Archives for posts with tag: Self Acceptance

Set your heart on fire

Seek those who fan your flames

Rumi

Credit J Fries 2018

There is beauty in the ashes of a heart that burned for what it loved

Ariana

One loving heart sets another on fire

St Agustine

Love is friendship set on fire

Look a little closer in those delicate eyes, her heart’s a wild creature and her soul’s on fire

– NR Hart

The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire

-Ferdinand Foch

Create what sets your heart on fire

It will illuminate the path ahead

©️2018 J Fries/Rise Like Air

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This is a really to the point blog. Too many people are surrounded with toxic people in their lives but don’t recognize it and instead believe the story and actually make excuses for them instead of distancing or removing themselves from the toxicity. Ah we humans are truly an interesting bunch, far too willing to allow ourselves to be slowly poisoned it would seem. Spoiler alert: Never too late to change, never too late to heal, never too late to choose.
“When the music changes, so does the dance.” – African Proverb

Source: Beware the Signs of Toxic People in Your Life

 

music

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A friend, life coach and fellow Life Vest Inside Kindness Ambassador, Lillian McDermott of the Lillian McDermott Radio Show posted a wonderful short video this morning entitled 100% Responsibility.

I was truly amazed at what she managed to share in under 7 minutes.  So I ask you…

Are you ready to redefine responsibility?

Are you ready to live the life of your dreams?

Are you ready to answer 4 simple questions?

Are you willing and ready to change?

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Are you ready?

Are…

You…

Ready…

You might just find that this is the best 6 plus minutes you’ve ever spent. Want to change your life?  Start now.  Start right now.

 

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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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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Image from PopSugar

Image from PopSugar

 

Sharon Silver wrote a great article on PopSugar in March. The subject certainly isn’t new. We as humans, have a penchant to label. It makes us feel  knowledgeable, organized, and mainly, in control. We go happily along each day judging things, places and especially people, including ourselves. Let’s be clear, you can’t label anything unless you first judge it, form an opinion and then voila!  Affix a label and life is suddenly ordered, we can breath a sigh of relief. But that label, often tells a very incomplete story. By affixing that label, we may have unwittingly changed the story, and not necessarily in a positive way.

Words are so powerful, and we wield their sharp edges without a second thought for where the blade may land or the damage it may inflict.

Silver shares a story about an encounter she witnessed while shopping.  Unfortunately it isn’t a unique case and what’s even more unfortunate, is that all too often, the person honestly thinks they’re doing the right thing, the best for their child.

I was in line at the grocery store when I heard a mom very calmly and very firmly whisper to her son, “Are you an awful boy?” The little one tried to pull his body away from his mom, as if to escape the sting of his beloved mother’s words, but he couldn’t. He very sadly dropped his head and said, “Yes.”

This little one’s face told the whole story. It was obvious this was not the first time mom had said those words to him. You could literally see the effects of his mom’s words being accepted by his emotional self. You could see the words becoming part of how he will define himself, now, and in the future — I am an awful person.

via How to Talk to Kids When They Misbehave | POPSUGAR Moms.

I don’t know why this is such a hard lesson for so many of us to learn.  Words that motivate, encourage when used with guidance and caring consistently provide better results in improving behaviours and overall success.

Too many people equate this approach with being “soft” or “settling for less”.  That is definitely not the case.  Discipline, expectations and assistance are all still part of the picture.

Most of us have experienced people who have been cruel to us with their words at some point in our lives. We know how it makes us feel. Most of us have managed to “put it behind us” and have moved on. Yet, as adults we tend to fall back on methods that we’ve experienced, even when, if we’re honest with ourselves, we know didn’t work well for us.  But somehow, we suddenly think, “but that must be the way it’s done”.

It’s not easy to change our habits, it’s even harder when we feel pressured, under stress, short tempered, lacking sleep or simply busy. But when we see the changes that our efforts result in, it doesn’t take long to realize that the effort is more than worth it.

I like Sharon Silver’s suggestions for dealing with misbehaviour, 3 good questions.

  • Was what you did safe?
  • Was it respectful?
  • Was it kind?

