We have been programmed that in order to fit in we have to be like everyone else. To be accepted we have to follow the crowd, but there is a reason YOU were created! YOU have something unique and special to offer the world that only YOU can offer. So why not put all of your energy into being authentically YOU!
Although Americans sometimes dismiss bullying in school as a childhood rite of passage, this form of aggression may have long-lasting psychological ramifications for victims as well as for bullies, reports the September 2009 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.
There has been a lot of focus on bullying in the past several years and the impact it has on people, especially teenagers. Bullying is a common experience for many children and adolescents. Surveys indicate that as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years, and at least 10% are bullied on a regular basis.
Bullying behavior can be physical or verbal. Boys tend to use physical intimidation or threats, regardless of the gender of their victims. Bullying by girls is more often verbal, usually with another girl as the target. Bullying has even been reported in online chat rooms, through e-mail and on social networking sites. Social media has made it easier for bullies to continue bullying outside of school.
Children who are bullied experience real suffering that can interfere with their social and emotional development, as well as their school performance. Some victims of bullying have even attempted suicide rather than continue to endure such harassment and punishment. The rise in suicide has brought this issue into the forefront.
Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength. Bullying can take many forms, such as hitting, kicking, threatening another, teasing, name calling, excluding from a group, or sending mean notes or e-mails. Often, children are bullied not just once or twice but over and over (Olweus, 1993; Roland, 1989; Smith & Sharp, 1994).
A conversation with my daughter and a program on MPR about bullying came together while I was driving to active a memory in me. I was aware of this memory but had never put the label of bullying on it until after the conversation and during the radio program. When I was a teenager I had a very bad completion, that was very embarrassing for me. I just wanted to hide my face. I grew bangs to cover up the pimples on my forehead and kept my head down so I wouldn’t be seen. To make matters worse it was also one the issue that my brother’s like to tease me about. I was given the name “Zit Face”. I was often called that name by my three brothers and it was written on the walls in our hallway. It was humiliating for me.
I remember my brothers following me home from school and calling me “Zit Face”. The worse incident I remember was coming home one day and a few houses from my house my brothers and about 5 of their male friends were waiting for me. As I approached a chorus of adolescent voices sang out ” Zit Face” over and over as I ran past them and in to my house. When I told my mother about what had happened she told me I was too sensitive and that I should just let it runs off of back. She didn’t realize that her response reinforced my humiliation. It is one thing to experience bullying and another not to get support to deal with it.
Bullying Causes Long-Term Emotional Damage
Studies show that the experience of being bullied can end up causing lasting damage to victims. If I think about it I am still impacted by the experience several ways. I know from personal experience that bullying can drain the beauty out of you. As a teenage girl, just starting to be interested in the opposite sex I internalized feelings of not being beautiful and questioned if boys would like me. I am sure that on an unconscious level this still impacts me today. Words and gestures can cause more harm than physical assault, especially damage that is sustained during the formative childhood years when our concept of your self is being created. Bullying causes damage to their self-concepts; to their identities. Being the repetitive target of bullying damages your ability to view yourself as a desirable, capable and effective individual.
It would be great if the average person was possessed of unshakable self-confidence, but this just isn’t how identity works. Identity is a social process, that is developed when we are children based on how other people interact with us. Confidence is based on experiences of success. Bullying teaches people that they are explicitly not part of groups; that they are outcasts and outsiders. It is hard to doubt the reality of being an outcast and an outsider when you have been beaten or otherwise publicly humiliated. I was taught at a formidable developmental stage that I was not attractive and undesirable. My brothers reinforced this by telling me I was ugly.
I am so happy that this issue is getting more attention and adults in school and at home are beginning to put things in place to stop bullying. I know now that I wasn’t “too sensitive” but that I was reacting to the sting of abuse. Adults have a responsibility to their daughters and sons to protect them from this behavior and help them develop a healthy self concept. Don’t let anyone bully the beauty out of your precious children.
There are a lot of resources available to parents to help them understand what bullying is and the impact of bullying on children, as well as ways to support children who are being bullied.
Our Natural Beauty is what we are born with. It can get covered up in many ways as we go through life. Some of that is beyond our control but much of it we can do something about. Here are some things we can do for our Inside Beauty and our Outside beauty to maintain the natural beauty we were born with.
