Archives for posts with tag: body image

I refuse to be treated as less capable, weaker, dirty or impure for being a woman. Anisha Bhavnani

via My country’s problem with menstruation – CNN.com.

Anisha Bhavnani is a woman in India who has experienced first hand the stigma against women especially during their menses. In fifth grade, her first period arrived the day of a field trip. What should have been a beautifully memorable experience wasn’t.

“How did you go inside the temple then? Don’t you know you’re not supposed to? Hasn’t your mother told you that you can’t step inside a temple when you have your period? Call your mother tomorrow; I want to meet her!”

…The next day, I didn’t meet the teacher and she forgot all about it. But she had shamed me for entering the scary world of puberty, just because I’d visited a temple. What kind of human being does that to a harmless child?

My mother showed me that getting my period doesn’t make me a bad or abnormal person. But others don’t seem to agree. I see variations of this incident happening around me every day.

Thankfully it’s not just young women who are realizing things need to change. At least one man is realizing it and doing something about it.  Enter The Inventor Who Disrupted The Period Industry – Arunachalam Muruganantham (Menstral Man)

I am always thrilled by stories where the hero steps outside of a traditional and expected role. Here’s a man working against odds, with little support and ample ridicule to improve a situation that doesn’t even directly affect him. Menstruation, a topic that in many places is still completely taboo, where women are not considered worth the trouble of helping.

None of that seemed to phase Muruganantham, as school drop out who realized many women in his own country, India, couldn’t afford sanitary products and understood the dramatic impact on their lives. The documentary MENSTRUAL MAN, by Amit Virmani

tells the inspiring story of an unlikely hero who stood up for India’s ignored. A critical and audience favourite, the film underscores the importance of empowering women to combat poverty, and the power in every individual to make a difference. – See more at: MENSTRUAL MAN

The trailer:

The TEDxGateway Talk:

Sometimes it’s little things that make a difference. Sometimes it’s the big things. Muruganantham has taught us that you don’t have to share the same problem to be able to understand, empathize, show compassion and actually create a solution. We have the power, all we have to do is use it. Thanks to people like Anisha Bhavnani, Arunachalam Muruganantham and Amit Virmani things will change.

Wizard of Oz - Glinda

Wizard of Oz – Glinda

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Michelle Nicholson- Managing Editor-The Star Newspaper: March 6, 2015.

Michelle Nicholson- Managing Editor-The Star Newspaper: March 6, 2015.

Last month, just before International Women’s Day, our local paper ran the above editorial.  Considering our little paper is, well, quite little, I’m always impressed with the quality and content.  Michelle Nicholson’s editorial caught my eye and she has been gracious enough to allow me to reprint it here. I chose to wait awhile because I think we need reminders more often than once a year to ensure we don’t become complacent for the other 360+ days in the year. The editorial is simple enough, a gathering called Pamper Yourself Expo held in a very small community.  Just a blip on the radar.  But that’s the point.

There are fantastic women absolutely everywhere!  In sprawling cities, tiny towns, on farms, on the road, in their homes, in the workplace.  Wonderful women, super women, everyday women.  Women that make the world go round every moment of every day. Michelle recognized that the expo was filled with wonder women. Wendy, Betty and Janet, awesome women, and I’m sure they weren’t the only ones there.

A celebration of awesomeness. I’m glad to see more women admitting that we’re important.  Women who no longer just smile and say, “Oh it was nothing.”  It is something!  Our contributions are important, are meaningful, are needed.  There is no reason why we shouldn’t admit our awesomeness, our value and accomplishments. Michelle notes all too accurately,

How come we as women don’t see our own awesomeness or the awesomeness of the women around us on a more consistent basis? We need a day to celebrate being a woman.  Men don’t.  Telling.

It’s not easy to change our thought patterns, our habits or the way we look at ourselves and each other.  Our perceptions have been coloured for so long by society, patriarchal attitudes and poor representation in history that we’ve come to accept it as true reality rather than just an incomplete perception. However, we are women, staying the course, changing, flexible, adaptable, these are all traits that lurk under the surface within us if we haven’t already teased them to the surface.  It’s time, as Michelle says, to

remind each and every woman and myself:  you are awesome, you are loved, you have value and you can do it.