That’s a pretty impressive starting point. You see, we usually don’t have to use hurtful words to get the message across.  As a matter of fact, using words that hurt simply put the other person on the defensive and removes the focus from the issue and the solution. These questions let the other person gain understanding themselves. For most people, that’s enough to start a change in behaviour.

Labelling people, even with “positive” labels stunts growth as surely as a plant is if you put a pot over it and keep it in the dark. Instead be the sunshine and rain that let’s that flower grow and bloom brilliantly.

The change starts with us. It starts now. Listen to yourself, listen to your family, listen to your children’s teachers.  Start using language that actually has a positive impact and you will be astounded at the changes you begin to see.  The sparkle in your child’s eye and their desire to please and do well will likely grow visibly, right before your very eyes.

 

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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image from Shari Okeke/CBC

image from Shari Okeke/CBC article

“I learned that people are much more accepting even though there is hatred in the world, because I have experienced that. I learned that people are very OK with [who I am] and I should be OK with it, and that’s what the LGBT Club has helped me understand. It is OK to be ‘different,’ ” Bry said.

via Bry Bitar, Montreal LGBT teen, sparks school uniform revolution – Montreal – CBC News.

This really made my day on so many levels. First of all, they are only 13 years old.  Just goes to show how strong people can grow when they are supported. Sure I know some of us are stronger just by nature, but I think we’re all aware of how even a strong person can be hurt and feel diminished.

I also love that Bry doesn’t adhere to labels. Labels always seem like such a good idea, until they paint us as someone or something we aren’t. Suddenly everyone else falls for the label, and then sometimes we end up believing it too. I’m quite all right with the pronoun “they”. Let’s face it, using he or she in this case doesn’t actually tell the whole story does it? Maybe that’s exactly the point. We’re forced to look beyond a label. Using they makes us take a second look and reconsider our assumptions. For those who would suggest ‘it’, I agree with a commenter who explained that he, she, and they refer to people, but ‘it’ is used to refer to objects, things. Using ‘it’ in this case would also give a very poor message.  I think ‘they’ works just fine.

In my opinion I see a youngster who not only has an opinion, it’s a well thought out opinion and a well articulated one at that.

However, getting to this happy place, this place of support and love didn’t come easily.  It had many tough patches, a dark side that many people who are considered ‘different’ know all to personally.  At Bry’s other school they weren’t accepted and things became unbearable.

“I became depressed, like severely. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I thought everyone hated me…. I did become suicidal and I attempted, but thank God nothing happened because I’m better today,” Bry said.

Bry’s parents and Royal West Academy in Montreal are proving to schools, parents, students, community and the world at large that change is possible. It’s not only possible, it’s needed.

Bry’s father explained that when Bry finally discussed how bad things had gotten at the other school Bry it was like a weight lifted, “I could see it in his face what a big relief it was for him.”

The LGBT club at the school is a safe place where the students are accepted and build community.  It would appear that the school takes their students seriously and does more than tolerate differences, they advocate accepting differences.

Recently Bry approached the school about wearing the girls’ uniform and even Bry was a little surprised when the school agreed. They are willing to look at options and ideas openly.  Their goal appears to be inclusion wherever possible. Navigating this territory is new for most of us, this school is appears to be doing an admirable job, just like Bry’s parents.

It’s not all rosy, not everyone in the community is as accepting or tolerant.  The safety Bry feels in school isn’t always available outside the walls.  But Bry isn’t letting those potential dangers stop them from being who they are, a cool kid who wants to live life, have fun and do some good in the world.  Now what’s wrong with that?

By supporting our children in their differences, in becoming who they are meant to be, we are setting the world stage for every person to be all they can be, to help others, to make the world a better, kinder, happier, accepting place where we can achieve anything.  Why? Because instead of extinguishing their light we let it shine brilliantly.

I truly hope that more communities, schools and parents take the lead from Montreal’s Royal West Academy and Bry and his parents.  The alternative is losing these brilliant lights that could provide so much.  Not a viable option.

If you have a story you’d like to share about support you’ve received as a LGBT person we’d love to hear it. Shine on and Rise Like Air. You’ll find your way.

edit 21mar2015

Raising My Rainbow shares another story about a 17 year old named Morgan whose school has not proven as supportive in accepting differences. The story has sparked #ClothingHasNoGender.

