Tag Archive | authenticity

Be the total expression of YOU!

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!

 

Weird is Beautiful!

 

 

You are weird!

Has anyone ever said that to you?  Did it feel like a complement or a put down?

I started thinking about the word and decided to look it up and see what the origin was.  Here is what I found: Wyrd is a concept in Anglo-Saxon culture roughly corresponding to fate or personal destiny.  The word is ancestral to Modern English weird, which retains its original meaning only dialectically.  Old English wyrd is a verbal noun formed from the verb weorþan, meaning “to come to pass, to become”.

Wow, really?

That is a long way from the meaning it has now, which is something strange, odd and sometimes unacceptable. The modern adjectival sense, meaning strange or uncanny, dates only to the early nineteenth century.  The modern sense of weird developed from M.E. use of weird sisters for the three fates or Norns (in Germanic mythology), the goddesses who controlled human destiny. They were usually portrayed as odd or frightening in appearance, as in “Macbeth,” which led to the adj. meaning “odd-looking, uncanny,” first recorded 1815.

I love the original meaning of weird/wyrd because it speaks to authenticity, being real and living our destiny.  That meaning is about our true beauty which is what I strive to embody and what this blog is all about.  My friend Deb Schanilec from Connected and Committed and I decided that the word weorþan should be a resistance toy.  A resistance toy is something you keep around to remind you of where you want to be when you come up against resistance.  weorþan is a word that reminds me I want to be authentic and real.  It reminds me that I want to drop the “Minnesota Nice” and speak what is on my mind. It reminds me to flow with what I am becoming and flow with my destiny.   I am going to write the word weorþan in fancy letters and place it around my house.

I wonder how originality and authenticity became weird and conformity became the norm?  It’s easier!  Or so we think. We are socialized to conform and change our beliefs and behaviors to fit in with a group.  It starts at a very early age. This change is a response to real or imagined group pressure, on the playground by our peers and later through the media.  Media advertizing works because our brains are programmed to conform at an unconscious level through years of training as children. We all want to be accepted and fit in and it takes courage to do something different and stand out in the crowd. Conformity is rewarded in a lot of different ways and being unique and authentic sadly isn’t.  If it wasn’t rewarded it wouldn’t be an issue.

It is a challenge to become Weird Weorþan Warriors yet unraveling the social programing to conform is possible.  It is never too late to become your authentic beautiful self and it takes a whole lot less energy than pretending to be something you’re not.

  Here are some experiments to try that will help you break free of fitting in and move your toward authentic freedom:

1-Watch how much you censor yourself because you want to be accepted and stop doing it.

2-Wear stripes and plaids at the same time or some other “unacceptable” combination.

3-Spend one day a week being weird.

4-Do the opposite behavior of what you would normally do and see how it feels.

5-Focus on what makes you unique and accentuate it.

I also suggest paying attention to your resistance to doing these things and see where it comes from.  It is likely to lead to an unconscious belief that isn’t serving you.

I think weird is beautiful!  What do you think?

Velveteen Rabbit Beauty

The “cool dude” pictured above is my version of the Velveteen Rabbit.  I named him “Sunny” because he always wears his fabulous sun glasses, (because they are sewed to his head) and he has an awesome disposition. I imagine he was cool when he was new, but he is super cool now.  He is a homemade rabbit and I bet some little old lady made him for her grandson or granddaughter.  I bet he looked awesome in his bright red pants and his red, unscratched sunglasses and I bet his brown plush fur was amazing, but back than he hadn’t become real yet.

I bought him at an antique shop years ago and he was already old.  That is what I like about him. I know for sure he was loved before I got him and he has sure been loved since he moved in with me.  He is old, dusty, not so cuddly and his red overalls are now pink, so they almost match his pink sunglasses, which probably use to be red too. He doesn’t seem to mind that his pants and glasses are pink.  His fur is worn out in some places and his yarn features are wearing away, but you can still see his smile.  Sunny is Real!  He is the best Sunny I know, because he is his authentic self.

The Velveteen Rabbit Realness

Most of us read the Velveteen Rabbit when we were children.  It is the story of a little toy stuffed rabbit who dreams of becoming “real”.  The Velveteen Rabbit gets advice from the Old Skin Horse who’d lived in the nursery longer than any of the other animals. He was the resident old soul and he was wise and kind. The Velveteen Rabbit longed to become real and it was the wizened old Skin Horse that had the answers.

The Skin Horse told Rabbit, “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”   I love that!  You are only ugly to people who don’t know you and who don’t understand you.

Beauty – true beauty – is about being real. It’s about becoming the real person that you were intended to be, which is really a challenge when most of society trains us to conform.  We are told that to fit in and be loved we must be like other people.  The silly thing about that is that each of us is unique and no one can be like us.  No one can do the special things we came to do.  No one looks like us, has our personality or our special gifts.  To think we could all be the same is like comparing apples to oranges.