It’s not about one day a year, it’s about every single day.  Women step up to the plate every day.  We work, we love, we toil, we pick up the slack, we persevere.  Some days we succeed, some days we don’t, but we keep going.  It’s not about doing it alone, being a hero or being perfect.  I think International Women’s Day has it right.

We together: Stronger, Better

It’s time to look for the best in each other, to be part of the whole.  It’s not about competing or being better than someone else.  It’s about working together, being together and supporting each other – together.  It’s about today, and every other day too.

I am woman, hear me roar

In numbers too big to ignore

And I know too much to go back an’ pretend

‘Cause I’ve heard it all before

And I’ve been down there on the floor

No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

Helen Reddy – I Am Woman

A very special thank you to Michelle Nicholson from The Star for allowing me to share her thoughts with you.

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Photo Credit:  Jade Beall Photography from the "Bottle and Breast" shoot.  Rise Like Air has no ownership of this photo.

Photo Credit: Jade Beall Photography from the “Bottle and Breast” shoot.
Rise Like Air has no ownership of this photo.

I was reading Jade Beall’s FB post yesterday which included a photo from her “Bottle and Breast” shoot.  It was of the most beautiful mom Maveny and her sweet twin boys Oliver and Elliot.  What struck me the most was how much guilt this mom felt for things that are the most natural and common experiences of mothers in the world.  Breast feeding isn’t always easy or possible, isn’t now, never was.  Bearing children has never been a walk in the park for most women. At some point whether it’s pregnancy, labour and delivery, child rearing or letting go – at some point, it’s going to get tough.  Fair warning.

Yet somewhere we’ve gone from trying to empower women and mothers to judging them.  Empowerment means doing what’s right for your baby, yourself and your family.  That does not mean what’s right for anyone else.

About not being able to carry her beautiful babies to term Maveny laments, “Right off the bat I felt guilty for not being able to carry them until they were bigger.” About not being able to nurse and having to pump instead, she remembers, “I felt at the time this was another failure.” And about having to stop pumping and begin feeding her boys formula, “I was disappointed, but I reminded myself that our journey is not going to look like everyone else’s.”  And finally the realization and acceptance, that,

There is nothing wrong with that. I got what was most important to me, that time back to hold them and whisper things to them and enjoy our time uninterrupted. I had finally found my stride as a mother. I had found my delight.

Too many of us are trying to find a way to be the perfect mother.  Do it all, do it right, do it now.  That’s the mantra unconsciously muttered by countless mothers. And as if we aren’t hard enough on ourselves, we’ve got another array of mothers and women and whoever else judging our every move, ready to pounce on the slightest perceived infraction to perfect mothering. Most of us have experienced at least one such look down your nose type of comment, such as, “We wouldn’t introduce a pacifier,” or “I never laid little Stevie on his stomach ever!” or “Always carrying a baby spoils her,” or maybe it was phrased as an innocent question, “She’s still not sleeping through the night?” or “You use formula?” or my favourite, “He’s still not potty trained?”

I’m all in favour of opinions, just not always sharing them in every circumstance. No matter how hard we try we’re going to end up doing some things better than others. Parenting, no matter how well read or versed, is all ways a little bit of trial and error and a little bit of trial by fire.

The best thing any of us can be is supportive and patient rather than judgemental.

As women some of us will choose to become mothers, some will choose not to while yet others will have it thrust upon them and some will only be able to dream.  As Maveny said, “our journey is not going to look like everyone else’s. There is nothing wrong with that.”

Maveny’s story started me thinking about the process of going from a woman to a mother and the wide range of experience that entails. In the end all I have to ask, are your children loved, healthy and thriving? Then let’s toss the guilt.

As a Woman,
You join, you love.
You conceive, you love.
You carry, you love.
You birth, you love.

As a Mother,
You nourish, you love.
You teach, you love.
You protect, you love.
You listen, you love.
You worry, you love.
You hope, you love.
You argue, you love.
You guide, you love.

You weep, you love.
You support, you love.
You release, you love.
You watch, you love.
You wait, you love.
You smile, you love.

