Maribeth Wilder Doerr

Shades of Healing ~ Creating a Wholehearted Life

My own brand of beauty

Bi2Right after Christmas, my local Barnes & Noble ditches the Christmas stuff and puts up a big display of diet books.  I know most stores and magazines do this since so many people start off the New Year wanting to lose weight.  The irony is this display always sits next to the Valentine’s display (you do want to lose all that weight to look sexy by Valentine’s right?) and includes lots of their Godiva chocolate gift boxes.  Starve yourself with diets but be sure to buy the chocolate to soothe yourself when you throw the worthless diet book away.

Now that it’s March, the display has moved to another part of the store (but still close to the front) and the sign reads “Diet and Nutrition” but there is NO book in the display that concerns itself with nutrition.  Not. One.

Why is our society so bent on eating everything it wants and then trying insane diets to lose weight?  I’m not pointing fingers.  Until I lost 55 pounds in my chronic illness of 2012, I was a yo-yo dieter.  I was thin in my teens until 35.  Then yo-yo’d for 15+ years.  I can trace my body image issues back to two major things.  The one I want to address today is  my mom’s persistent criticisms of my appearance.

My mother seemed to find fault with my appearance for most of my life.  She used to take great delight in telling me that my old aunties came to the house when I was a baby just to see my gigantic thighs.  The first bra she bought me was a padded one because, surely, I must be disappointed in my size.  I didn’t know what cellulite was until she pointed it out on my butt and thighs when I was 16 (I was 5’5″ and 110 pounds so how much cellulite could have been there???).  My dad nicknamed me Grace (because he found me clumsy) and my mom said I was as dainty as an elephant.  The adjective I heard the most often was PLAIN.  I was just simply plain.  Your average Mary, the band geek.

It’s true I was a late bloomer.  My husband wouldn’t have looked twice at me in high school but by 24, he noticed.  He says it was my confidence that attracted him more than anything.  I was supporting myself through some difficult experiences and that awareness that comes from knowing you’re strong enough to survive, take care of yourself and make it in this world was an energy he picked up on.  My mom used to tell me I better “keep myself up” or my husband would dump me.  It’s been 28 years and we’re still together.

Mom didn’t know everything.  Sometimes I think she knew absolutely nothing about me.  I know lots of daughters feel that way about their mothers.  And truly, how much do we really know about them?  What made her criticize her only (and beloved) daughter so much?  I KNOW she loved me.  I could put on my psychologist hat and give you a litany of reasons why she did this.  The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what her reasons were.  What matters is how I view myself.

I struggled to let go of the crappy stories she filled my brain with, and I finally realized, ironically in the middle of a yoga class, that those gigantic legs are the two parts of my body that have NEVER let me down.  They are amazing with what they put up with!  And guess what?  I AM beautiful.  Perhaps not in the way my mom (or Hollywood) would define beauty, but really, as I said before,  it’s not her (their) story that matters.  It’s MY stories that matter for ME and I can rewrite the bullshit ones.

badassSo a big BOO HOO to those of us who had mothers that criticized.  Want revenge?  Be you, in all your glory, in your own unique brand of beauty.  To hell with magazines that advertise the latest diet craze on their photoshopped covers next to headlines about cookie recipes.  Walk right on by the Barnes & Noble diet book displays and the glam magazines.  Celebrate YOUR curves or your angles or your lines – whatever you’ve got.  Let’s dump the comparison monster and stop judging people for how they look, especially ourselves!

Yeah, I’ve got my own brand of beauty.  And so do you.  It’s called uniqueness.  We’re all unique.  Vive la difference!  My brand celebrates my weirdness; my ability to be big and small, quiet and loud, radiant and dark, all at the same time.  Plain?  Only when I want to be 😉

So go write your own stories.  Show the world your own unique brand of beauty.

 

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PEOPLE NOW! Put a Little Love in Your Heart

I feel a rant coming on. I’ll start with a little tip toe down memory lane. Back in 1968 when I was a wee child, Jackie DeShannon wrote and sang a simple song called Put a Little Love in Your Heart. I can still hear the beat of that thing. It was a little cheesy but it was a hit song of the times – a radical time of “make love not war” and lots of self-exploration. It’s 44 years later but I’d say we’re in a similar era of culture – war and conflict and lots of self-exploration. The difference now is the way we communicate. You’re never out of took with a cellphone in your pocket. Don’t want to face someone, just text them instead or send an email. Faceless communication and that lays some fertile for people to behave in ways they wouldn’t if they were face to face with someone.

We also have 24/7 news and social media; it seems that everyone has an opinion and feels the need to express it via blog posts, blog comments, facebook status updates, and tweets. When there isn’t enough “real” news, media fuels the feeds by creating stories designed to get people talking – and arguing. It’s enough to make us all insane, cynical, hypercritical and way too judgmental (and yes, that’s my own judgment talking – I am not immune).