The Pulse of Beauty

The pulse of beauty has always come from Hollywood or Paris through models who work 10-12 hours a day to maintain the way they look. Many of them suffer from eating disorders because the weight standards are so low.  With modern technology they can be touched up through Photoshop before they even hit the magazines they are featured in.   The Hollywood version of beauty is not real, it is manipulated and so are we if we buy into it.

The fashion world creates trends, and we are led to believe that we need to keep up with the current fashions.  When I was in high school if you weren’t wearing the current fashion trend you were not considered cool.  I know it is still that way and Abercrombie and Fitch, Tommy Hilfiger and Vera Wang seem to know what we would all look good in.  What if I want to wear faded pink overalls and scratched pink sunglasses, like Sunny does, will that make me look less beautiful?  I know for sure that I would have been laughed at back in High School because that is where conformity really took it’s roots.

Becoming Real

It’s just as Margery Williams said in The Velveteen Rabbit. “Real isn’t how you are made,” the skin horse told the Velveteen Rabbit in this meaningful story. Rather, “it’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”  Real isn’t how we look or what we wear.  Life makes us more beautiful because of our life experiences, which push us to become more authentic.  Life makes our pants fade, scratches our sunglasses and wears off our fur and in the process we become more beautiful.

I have learned that beauty is truly about “being real,”, which means being the best you that you can be.  When you hold back and don’t shine your true self, others miss out on something that is very precious.   To me, choosing to be present and open and living from your heart is being real and just like the Velveteen Rabbit, understanding that only loving and believing in yourself can make you real

True beauty has so very little to do with what you look like, but everything to do with what you radiate from within.

What would happen if we all stopped paying attention to the Hollywood and Paris status quo?  What if we dressed to suit our hearts desire and let our soul speak out.  What if we embraced our uniqueness and lived authentic lives? What if we didn’t cover up and hide who we are to fit in?  What if we didn’t care what people thought about us?  What if we said what we meant and meant what we said? What would the world look like if we were all Real? I think that is the way things are heading and I can wait to watch what happens.

Beauty Control

I am sure if you focus on your qualities and the beauty around you for long enough you will be inspired. – Faith Ogunkoya

The issue of media painting a picture of the ideal body is an old issue and I don’t want to give it a lot more energy because I am about changing it. I think it is important to know the origins, just for the sake of understanding.  The ideal standard of beauty has been a social implant for a long time not only in the USA but around the world.

I know people have thought about this and written about it a lot, yet I still feel it is impacting women on a regular basis, especially with all the technology that can change the way someone looks.  During my career as a therapist I saw it all the time in the teenage girls I worked with.  I don’t remember one out of hundreds that felt beautiful. I talk to women all the time who say they don’t see their beauty and never have.

Women tend to carry the burden of a negative body image, which can lead to depression, addictive exercising, self abusive behavior, and disordered eating in an effort to fit the norm portrayed by fashion magazines, movie stars, and television programs.  Eating disorders are more common than you would imagine in teens.  It isn’t just women and girls that have distorted body images, many women do.  We aren’t sure if we are fat but we are always worried that we are.

I chose the title of Beauty Control with the idea that maybe creating a standard of beauty is a way to control women.  This may be a bold statement but when you think about the fact that women were just starting to speak out for equal rights in the 60’s it could have been quite threatening to the dominant gender and much of the media programming about body image came at the same time.  Coincidence?  Maybe.

I was curious to see if there was anything written about my theory and found a number of articles.  My thought was “What the media has done around a perception of beauty is a form of mind control”. I first looked up the words conditioning and mind control and found it  described as:

Mind control (also known as brainwashing, coercive persuasion, mind abuse, thought control, or thought reform) refers to a process in which a group or individual “systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s), often to the detriment of the person being manipulated”. The term has been applied to any tactic, psychological or otherwise, which can be seen as subverting an individual’s sense of control over their own thinking, behavior, emotions or decision-making.

Women of all ages are being programmed to think they are not beautiful unless they look like magazine covers, we need to help them realize that only through the use of make-up, lighting, air brushing and staging, is why these women look that way.  Is this a way to keep women distracted so they don’t speak up, because it works  that way.

Images of female bodies are everywhere and women and their body parts have been used to sell everything from jeans, cola, food and cars. Advertising communicates the codes of proper appearance through meta-images, which means if you are watching television you are being programmed subliminally. Women’s magazines are full of articles urging that if women can just lose those last twenty pounds, they’ll have it all from the perfect marriage, loving children, great sex, and a rewarding career.  Many men still pick their mates based on the image of the ideal women.

This made me wonder if body image and superficial beauty was a way of controlling women subconsciously. I found an article that supported this idea and here is an excerpt from it:

“What crosscuts the variety of female physiques is the linkage of beauty with femininity. Historically, Western somatic and sartorial ideals articulate with a culture of beauty. The history of women’s bodies in the U.S. is indeed a history of beauty” (Bolin 1992:81). A culture of beauty helps keep women passive by defining them in terms of how they look rather than what they do. It is also directly tied to capitalism. When beauty images change, bodies are expected to change with them and women spend massive amounts of time and money to live up to these ever-changing ideals. Women’s bodies now require a multiplicity of looks they are expected to attain effortlessly: a multifunctional body responsive to the whims of fashion and the postmodern aesthetic. Dress reform is indeed body reform and societal reform.”