You accept, you love.
You love, you love.
You love.

Y    L

O   O

U   V

      E

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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Eating Disorder Services: "MIRROR" Print Ad by Clemenger BBDO Wellington

Eating Disorder Services: “MIRROR” Print Ad by Clemenger BBDO Wellington 

Believing is Seeing.  What are your beliefs showing you?

A quiet killer, often hidden by baggy clothes and popularly supported in the dark recesses of the internet.  An addiction to being thin at any cost, even their lives.  When the line to good judgement has been blurred, the spiral begins.  This is an illness that has created a community that doesn’t help each other get better.  Instead, they help each other get sicker.

Antonia Eriksson has traveled this path herself and is recovering.  Her opinion of thinsperational accounts is clear.

“They’re really dangerous,” she says.  Eriksson is now in recovery from anorexia, and runs an Instagram account and blog focused on fitness and healthy eating. But back then, she was easily triggered into unhealthy behaviour by those images. “It would help me in my eating disorder, like in the most negative way… It would keep me sick,” she says.

via Pro-anorexia, bulimia communities thriving online – Health – CBC News.

I’d like to say this trend comes as a surprise, or that I’d never even heard of such a thing but of course that’s not the case.    I worry about my own children and their self image and how these sites and associated hashtags influence them. Trying on a pair of skinny jeans the other day my daughter lamented, “But my calves are too fat!”   She is in perfect physical shape and size for her body.  I reminded her that she’s just fine.  The jeans were just made for a different body.  Let’s face it the very nature of skinny jeans is a challenge.  It was obvious her first thought wasn’t that the jeans were wrong, it was that her body was wrong.

On one hand, when it comes to “thinspiration”,   it seems obvious that anyone with “half a brain” would “know better”.  But that’s not really what it’s all about after all. Whether a person is spiralling into a gloomy pit from an eating disorder, depression, anxiety, OCD, schizophrenia, PTSD or abuse there is one thing that everyone has in common.  They’ve crossed a line from the reality of  “normal” most of us know to a reality the rest of us don’t share. You would think they should be able to simply step back over that line but it doesn’t work that way.  Slipping over the line to illness seems so easy, but taking that one step back sometimes feels impossible.  Spoiler alert – it might be the biggest challenge you face in life but it isn’t impossible.

These thinspo accounts are like putting a line of coke in front of an addict, it’s fills the need and there is almost no way that the addict will be able to resist on their own, at least not for long. In my opinion this is like an unrecovered alcoholic being the sponsor for another alcoholic.  Pretty much doomed to failure.  Instead of helping each other they are actually encouraging and empowering each other to continue the spiral into the disease.

The good news is that I see more and more sites and resources that are dealing with recovery, self care and hope. Healthy is in, skinny is out.  Unless of course you are naturally skinny, which some people are.  Then rock it and love it.

I’m glad that many social media sites are trying to make things better.

Tumblr, Facebook and Pinterest have also attempted to circumvent users’ access to material that promotes self-harm. -CBC article

Dr. Rebecka Peebles, co-director of the Eating Disorder Assessment and Treatment Program at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia… found that nearly 40 per cent of the sites included pro-recovery information. Many of the troubling Instagram posts also include pro-recovery tags: #EDrecovery, #ANAwarrior, #BeatANA.  She believes that reflects the nature of the disease. “Part of you wants to get better, and part of you wants to stay sick.” – CBC Article

We all know that there are different body types.  Within each type there is an infinite number of slightly different shapes and sizes.  They are normal.  They are healthy.  They are beautiful.  Instead of embracing this fact, we watch the photoshopped ads, the models that have countless groomers and preeners fawning over them, that have been selected because they have this very specific body type.  And don’t kid yourself, even though they are “perfect” in our eyes, the industry tells them they aren’t quite good enough, they have the same qualms and self doubts as all of us “average” girls (and guys) out there.

Don’t ever fool yourself that any of these images are put out there because big business really cares about you.  They care almost exclusively about making money.  Really, most of them don’t care at all about you.  I mean honestly, not at all.  Those ads with all those beautiful people are meant to do one thing.  Get money from you.  Period.  They don’t care if you become prettier, smarter, fatter, skinnier, healthier even if their fake smiles seem to say otherwise.

