the hungry.
  • For beautiful hair, Let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
  • For poise, Walk with the knowledge you’ll never walk alone.
  • People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; Never throw out anybody.
  • Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm.
  • As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.
  • The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
  • The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a Woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she knows.
  • And the beauty of a woman, with passing years only grows!
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