One way to enhance your natural beauty is to give your body good food. When we eat healthy foods we look healthy, radiant and alive. Our food sources have become devoid of nutrition over the years through processing and food additives. Much of what is sold as food isn’t even food anymore because it has been processed so much. It is sobering to think that the life expectancy of the current generation is less than ours because of the food they are being fed. If you are eating and serving processed foods you are doing a disservice to your body. It is important to learn what foods are good and what to avoid. Fresh is best. If you can eat organic that is even better because you are assured that there are no additives and if you can eat raw food that is even better. Eating raw foods is the most alive food you can get. Throw the microwave out and stay away from the processed food isle and get a good whole foods cookbook and you are taking steps to enhance your health and your beauty.
It is important to learn which supplements to take daily to support a healthy body, healthy skin, energy and vitality. We do need to supplement our foods because our soils have been depleted of important minerals for our bodies. Did you know that all multivitamins are not created equal? First of all your vitamin needs to be bio-available so that it is absorbed by the body. It also needs to break down quickly. I have done a test with the multivitamin that I take and multivitamins from stores like Walgreens. I put both vitamins in water to see what happens because this is what will happen in your stomach. My vitamin breaks down in water very quickly and the other vitamin sits there in its original form. Many multivitamins on the market stay the way they were when you swallowed it and pass through your system without breaking down and you get very little value from it. Click here for the multiple vitamin that I take every day and a video that tells you why:
It is also important to detoxify your body inside and out. I have written about this subject before and here are some simple things you can do to detoxify. Toxins in your body rob you of your energy, radiance and vitality, the ingredients that are our true beauty. One easy way to do that is to take greens. Greens are a powered form of green fruits, vegetables and herbs that you can purchase at the coop or Whole Foods store that you can put in water or juice and drink. This will help your body released toxins stored in the organs and also keep it alkaline so that you can avoid getting sick. Disease can’t live in a properly alkalized body. I take greens every day and I choose Greens from It Works because they taste great and contain 8 servings of fruits and vegetables, but any green product you choose will help. If you detoxify your body you will optimize your well-being and your beauty will shine.
Did you know that the skin is the largest organ in the body and it mirrors your inner well-being. Our skin is a living, breathing part of our bodies. Not only does it performs many vital functions including protection from toxins in the environment, sensation, heat regulation, evaporation control, storage and synthesis, and absorption of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide and water resistance and in many ways, helping us define who we are.
By nourishing skin on the outside, we are also protecting our insides. Skin topography is the most important indicator of a person’s age. The quality of skin is one of the first physical factors we notice upon meeting someone. Following a healthy skin care regime can take years off a person by slowing down the natural signs of aging. Cultivating healthy and vibrant skin immediately increases a person’s natural beauty as well.
Every day our skin is exposed to a number of environmental toxins. Factors like UV light , smog and smoke trigger a cascade of free- radical activity in the cells. Over time this can lead to dehydration, wrinkling and sun damage all of which take away from it’s natural beauty. Several factors contribute to this appearance, such as adequate nourishment, hydration, sleep, exercise, cleansing, moisturizing and sun protection. The best cosmetics actually improve the health of your skin by protecting and nourishing healthy skin cells.
One of the best and easiest detoxification system I know is the one I use on a regular basis. The Ultimate Body Applicator was created as a detoxification product to release toxins from the fat cells where they become encapsulated. This is such an easy product to use and you won’t experience the typical side effects you get with other detox systems. Not only does it detoxify but it hydrates, tightens, tones and firms the skin so it has a slimming effect too.
The cosmetics and lotions you apply to your skin are absorbed into the body just as the foods and drinks you consume. Many cosmetics and skin care products have harmful ingredients that you skin is going to drink in so you want to be careful what you use. Healthy skin supplements can be found in the form of vitamins from a health food store or from natural food sources containing skin protecting antioxidants.
One simple yet vital step you can take to support your skin is to drink plenty of water to hydrate your skin and offset the lack of humidity. Alcohol, coffee and tea dehydrate the body and soda is not only hard on your skin but your entire body. If you really don’t like the taste of water, add lemon or lime juice, or eat more foods with a high water content.
Another simple thing you can add is coconut oil which is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also an effective moisturizer when applied directly to the skin. Food-based facial masks can be nourishing. Avocado mashed with a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of flax seed oil softens the skin. A mask of lemon juice and rosewater or a paste of ground mint leaves may have some lightening effect on darkened, sun-damaged skin. Rinse each mask application with warm water after 15 minutes.
Exfoliate your skin once or twice a week and your face as needed to remove dead, flaky skin. This can be done with a dry brush before you enter the shower so the dead skin is washed away. I like to do it everyday to keep my skin healthy and help move toxins.