We all have our moments, or maybe lifetimes, of wishing “something” was different about us or our lives.  No one is completely immune.  Unless.

Unless you make the conscious choice to begin loving yourself AS YOU ARE TODAY.  With all your perfection and all your flaws (which by the way, are almost always your own opinion).

We are all perfectly imperfect.  Quit fighting it!  It’s a battle you will never win, and were never meant to.

No matter what you do, unless you can love yourself (or at least like yourself) as you are, nothing you do will satisfy you for long.  You will always come from a place of lack.  You don’t have to.  Just start seeing your own good, your own beauty little by little.  Trust that it’s there and you’ll find it.

I really do recommend taking time every single day to look at yourself and tell yourself you love you!  Find the little things that you can love.  Maybe it’s your smile, or a dimple, or the way your one eyebrow raises when you smile. Maybe it’s how you can make your mother laugh or your little sister asks for your help.

Like any addict, or someone with a habit that needs breaking, do it one step at a time.  And don’t beat yourself up for every single little misstep.  Work to stop following the propaganda and start following things that inspire you and give you hope to be all you can really be.  Ask for help.  Then ask again, and again and again.  Do not give up.  Be kind to yourself and others.  It’s a start, and that’s what has to happen first.  A start.  A very simple start.

Life and love are so much more than thigh gap, or protruding bones, or the vision of outer beauty.  

If that’s all you can focus on right now you are missing out on so much, actually all the wonderful awesome stuff. Need help?  That’s ok.  Recognizing it is the first step.  We all need help for something at sometime.  Don’t give up.  Keep looking, keep trying.

If you are overweight an unhealthy amount, and I do mean unhealthy, not your own jaded opinion, then yes, do something positive and constructive to move yourself to a place of health.  But do it because you love yourself and you are worth it.  And if you don’t believe that right now it’s ok.  Believe me.  You are worth it.  Change your focus from one of controlling yourself and your weight to one of loving yourself and working together with your body towards wonderful health.

If you still need some convincing, I encourage you to listen to Maya Angelou explain and read her poem “Still I Rise”. Never doubt, that you too can say, “Still I rise.”

Eriksson was once an #ANAwarrior. She started an Instagram account, which has since grown to nearly 40,000 followers, the day before she was hospitalized to document her six-week in-hospital treatment and recovery.

What she calls her Instagram family helped motivate her recovery. “I wanted to show them that it was possible,” she says. “So I just kept fighting it.” – CBC article

As Eriksson reminds us,  it is possible.  Don’t give up.

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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Metamorphosis

20150110-131951-47991748.jpg

Are you ready?

Have you realized it yet?

Are you still a caterpillar?

Or have you transformed…

Did you notice?

You’re a beautiful butterfly.

You’re welcome.

©2014 Rise Like Air  J. Fries

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Welcome to Part 2 of Playing With The Facts.  This time we’re looking at some facts about The Miss America Pageant which John Oliver recently commented upon.  If you received the draft outline of this blog last week by mistake, I apologize.  I Learned a valuable lesson, set to audience to private while drafting so that if you inadvertently hit the publish button life remains unchanged.  If you saw my draft you know what I mean.  If you didn’t ignore what you just read and continue on. images

If you missed Part 1 Playing With The Facts: Ads and What We Eat click here.

When I was younger I don’t really remember going through a princess phase.  I definitely went through a castle and knight phase (still am truth be told), but I don’t recall wanting to be dressed in flowing gowns or be the damsel in distress (not that I was above wanting to be rescued) but the victim thing never sat well with me.

I liked pretty things, but my favourite colour was never pink.  I liked to “look like a girl” but I was just as happy if not happier being in grubby pants and a t-shirt making mud pies or having some wonderful adventure in the pastures and woods.  My tastes, style and interests like my life in general are, shall we say, eclectic.

I watched beauty pageants and while I recognized the text book beauty and talents, I never dreamed of walking the runway – maybe because I knew that I’d probably end up tripping and falling off of it anyway.

