Real. Life. Beauty.

Where Real Women Connect.

Don’t be hatin’…yourself.

The last few Fridays, I have indulged myself in watching TLC’s new show, “Love Lust or Run” starring Stacey London of “What Not to Wear” fame.

I love the show and the positive message being imparted by Stacey in that you can use what you’ve already got and it doesn’t matter what size, colour, race, or age you are, you can still be the best version of yourself.

What troubles me about the show is not the show itself but how terribly frightened the featured applicants are at the prospect of being seen without makeup. To her credit, Stacey does her utmost best to allay the fears of these women and helps them move forward.

Makeup should enhance – not hide – who you are. It shouldn’t be worn as a mask preventing people from seeing the real you. And yet, every show, there are applicants featured on this show who express fear not at wearing only a chunky white bathrobe on national (or international) television, but rather at being seen without their makeup. As if the makeup was some kind of protective shield over their faces.

There could be many reasons for this mindset, but I am disturbed that so many women have grown up from being young girls thinking that leaving the house without makeup on was somehow sacrilegious or taboo.

While I write a lot of product reviews of makeup products, it should be known that I DO NOT wear makeup every day. It doesn’t matter to me whether I wear it to work, or if I wear it out when I’m enjoying a date night with my husband. I wear it simply as an accessory as I would a pair of earrings to go with an outfit. In other words, if I end up omitting makeup from my routine, it’s not the end of the world.

It’s also true that my decision to wear makeup is based largely on whether or not I actually have the time to apply it. If the clock is running low, I skip it all together and simply make sure that I am dressed appropriately and cleanly for whatever I’m about to undertake on my way out the door.

I don’t mean to say that I’ve always been together and this is not a judgment of women or people in general who wear more or less makeup than myself. In my teens and 20’s, I used to obsess over my hair, my clothes, my makeup and how to act or behave around other people. I seemed to be always anxious and tense and finally something clicked in my head where I decided I didn’t want to feel that way anymore; I wanted to change to a better me.

I learned somewhere along the way that my obsession with my appearance was not only annoying those who had to wait for me to get ready to join them in whatever day we had planned, but it was also robbing me of time which might otherwise have been spent doing things which were so much more fun than being locked in a bathroom preening in the mirror. When I let go so much concern for my personal appearance and whether it was going to be good enough, the world opened up a lot more possibilities and I relaxed and had a lot more fun.

It’s an ongoing process as we women, in particular, frequently fall in and out of this trap. But I encourage anyone struggling with this issue to take a few moments to study themselves objectively in the mirror, focusing ONLY on those things they love about themselves and ignoring all those things they might dislike or even hate. Take, for instance, the colour of your eyes. Or the shape of your mouth, or the smoothness of your forehead. You may have very toned and strong shoulders, or you may have a beautiful collarbone. It doesn’t matter what you find attractive about yourself (I happen to like my feet, as an example), but it matters tremendously that you find yourself attractive even in some small way.

Finding one thing you like about yourself will undoubtedly lead you to discover other things you like about yourself, leading to an altogether better sense of overall well-being which you will be able to impart to your friends, family, daughters and those who rely on you to be strong for them.

If we’re to raise strong, secure women, we must lead by example.

The heartening thing about “Love Lust or Run,” unlike the ambushes on “What Not to Wear,” is that it is completely voluntary and the women featured on the show are simply asking Stacey for help in enhancing and updating their looks to fit not only current trends in fashion and makeup, but also toward their life and career goals. It’s a brave step for many women, but it’s nice to see so many women taking that first step toward happiness and self-acceptance for the rest of their lives.

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Why serial dieting makes you miserable.

Achieve a more harmonious balance for a happier you.

Achieve a more harmonious balance for a happier you.

The Dalai Lama – and countless others – have frequently said that the path to true happiness is to be found through doing kindnesses for others. I can personally attest to this being true since I recently was able to purchase an item for my husband which he had been wanting for some years, but had put off in favour of buying more necessary things for us and our household.

It wasn’t so much the material object itself, but rather the ability to give him something which is meant only for his enjoyment. To fulfill a longstanding wish of his. To put him first. All of these things are what gave me joy, which in turn made me feel better about myself.  I had nothing whatsoever to gain from purchasing this item.  But it wasn’t about me, after all.