Feminists have been talking about the war on women for years. Adding to that particular issue are the mommy wars. Think that’s an exaggeration? Just check out any mommy blogger, mommy website or message board and see the opinions on breastfeeding vs bottle feeding, natural birth vs cesarean, circumcision or intact, SAHM vs WOHM . . . I get a headache thinking about it. Why do we believe our way of parenting is the right way and if someone is doing it differently, they’re doing it wrong?

Bullying doesn’t stop when we’re kids, and some people, unfortunately, find themselves easy targets. Then it seems the schoolyard bullies come back to life and take criticism to a new level – especially when they can do it anonymously. If we think they’re a bad parent, then their appearance and everything about them becomes to fodder for gossip. Remember Octomom? Enough said about her. How about Tan Mon? Last Spring, she was in the news for allegedly taking her 5-year old daughter to a tanning booth causing first degree burns. Mom says her daughter was sunburned in their backyard. Only this woman and her daughter know what truly happened, but the public was outraged (and yes, I agree that if a 5 year old is taken into a tanning booth to tan, the adult should be prosecuted!). However, the news surrounding this story went beyond reporting the case. The media hounded the entire family, and Tan Mom’s appearance was the butt of late night talk show jokes, tabloid stories and an amazing amount of other gossip. This woman’s history was dug into and written about, and nothing about her was off-limits including her children. People! This is so unnecessary!

And why?? A child may or may not have been hurt; the legal system was checking into that. So why the intense media attention on the mother’s entire life and appearance? The media wouldn’t have bothered if people weren’t interested in the story after the initial report. Why was it okay to make such intense fun of this woman’s appearance, dig into her background for more things to criticize, and bring such negative attention to the rest of her family who simply wanted to be left alone? Would any of us want to be subjected to such scrutiny? She deserved to be prosecuted if she did, indeed, take her daughter into a tanning booth to tan. But we all seemed to forget innocent until proven guilty in this case, convicting her in the court of public opinion which then seemed to make it acceptable to ridicule everything about this woman. Who was more crazy in this case – Tan Mom or the media or the people interested in reading the crap the media wrote?

Even when a woman has done something extraordinary, we find a way to criticize. In this case, it was a teenager . . . Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas, 16 years old, found out how cruel people can be. She made history by being the first African American to win the individual all-around Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. She’s also a delightful role model for girls, and yet, people were criticizing her hair! What?! Why?? What do we gain by criticizing others and pointing out their faults?
Perhaps it’s boredom; we’re bored with ourselves and bored with our lives. Maybe we don’t feel good about ourselves . . .

Unfortunately, we are taught at a very young age that women are defined by their beauty. We are bombarded with the same disturbing messages that promote unrealistic, impossible standards of the female form. ~ Kimberly Riggins, Writer, Coach & Body Image Expert

We’re raised with unrealistic impossible standards. It’s human nature to compare ourselves and if we don’t measure up, let’s find something wrong with the other person to bring them down to our level and lower. Let’s think about this . . . every moment we waste judging and gossiping about OctoMom, Tan Mom, the Kardashians, et al is time taken away from ourselves and our families. What if we dropped those thoughts? What if we became more interested in ourselves and our own lives? What if we did what Jackie DeShannon suggests in her song and put a little love in our hearts. Sound cheesy?

Perhaps . . . but in this hard-shelled world, we’re currently living in a society where a 16 year old’s hair is criticized more than her Olympic gold medals are applauded . . . a world where we’re more interested in a $10 million dollar wedding for a marriage that lasted 72 days instead of feeding the 500,000 homeless people in America . . . maybe a little cheese in the way of putting a little love in our hearts makes sense.

As women, if we have love and compassion in our hearts for ourselves, we can truly change the world. How? For starters, we give ourselves permission to be human, to make mistakes without fear of harsh criticism. When we feel good about ourselves, we can feel good about others and extend love and compassion to them instead of criticism and hate. Don’t agree with someone? Be a role model and extend your thoughts with kindness and then let it go. Let’s give each other permission to be human and make mistakes. Then watch the ripple effect of your love and compassion!

Check out Jackie DeShannon singing Put a Little Love in Your Heart on YouTube.

Put a Little Love in Your Heart
Written by Jackie DeShannon, Randy Myers, and Jimmy Holiday

Think of your fellow man
lend him a helping hand
put a little love in your heart.
You see it’s getting late
oh please don’t hesitate
put a little love in your heart.
And the world will be a better place
and the world will be a better place
for you and me
you just wait and see

Another day goes by
and still the children cry
put a little love in your heart.
If you want the world to know
we won’t let hatred grow
put a little love in your heart.
And the world will be a better place
and the world will be a better place
for you and me
you just wait and see

Take a good look around and
if you’re lookin’ down
put a little love in your heart
I hope when you decide
kindness will be your guide
put a little love in your heart.
And the world will be a better place
and the world will be a better place
for you and me
you just wait and see
put a little love in your heart each and every day
put a little love in your heart there’s no other way
put a lttle love in your heart, it’s up to you
put a little love in your heart . . .

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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