I’m one of those quirky folks who actually believes we’re all beautiful in our own way.  I choose to allow the definition of beautiful to be broad and encompassing rather than narrow and small.  I believe in equality – I have no problem with breastfeeding in public, women being topless in public, skimpy clothes – that should all be a personal choice.  I could write tomes on that subject alone.  What bothers me is the objectification, the judging, the double standards by both men and women.  What bothers me is how a woman’s physical attributes and sexuality are so unapologetically tied so directly to her success, her perceived value and self worth.

Whether overtly or covertly the message girls receive from the start is that how they look matters.  They learn early on that how they look determines outcomes, provides opportunities.

I watched the John Oliver video on the Miss America Pageant and suddenly it struck me that in this case, we legitimize objectification by offering scholarships.  In other words, we’re proving that beauty and brains go together.   We can say that they are actually helping women who may be discriminated against because they are beautiful.  The assumption might that they aren’t smart enough to go to university and the pageant challenges that assumption.   Now, I have a hard time arguing that is a bad thing; these young women are so much more than pretty faces and beautiful bodies.  There is nothing wrong with text book beautiful people.  But I feel these events result in narrowing the definition of beauty further, refining rather than expanding; excluding rather than embracing.

I realized that I shouldn’t be surprised that young women so often bare all for even the smallest hope of advancement in modelling, acting, or really in any career path.  We all know of those who have used their female attributes to succeed.  From the first pageant a young girl watches, they see that they can use their looks and bodies and hopefully their minds to go fabulous places.  It’s not about feeling liberated, or free to do what you want, it’s pressure to do so because that’s what you need to do to get what you want.  There’s a big difference. Donald Trump, owner of the pageant is quoted as saying to a female reporter (it’s on the video),

“Well obviously it’s great outer beauty.  We could be politically correct and say that the look doesn’t matter but it obviously matters.  Like you wouldn’t have your job if you weren’t beautiful.”

Alrighty then.  To which John Oliver comments,

“Right, because you need to see them in bathing suits because as we all know the intelligence portion of the brain is located somewhere on the upper thigh.”

Ok, by now you’re probably wondering how this ties into “Playing with the Facts – Part 1”   I suggested we needed to be savvy, critical thinkers and discerning.  The same applies to the pageant and the claims it makes.

This brings us back to the topic of scholarships for secondary education.   The Miss USA pageant can’t say enough about how many scholarships they make available annually – a whopping $45 million.  I mean, ok, how can I argue with someone that while they’re beautiful, they shouldn’t use that attribute to win a very cool experience and get an education paid for that might otherwise take years to pay off.

Now math was never my best subject, but even I have to question the ethics of how the pageant calculates that $45 million, and how much really gets paid out.  However, why would I bother to say more when I’ve already said enough.   John Oliver says it much better and more humourously than I ever could.  Even bad news is better doled out with the ability to smile.  So for your viewing enjoyment, John Oliver’s take on The Miss America Pageant and what it stands for.

So there you have it, simply playing with the facts a little bit and what a different story it tells.  Just a little playing with the facts lulls us into a sense of not only trust, but gratitude.  However,  the bottom line is the Miss America Pageant really give out only a fraction of the $45 million, that no matter what, they could never actually give out the $45 million and maybe saddest of all, that even at their lowest figure given, they are still actually the biggest single provider of scholarships for women only.

Yep, thems the facts peeps at least for now.

Want to make a difference?  John Oliver provides a list of other women’s only scholarship funds you can donate to if you want to change the fact that currently the biggest scholarship provider for women only scholarships “requires you to be unmarried, have a mint condition uterus and also rewards working knowledge of buttock adhesive technology.”

If anyone else know of scholarships for women only that can be donated to anywhere in the world please let me know.  I’d love to update the list. As you go about your day remember that it just might not hurt to be:

  • savvy
  • discerning
  • a critical thinker

©2014 Rise Like Air  J. Fries

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Image

Before and after from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine photo by Sarah Brimley

When life is busy sometimes you find things that “annoy” you or you think are going in the wrong direction, but you just don’t have or don’t take the time to do something about it.  You keep noticing it though and finally, finally you have to say something. Today.  Is.  That.  Day.