When we focus entirely too much on our physical selves, we lose sight of our true selves. We stop nurturing our souls since we’re focusing so much on our bodies. That’s not to say you should entirely lose sight of your body’s needs, but it should not be all-encompassing, and certainly it should not come at the sake of your soul or your spirit.

My suggestion is for every hour of exercise or concentration on your dieting, you allocate another block of time for peaceful and uinterrupted meditation or spending time with or on someone else who will benefit from your attention. If you have no one on whom to lavish your attention, lavish it on yourself.  Read a book.  Take part in a hobby or interest you’ve been putting off.  Enjoy a long hot bath and lose yourself in your thoughts.  Take a restful nap.  Do anything which does not centre around your physical appearance.

In doing so, you may find that your mind and your body reach a more harmonious balance, and your spirit will be uplifted as a result.  Your confidence will grow, and you’ll feel loads better about  your physical appearance.  Trust me as one who has made this journey herself.

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Repost: Goddesses in our Midst

I wrote this post a couple years ago, and even though I have switched offices, much of what I wrote about in this post is still true to the present day.

Ladies, and Gentlemen, be kinder to yourselves – be true to yourselves and accept how beautifully unique each and everyone of you are just as you are.

Have a read, let me know what you think.  Thanks for stopping by.

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Swimsuit Issues.

Ashley Graham, Sports Illustrated (2015) I do not own the rights to this photo

Ashley Graham, Sports Illustrated (2015)
I do not own the rights to this photo

Sports Illustrated’s famed Swimsuit Issue features for the first time a plus-size model by the name of Ashley Graham. Ashley, of course, deserves this recognition not only for being absolutely stunning in a swimsuit and whatever else she chooses to wear, but also for her talents as a model, neither of which have any bearing on her dress size, or vice versa.

The first swimsuit issue, however, was first published by Sports Illustrated in 1964 when it was far more widely accepted that women worthy of the title had curves and lots of them.  Many of the models from then might even be considered “plus size” by today’s standards.  Case in Point:  Marilyn Monroe – arguably the world’s most recognized and idolized Icon of Beauty – would by today’s standards be treated as a plus size model.  Throughout the last 50 years or so, an alarming trend toward near-anorexia has occurred not only in issues of Sports Illustrated but through all media featuring any female models.  Even more alarming is the trend toward impressionable girls and women thinking that thinner is always better, when this is simply not the case.  And, to be fair, I’m certain the trend is affecting male models and their viewing public as well.

Yet, when you speak to the ubiquitous Man on the Street, he will most likely tell you that he would prefer a woman not of a certain age, nor colour, but one who has curves and knows how to wear  them well. Presumably, this is the ideal woman for most men and it has nothing to do with dress size, but rather of confidence and a woman’s acceptance of her own body. Following this logic, we must therefore conclude that a woman’s size is completely irrelevant to her appeal and attractiveness.

This is not to say that only a man’s perception of a woman’s beauty is all that matters!  On the contrary, a woman who accepts her own unique beauty is truly an unstoppable force to be reckoned with and it is her opinion alone which should have any bearing about how she feels about herself.  That being said, there is nothing to stop the rest of us from doing whatever we can so that each woman – and man, as the case may be – to celebrate their uniqueness and beauty.

Going back through the centuries, most women depicted in art are nothing short of voluptuous. How, then, have we wound up here in 2015 idolizing a form which contrasts so greatly with what we as a species have evidently and usually considered an ideal female form?  Why has our media decided that only ONE form of female beauty is acceptably portrayed in their publications?

Those, I’m afraid, are questions for the ages and better left open for discussion.

What is clear, though, is that a beautiful female form does NOT depend on a dress size, nor does it depend on the perceptions of others.  What matters most is the woman’s perception of her own beauty.

The women featured in past issues of Sports Illustrated are just as beautiful and deserving of the recognition and opportunities afforded to them through their exposure of being in the Swimsuit Issue as any of their predecessors.  And what we must ensure in the future is that ALL women be celebrated not only for their diverse and infinitely interesting beauty but for their obvious intelligence and talents in the fields they choose.  In that way, we’ll ensure equality for all and hopefully put an end to weight-based discrimination, regardless of whether it’s directed at women deemed too thin, or too overweight.

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