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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When I woke up my social media this morning a wonderfully powerful very short video titled “4 year old has a perfect response to a boy in her class” was in my feed from HuffPost.   The little adorable face staring back at me with that wide smile guaranteed I was going to click play.

In case you don’t have Facebook, I’ll include the transcription from The Huffington Post article.

“What happened in school today?” her mom, Sonya, asks in the video. “A little boy said I looked … ugly,” Cici responded.

“And what did you say?” Cici’s mom asked.

“I said, ‘I didn’t come here to make a fashion statement. I came here to learn — not look pretty,'” Cici replied, adding, “The little boy said I looked ‘bad,’ and I said, ‘Did you look in a mirror lately? Bye bye, see you later, you’re making me mad.'”

All Right! This girl has attitude. She has confidence. She is beautiful inside and out. She is my Shero!  We can all learn something from this 4 year old.  It’s a lesson in standing up for ourselves.  It’s about learning how to treat people.  And how not to treat people.  It’s about being empowered.  It’s about fairness, kindness, growing up and parenting. She has just the right amount of sass.

But.  In the middle of all that. And in the middle of the smiles and giggles, did you notice what happened to that smiling little girl when her mother asked that one simple question?  “What happened at school today?”   She got a little more serious as she answered, “A little boy said I looked …” and then it happened, the awkward pause, the fading smile, the dimming eyes, and then that word…  “…ugly”.  As she remembered it, then said it, it was like “it” was happening all over again.  The power, the life, was being sucked away.

And then, as her mother asked her what happened next, she embraced her power and her smile returned as she recounted her response to the little boy.

That word, that one hurtful word in a hurtful sentence.  You can hear the impact, feel it and see it like a fist to the stomach.  How much power it wielded, but like a true mighty girl, a real life super hero, Cici got right back up and won the round with oh so much class.

The empowering poem “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou came to mind.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

(excerpt from “Still I Rise”)

That word may have cut, it may have stung but Cici had nothing to apologize for, nothing to feel bad about and she let him know where she stood on the subject in no uncertain terms.

Her spirit and fire again brought to mind Maya Angelou’s strength and power that are so evident in another of her famous poems.  Gavin Aung Than, founder of Zen Pencils captured her essence beautifully in his adaptation of “Phenomenal Woman” in June 2014.

image from Zen Pencil's  #153 Maya Angelou Phenomenal Woman

image from Zen Pencil’s #153 Maya Angelou Phenomenal Woman

While Cici may not be a woman yet, she certainly is a phenomenal girl on her way to being a phenomenal woman.

I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

(excerpt from “Phenomenal Woman”)

In closing I want to reiterate that the impact of that one word can’t be denied.  How easy it is to hurt, to scar, in one moment of anger, of hurting, or of simply not thinking, the damage that can be wrought.  Never doubt the power of your words, or how long the effect can be felt. Language is gift that should always be used with care and wisdom.  For as easy as it is to cause hurt and to leave scars, it is really just as simple to encourage, empower, embolden and inspire.  The next time you put a string of words together, think about what they might do to the person hearing them. What choice are you going to make?

© 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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image from imglove.com

image from imglove.com

The Huffington Post shared a great article called 11 Signs Of A Genuine Friendship.  Our relationships are such a huge part of our lives. They can either support us or derail us, make us smile or make us want to run away.  Too many of us don’t give enough thought or action to our friendships considering the impact they can have on our lives.  If you think about it, doesn’t it make sense to ensure we surround ourselves with people that will enrich our lives?  Are you a person who truly enriches your friends’ lives?  

The 11 Signs according to author Lindsay Holmes

They encourage self acceptance

They let you know when you’ve screwed up

They’re actually there, and like put their phones away!

They listen to what you say

They’re there when times get tough

They help us stay balanced and calmer

They keep our ego in check

They can be counted on when you really need them the most

They put friendship on their priority list

They actually are forgiving

They make you want to step up your game, be a better person

So how did you and your friends do?  No one’s perfect, but the people I want in my life definitely need to be on this list.  I deserve that much.  You do too.

A single rose can be my garden, a single friend my world.   -Leo Buscaglia

©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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