This push for women to conform to current dress and appearance standards has a way of taking originality away and making everyone more the same.  Removing imagination.  Those that dress outside of the standard stand out and often feel uncomfortable.  Those are the young girls that get bullied, teased and left out.

Researchers report that women’s magazines have ten and one-half times more ads and articles promoting weight loss than men’s magazines do, and over three-quarters of the covers of women’s magazines include at least one message about how to change a woman’s bodily appearance by diet, exercise or cosmetic surgery.

We know that the more time we spend with anything, the more influence it has on us. The best way to teach is repetition and women are inundated with repetitive images of what we should look like all of the time.  Without even thinking about it these repetitive images go into our psyches and program our beliefs.  Even those some of the research is from the 80-90 this kind of programming takes a long time to unravel, especially when we continue to be surrounded by the same kind of images.  Subconscious programming is the most difficult to discover, let alone shift.

When I was a kid the role models for the ideal body were Twiggy and Barbie. Twiggy was rail thin with, big eyes and giant eye lashes.   Barbie has been a cultural icon of female image since the 60’s.  On one has she is a good role model for being an independent woman who can do anything, it is her body that is the problem.  Young girls played with Barbie dolls and look to her as an idol, and an image of  attractive, success and leave girls craving lives a life of gloss and glamour.  We had relationships with these dolls, we talked for them and animated them, and they were an extension of who we were.  We wanted to have the best outfits for our Barbie so we could out do our girlfriends and that followed us into real life as teens. Adolescent girls try to out do each other in the clothing department, and it is about who looks the best.  When I was a teen we didn’t have much money and I only had three outfits that I rotated.  I went to a school where fashion was the thing and a lot of the girls came from wealthy families.  I always felt like I couldn’t compete or measure up because I couldn’t keep up with the current style.

Researchers generating a computer model of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions, for example, found that her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body, and her body would be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and a few centimeters of bowel. A real woman built that way would suffer from chronic diarrhea and eventually die from malnutrition.  I remember wanted to be 36-26-36 which at the time was the ideal proportions for a women’s body, no matter who tall you were.

Mattel received many criticisms about Barbie and the impact she has on young girls around the world. In the summer of 2000, they decided to change Barbie to a more modern look. “The new Barbie will have a more natural body shape – less busty with wider hips.”

Here is another interesting statement I found in an article by Barbara A Cohen PhD about the psychology of body image:

‘The achievement and maintenance of thinness and beauty is a major female pastime, as reflected by all of the magazines, newspaper articles, T.V. shows, commercials, idealized role models, and books that are aimed at the female audience. This endeavor consumes an enormous portion of the females’ time, energy and money, leaving her little time for other activities and/or important life issues. But, we as women play a major role in perpetuating our culture’s ridiculous ideals by buying into the image with the purchase of the magazines, diet books, beauty books and designer clothes thrust upon us, rather than developing an acceptable, personal idealized image of our own. By refusing to take that responsibility, we indeed perpetuate our own lives of dissatisfaction and self-hatred, and this need not be so.

The task for women of our time is to take back our beauty and stop buying into the cultural ideals. We are taking it back for our children, grand children and their children so they don’t have to try to live up to an artificial standard and so they can embrace their unique beauty from the beginning.   The beauty that is beyond the superficial standard and is unique to each of us.  It is time to stand in our authenticity as women and defy the old standard by replacing it with the power that comes from being who we truly are.  We can do that by finding and embracing our beautifulness, finding our personal style and expressing our uniqueness.


Hello Beautiful World!

Welcome to my blog!

The subject of this blog, Beauty, has been both a challenge to me and a blessing.  Much of my life I struggle to see my own beauty and could only see it when I looked back at pictures of myself, but couldn’t see it in the present.  I still have my own mini war with it but that is changing.  I don’t look like a Hollywood model, but guess what, neither do they!  Take away the 6 hours of make up and hair styling and they look just like the rest of us.  Beautiful in their own way.

Many are finding themselves lonely in this world obsessed with beauty and youth, and it can be hard if you feel you don’t measure up to the images we have been spoon fed all of our lives.  I believe we are in a crisis of beauty and that is what is wrong with the world.  People judge each other all of the time about what they think is beauty or lack there of.  Much of this dialog happens in a split second in a less than conscious, habitual way based on the images we have been fed.  How can that have any value?  Yet we internalize what we hear, see and experience as beauty and hold it up as a mirror to judge ourselves.

Our task is to be authentic and become secure in our own beauty, both inside and out, so that it doesn’t matter what others think. In reality we all have our own unique beauty, that can’t be duplicating and comparing ourselves to someone else is like comparing apples to oranges. Why should someone else’s unconscious opinion, based on false standards supersede our own?

Come along with me on this adventure to find BEAUTY…