There are many great skin care products on the market. Follow this link to learn about the ones I use; My Skincare.
These are just a few things that you can do to enhance your beauty inside and outside your body.
I don’t know about you but I don’t like to look at photographs of myself. I don’t think I am very photogenic and that photos don’t always reveal my true beauty, but they still cause a lot of self judgment.
Since April I have lost 12 pounds and 22 inches and I have been feeling thin and beautiful lately. That is until this weekend when I was at an event and a lot of photos were taken. In my opinion many of the photos of me were unflattering AND they ended up on Facebook! You know the ones. You have just put something in your mouth and someone snaps a picture. You just looked sideways and someone snapped a picture and you end up looking like the devil’s spawn or you just looked down and your single chin has just become three. I also hate that the camera adds 10 pounds so there goes my weight loss!
There are usually a couple of good photos out of the bunch but are they the ones you focus on, NOT for a minute. Personally I focus on the not so good ones and start to judge myself. This is a distortion, like the face of the woman above. I may not even really look that bad to other people but I do to myself.
Here is the problem with that. The negative thoughts become like a mantra in the mind and from that space we create our reality. So in my case, if I am thinking “I look fat!”, or “my face looks old”, or ” I don’t know want other people to see these photos because they will judge me.”, that is what I am creating. I am putting out into the Universe that I am fat, which creates more FAT! I am saying to the Universe that people will judge me, and guess what, someone will show up in my life to judge me. I can be the worse self-critic and until I stop doing it there will always be someone who joins me in the pursuit.
I have had this reaction to photos of myself all of my life and here is the interesting phenomena. When I look back on the same photos of me, I can see my beauty. Yes, photos that I could hardly look at look beautiful in retrospect. Some of my favorite photos are ones I couldn’t stand originally. I have heard this same thing from other women I have talked with.
Why is it so hard to embrace all of our faces? Why do we focus on the unflattering images instead of focusing on the ones that look good to us? I think it goes right back to the unconscious programing about how we should look. I have been on a path of personal and spiritual development for over 25 years and yet this issues still creeps into my consciousness. I know I am beautiful inside and out on many levels. Subconscious programing runs deep and even the most evolved among us are thrown off by it from time to time. It just gives us another opportunity to embrace ourselves and love ourselves more deeply.
First I have to admit that fitness and working out is not in my blood. It was never part of my life growing up. I did play softball a few summers but I wasn’t very good so I never got hooked into sports. I tried out for cheerleading when I was in High School but that didn’t happen either, so most of my life if I did anything physical it was just dabbling and it didn’t last very long. The idea of working with a trainer would have been a long shot in the past and seeing me in boxing gloves, never! I actually really enjoy boxing. Maybe there is a new career emerging!
The way I see getting physically fit connected to natural beauty is deeper than the obvious looking better. When our body is fit it effects everything from self-esteem to a stronger immune system to easy of movement all of which add to the level of beauty that is shining out of you from the inside.
My personal trainer, Andrea Austin connect with me on LinkedIn, a website where business people connect. She offered me a free consult and I was in a place where I was interested in exploring it so we set up a consultation. Andrea has what she calls a boutique studio. It is in her home on the East side of St. Paul. You walk in the front door and her living room is transformed into a gym. Rumor has it so is her lower level, but I haven’t been down there yet.
A bit of background that has led me to decide to work with a personal trainer is in order first. I have been a distributor with a company called It Works! for three years. Our product line consists of anti-aging products, nutritional supplements and a product called the Ultimate Body Applicator, which detoxifies and slims the body in as little as 45 minutes. I have been using a number of our products consistently for the last two years and have seen dramatic changes in my body, including weight and inch loss, increase in stamina and energy and a more youthful look. All of these changes have led me to the place where I want to get more strength and flexibility. I prefer to use nutriceuticals instead of pharmaceuticals and want to avoid the diseases that are common in my family such as diabetes and heart disease. My three siblings and my mother have diabetes. So getting in shape was a logical step and so was Andrea.
Our initial consultation included a workout and I was surprised at how well I did. I like Andrea’s non-judgmental, encouraging approach. She also believes in small steps. This is really important to me because I am not a workout jock and I am starting later in life.
It has been two weeks since we started working together and I have seen dramatic changes in my body already. I know the combination of being consistent with my workout at home and the It Works! products I take to support me is a winning combination. I have lost 5 pounds and 6 inches in that short of time and Andrea commented yesterday that she could already see my waistline emerging. If you go to my link at the top of the blog called “Quintessential Health and Wellness” you will find my comments on the products I am using and how they are supporting my fitness program. I will be blogging about my fitness journey and posting photos in the weeks and months ahead as I transform my body.
