It's important for all types of women to know that you don't have to fit a prototype of what one person thinks is beautiful in order to be beautiful or feel beautiful.... People think, Sexy, big breasts, curvy body, no cellulite. It's not that. Take the girl at the beach with the cellulite legs, wearing her bathing suit the way she likes it, walking with a certain air, comfortable with herself. That woman is sexy. Then you see the perfect girl who's really thin, tugging at her bathing suit, wondering how her hair looks. That's not sexy.
JENNIFER LOPEZ, Readers Digest, Aug. 2003
|Urban interpretation of Manet's Olympia|
watercolor, oil pastel on paper
Why are we as women so hard on our selves?
Why do we lack confidence in our abilities?
Why does it take so long (getting older) to realize we are competent, capable, incredible and fabulous just the way we are, with or without makeup, plastic surgery or other stuff?
Why? Why? Why?
In reading several biographies in magazines by and about women, one of the things I have noticed in older women is them commenting they wish what they know now they knew when they were younger. Younger meaning twenties, thirties.
I wonder about and question how is it that so many women are insecure about their looks, their abilities and talents. Our hair is too straight, too kinky, our breasts are too big, too little, our legs are too long, muscular, our bellies to big, too flat, our noses, lips, etc., one could go on and on about how self conscious and critical we are of ourselves.
Until we reach an age where it doesn’t matter anymore.
Or until we reach a point where we don’t care anymore.
Somehow on the path of life, I think in our younger years or preadolescent years we become self conscious of our bodies, our selves. I think we begin to compare and wish for straight noses, blonde hair, or big boobs or long legs or curly hair or something other than our self.
I think the majority of these conversations go on in our heads because we are too embarrassed to say what we don’t like about our self out loud or do say it outloud.
And also I think even if someone says you are okay the way you are, we don’t always believe it.
I really thing this needs to change and in a serious way. What messages can young girls receive to support her in not falling into any of the traps of self-depreciating behavior?
One thing I think is that it goes back to families. What kind of message do we send our daughters when we comment on what they have done or think about doing. Try to have conversations about loving who they are and how they look. Discuss peer pressure, realistic expectations and letting her know she can always count on you (her parent to be there).
In my story, I had a father that thought nothing of calling me a dummy on a regular basis and I also heard Aunt Jemima on a regular basis, there were worse things but that is still pretty bad - no horrible for a preadolescent girl, I didn’t have a chance. My self- esteem didn’t exist.
One book that is an excellent resource for parents is Self-Esteem: A Family Affair by Jean Illsley Clarke. It is a developmental book that lists the stages of development and messages it is important to hear to support positive self- esteem. It lists affirmations a child can receive beginning at birth with: I am glad you are a boy/girl. Affirmations can be verbal and nonverbal.
Beginning affirmations are about being and being accepted. Then she lists affirmations for doing (for learning). Affirmations for thinking, affirmations for identity (learning who we are), affirmations for structure and affirmations for sexuality.
In her book she lists the ages at which receiving the message as a young child is important, but also that at any age a message can apply.
|woman holding up the world|
mixed media on wood
This is one approach. Maybe it can make some shifts in women’s perspectives of themselves.
I am positive that experiences in early childhood are important. Experiences in problem- solving, exploring and learning about self and others are important components of most preschool curriculums.
One large factor I haven’t addressed, for a reason, is the plethora of advertisements to buy cosmetics and this and that to make one look or feel beautiful. I think the issue is deeper than that. I don’t think it wrong to wear makeup or lipstick or dress nicely. That’s the outside. My main concern is the inside. What happens when the inside voice lacks confidence and self- esteem. Then we make bad choices.
Each and every female on the planet is beautiful and has the capacity to be who they want to be. Really it’s each and every child but I am focusing on women.