I like looking my best – at least when it’s feasible.  Sometimes cleaning out the barn… looking your best takes on a whole new meaning with those fashionable barn boots, coveralls, leather work gloves and of course the most important accessories… ball cap and pitch fork.  Now that’s a picture worth saving.  Ok.  No.

For years it has bothered me that we women are made to feel that we are less by just being who we are, looking like we do.  Like something was wrong with how we were originally made and it has to be changed for us to be “ok”.  After all, isn’t that what our entire focus is supposed to be around?  I mean we are just meant to look good for someone else aren’t we?  Ok.  No.

It has taken me years, but I am finally ok with how I look for the most part. Sure I like to wear makeup when I go out, I prefer to be in better shape than in worse, I like my clothes to do me justice instead of hanging off me.  But I realize fully that’s just some wrapping.  And I’m ok with what’s underneath the wrapping.  It’s good.  It’s me.  Don’t like it?  Then kindly shove off.  Thank you.

But then I had kids.  A boy and a girl.  And I started to see the messages that they are getting about their bodies and I realized that it hasn’t gotten better.  It’s gotten worse.  Constant pressure from all side to be something we’re not.  I really started to realize that was a key – “they” are trying to turn us into something, not even into someone!  I am not a thing to be toyed with or reinvented by anyone else.

We are creatures that tend to believe what we see.  When we are brought up with images in our faces all day everyday that are fictional but are not obviously identified as such what do we think our children, young adults and even older adults start to believe?  Most people refer to this as “advertising”.  I call it legal brainwashing.  Legal propaganda that is promoted in larger than life images and messages day in day out everywhere we look.

Women have been dealing with this for generations.  I keep hoping that slowly we’re making headway.  Truthfully I don’t think we are yet.  For every step we take in the right direction some other message or technique comes into play to drag us down again.  Are your pores fine enough?  Do you have a blemish – the word alone says UGLY.

Almost all of us get wrinkles, change weight, get zits, go grey – it’s normal – but OMG we can not allow ourselves to be NORMAL!  What was I thinking?!

The one thing that I always clung to in a strange way was that men hadn’t fallen for this idiocy yet… but even they have become the unsuspecting victims of the assumed male dominated industry of reinventing women.  Now we must reinvent men who are obviously too hairy, have dry skin, need eyes that look fresher.  The Dove ad for men is only one example.

When I saw the first ads for the men skin care products I laughed and thought thank whatever that they’ll be smarter than that… um no.  While sales aren’t at the level that women’s products are…. there are still enough men who now believe that to be attractive to women they have to be something they aren’t.  After watching The Hunger Games again I realized that we might just be headed for a society that looks like that one day sooner than later – not necessarily throwing our children into a ring to fight till the death but the fashion and opulance doesn’t seem as fictional as I’d like it to be.

Please guys – let your chests and legs be hairy, let your eyes do their thing, and if you have dry skin, just use a plain simple moisturizer please.  If that’s all a woman cares about you she’s not the one for you.  No more than if a guy just can’t stand your little protruding belly or varicose veins or your giggle or whatever, he’s not the guy for you.  Trust me on this one.  If we can’t like or love each other the way we are time to look elsewhere.  Now, let me interject here to say that I’m not advocating just letting it all hang out slovenly like.  Huge difference between embracing who you really are inside and out and using it for an excuse to be a slovenly jerk “cause that’s just the way I am take it or leave it”.

An excellent article in the BBC this morning called What Does It Feel Like To Be Airbrushed by Tulip Mazumdar (what a great name).  Personally I used to love playing dress up, make up all that stuff.  I have no problem with it.  But I knew up front that it was “art”  It wasn’t me.  It was like the icing on the cake – sweet and fluffy – but it wasn’t the cake.  I’d love to see every picture that is airbrushed have to have a disclaimer right underneath it or larger than life on the first page of magazines.  “WARNING:  Images in the magazine have been airbrushed.  They are an artist’s interpretation of the image and should not be mistaken for reality.  Viewing these images may cause self conscious feelings or even self loathing.”