I am going to reveal something that I have never told anyone in my adult life. In fact I don’t think I ever told anyone! I am a Wendy Ward Charm School Graduate. Yes you heard me, Charm School, and yes, I did graduate! My best friend, Mary, who was tall and gorgeous and looked like she was in her 20’s when we were only 14, was going and if she was going, so was I. By the way, I wasn’t tall and gorgeous, I was short and curve less and flat chested and looked more like a boy. My parents hope was that Wendy Ward Charm School would make me look and act more like Mary and less like her younger brother John who was also my best friend. That would have been okay with me too, at the time.
For those who don’t know about Wendy Ward Charm School, it was “ A Wonderful 6-week Finishing and Fashion course offered for Girls 4-19. “ Mrs. Jessie Ventura, the wife of Minnesota’s former governor was a graduate. There were Wendy Ward Charm Schools all over the United States in the 60′s. The classes at my Charm School took place somewhere in the bowels of the old Montgomery Ward building on University Ave, in St. Paul in a room that had no windows. We went every Saturday for six weeks and every Saturday I was scared to death. My group was all girls in their teens and I think they all wanted to grow up to be models.
We learned the social graces, poise and self-confidence, correct posture by walking with books on our heads, proper grooming, how to dress, how to sit properly in a skirt so nothing showed. We learned how to walk the run way, with our foot in the “one-o’clock” position, poised at ready to stand and look alluring, or to turn quickly and make a graceful exit. I haven’t use the skills since that time, except the proper way to wash your face! We concluded with a fashion show wearing Montgomery Ward fashions that we picked ourselves, because by then we knew what it meant to be beautiful and what you can wear to enhance it. We learned all of that in six weeks! They gave us a Wendy Ward Charm School manual so we wouldn’t forget. I wish I could find it now.
As a young girl and well into my late teens I was a tomboy. I had to learn how to survive with three brothers and becoming a “boy” was the only way I found that worked. I wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress, though I was forced to wear one a few times. I always had dirt under my fingernails and band aids on my knees. I could climb trees, build forts, catch frogs, pick up snakes and eat weeds better than my three brothers and all the boys in the neighborhood. I was very disappointed when I reached the age where I had to start wearing a shirt all the time. I wasn’t Charm School material! I wasn’t interested in how to apply make up and lipstick or pluck my eyebrows.
What Charm School actually did for me was get me on that slippery slope of what society thought was true beauty. What stuck with me out of all that I learned was the awareness and embarrassment of my own flaws. I wasn’t charming and poised when I was finished nor did I have great posture and self-confidence. I learned that I had a square face, and that wasn’t as desireable as an oval, but there were things you could do with your hair and make up to make it look more oval. I bet you didn’t know that you were blessed if you had an oval face and high cheek bones and were cursed if you had a square one. I learned that tall with long legs, like my friend, was better for modeling than short and nondescript, like me. I learned that there was a standard for what beauty was, and I didn’t fall into that standard. Television, magazines and the media and my three brothers re-inforced that.
I came out of Charm School feeling more like the Ugly Duckling, than Princess Charming. For a lot of my adult life I had a skewed prospective of what beauty was and like many women I was seeing a distorted image of myself when I looked in the mirror. This shallow sense of beauty still goes on today only now there is airbrushing and advance technologies in make up, there is hair extensions and liposuction. Women are still falling into the mirror of the beauty spell and so are young girls. The subject comes up often with adolescent girls that I work with in therapy and it puts me on my soapbox about what beauty really means.
So…what is true beauty anyway, and how can we break the social spell?
Footnote: More About Wendy Ward Charm School:
The Wendy Ward Charm School was part of a national initiative launched by Montgomery Ward’s in the mid-1960s to tap into teenage fashion trends in different parts of the country. It grew into a national phenomenon at Ward’s stores across the country.
There were weekly fashion shows in Montgomery Ward’s first floor cafeteria, where the girls modeled clothes they chose themselves. The graduation ceremony consisted of a full length runway show, held in the lower level of the store and featuring the girls in a choreographed show that showcased Ward fashions for teens.
Girls in the program also had the chance to be selected for the Pacesetters Teen Board a role which combined local appearances and promotional work with community service projects. Pictures of the teen board members hung in the center of Ward’s juniors department, and they became role models for their peers. That was the coveted prize we were all trying to win! Dang, I wanted to win that so baaaad!