So the journalist wanted to know what it felt like to have her image airbrushed to “perfection”.  However, intentionally or not one of her comments jumped right out

I wasn’t brave enough to be photographed with no make-up so I had a base layer of foundation and powder as well as minimal eye make-up and some blusher and lip-gloss.

Now I admit that at one time it would have taken a lot of me to take my make up off.  I was, and still am, self conscious about my complexion.  The difference is that now I can accept that my skin is what it is – and I’ve discovered that there are volumes of us with similar skin and you know what?  We’re still cute, we’re still beautiful.  I also admit that I look in the mirror and wish I still had my face at 20, and wish I would have appreciated my looks at 20 instead of seeing everything the magazines said I should be that I wasn’t.    Time has also shown me that when I’m 70 I’ll look back at 50 and go, wow, you looked good!  So, long ago I decided to use my future wisdom in the present.  Why wait?  I found it interesting, though, that even for an article about air brushing, that the journalist was not comfortable without just a little makeup to protect herself.

The photographer airbrushed the photos more than she normally would she said, other than celebrities who apparently regularly ask to be made into their fantasy shapes and sizes (has anyone ever heard of saying, um, “No.”?).  So Sarah gave Tulip the celebrity treatment.   Tulip’s reaction?

Suddenly the original images that I was quite happy with at the start, looked old, tired and a bit chubby.

Now maybe it’s just me, but after looking at both images, I honestly preferred the original.  If both women walked in and sat down, I honestly think I would naturally have felt more comfortable with the first image – given everything else about the interaction was equal.  No matter what, I honestly believe both images are beautiful, and I don’t think the second image is more beautiful, it’s just different.

I believe we should all do things that make us feel GOOD about ourselves, not because it makes someone else feel better about how we look.  If we put on makeup it should make us smile because we like it, not because we are thankful that it is hiding all our horrible flaws.

Let me be clear here.

THEY ARE NOT FLAWS.  THEY ARE A PART OF WHO YOU ARE.  YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

Who decided what a flaw is and what it isn’t? Who gave them the right to decide if I’m ok or not?  A zit is a zit – but oh no, it’s a BLEMISH.  The very word makes me feel like I’m less, I’m broken, flawed, somethings wrong with me.  Oh poppycock.

Society’s view of beauty has become more and more narrow as time goes on.  These issues aren’t new to this generation or this century.  It’s been going on for a long time, maybe forever, but it’s time we stand up and say “No More”.  It’s time we work harder at liking who we are as we are instead of wasting valuable time trying to be someone or something we’re not.  Work with yourself instead of against yourself.  Stop being afraid of allowing yourself to see your own beauty just as you are, instead of relying on someone else’s definition of what they think beauty is.  Let’s be real here.  The people who are defining beauty and selling the image are the ones who are making gazzillions of dollars off our insecurity.  And they are laughing all the way to the bank.  And don’t doubt that they’ve also bought into their own story.

I know that I have only so much time in this particular life on this earth – and I have decided that I am not going to waste it trying to conform to someone else’s idea of beauty.  That doesn’t mean I won’t wear make up or have a mole removed or buy a fashion design or have a facial.  It does mean I’m working hard to keep it in perspective and when I do choose to do something I’m doing it for me, not because it determines my value or my beauty in someone else’s opinion.  I’ve learned that the people I know who have successfully done this seem to be a whole lot happier with themselves and life in general and I’m all for being happy.  How about you?

Truth:  We are all beautiful, every single one of us.

Dare:  Find the physical beauty in every single person you meet today.  Start with yourself.

Ok, having a hard time with this challenge?  I’ll give you a leg up.  Start small, because let’s face it, our definition of beauty tends to be narrow.   Maybe it’s a smile; maybe it’s the way a strand of hair falls across a face; eyes, ears, hands, nails, skin tone.  I don’t care how “ugly” by standard definition a person may appear.  Take the challenge – find the beauty.  It is there.

So remember people…. just be yourself, inside and out… ok?  Unsung Lilly knows all about it.

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This blog is ©J. Fries/Rise Like Air 2013

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