Love’s Labour’s Lost (Or Why Yoga Pants are Bad for Your Marriage)

Oh sing it sister!

Wine and Cheese (Doodles)

vintage-wedding-veil“Oh,” my husband recently sighed.   “The yoga pants.”

Sometimes it takes a cataclysmic event to rock your relationship, to make you sit down and take a good, hard look at your emotional surroundings; a serious illness, an extra-marital affair, a trial or a tribulation that must be faced.  Sometimes those head on collisions, those crashes of reality versus expectation, are the tipping point in whether a marriage survives, or whether it bursts into flames on the way down.  Summits are called, G8 meetings of marital accord.  Contracts are pulled out and scrutinized.  They may be renegotiated, they may be declared sound and worthy, they may be declared null and void.  Statistics are on your side, either way.

But sometimes it is not the seismic jolt of matrimonial earth, but a slight shift of a relationship fault line.  Something seemingly inconsequential.  A subtle shift in attitude, an air of difference…

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Can we, as women, ever be happy just the way we are?

Yesterday, one of the headlining stories on my AOL home page is about a woman called water_anus. Yes, that is the name she chose to use to represent her on the internet.  Anyway, water_anus is stirring it up over there on reddit.com because she posted pictures of herself with and without make-up. This is nothing new, but it made me think about the importance of perception. How we see ourselves and how others see us are nearly always two different things.

Researchers did an exercise with teenage girls about body image. They gave them each a piece of paper long enough to match their height and asked them to draw what they thought was the outline of their body.  Then they asked the girls to lie down inside the image that they had drawn. Each girl’s actual body was then outlined on top of the image the girls had drawn. When they were finished, the girls were amazed to find that the outline they drew of themselves was much bigger, than what the researcher’s actually traced.

Do we want to be accepted for who we really are? Sure we do. But the truth is, for the most part, we aren’t.  Studies have been done on the correlation between appearance and getting a job. Often times, more attractive, but less qualified applicants will get a job over a less attractive applicant who is more qualified. Let’s face it being attractive is a pretty good thing.

Who’s to say what makes someone attractive? Well definitely the media plays a big part in it. That’s pretty much a no brainer. Cameron Russell, a model, who has walked the runways for Victoria Secret and Channel, gave a talk on TED, (Technology, Entertainment, and Design).  She walked out on stage wearing a very tight, short, brown mini dress and 5 inch heels. When she began to speak she looks like she feels out-of-place and insecure. I know, right, this beautiful, leggy, sexy woman, looking awkward.  But she says she feels like she’s making other woman in the audience uncomfortable so she goes about transforming herself from sexy model to geek chic. By taking off her 5 inch heels, slipping on flat shoes, wearing a sweater and maxi length wrap skirt. Her appearance changes from slinky, sexy model to a more comfortable dressed, attractive, “ any” women. I believe it took 10 seconds to transform what everyone thought of her.

They should show this video to girls in school.  I’ve included this link to Cameron’s talk here:

http://www.ted.com/talks/cameron_russell_looks_aren_t_everything_believe_me_i_m_a_model.html

In it, she shows pictures of herself at a young age when she first began to model.  She contrasts the pictures taken of her on the same day. In one,  she looks like an average gawky 16-year-old at a sleep over with her friends.  to the picture of her, taken that same day, that appeared in a magazine. She wants other women and girls to know how many people and how much work it to make her appear the way she did in the magazine.  She refers to herself as “the product” of the way the magazine wants her to look so her image can sell a product.

Moms, Dads, anyone who cares for girls should make them sit down and watch this video. I’m not saying it will change their minds from thinking that they should be thinner, prettier or smarting than they think they are, but maybe somewhere, in the back of their minds, they might be able to understand that they are being programmed by magazines, TV and film to think that they will never be good enough.

I showed the video to my own 16-year-old daughter.  At first I had to stand there with her and make sure she watched it. Then, slowly, it caught her attention. She sat down, on her own, in my chair and watched the video with her full attention.  I asked her if it changed her mind at all about her self-esteem issues.

She said, “There will always but someone, smarter, thinner and prettier than me.”

I hope at some level, she, and all women, will learn to love and accept themselves.  Just like in the song Bruno Mars sings, “Cause you’re amazing, just the way you are.” And she is. I just hope someday, she, and all women can come to realize that.

From the pages of a magazine

From the pages of a magazine

Cameron Russell speaking at TED Talks

Cameron Russell speaking at TED Talks

Interview with Emily Dayton

Suicide is a long-term solution to a short-term problem.

Project Light to Life

Hi all! I want to give a big thank you to Emily Dayton for agreeing to do an interview with me. Emily began a suicide prevention movement, though they are not only a suicide prevention group, with her parents known as You Can NOT Be Replaced. At first, they ordered just 500 wristbands, but at their one year mark, they had over 14,000 wristbands circulating across the country. They run a very inspirational movement, speak at school assemblies, and do so much more. Talk about inspirational! Although September is suicide prevention month, I think that suicide prevention and Emily’s movement are important things to promote at any time of the year because you truly cannot be replaced. Please check out my interview with Emily below:

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1. Can you tell me a little bit about the movement that you and your parents started and why?

The movement that my parents and…

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The Wonder Years

After receiving this assignment, I went through my purse, my desk and junk drawer.  I couldn’t find anything to interesting to write about. When suddenly the “To Do List” my oldest daughter left lying on my desk caught my eye. I’m currently having an ongoing, well let’s see, what should I call it? Disagreement; is probably the best way to describe it, with my 18-year-old daughter. A “To Do List”, she left on my desk, not for herself, but for me! It hit me like a bucket of cold water in the face. What kind of insanity is this? When did I become her secretary? She walks around declaring her independence. I know this is a stage that every teen goes through, but I really don’t remember the part of stage where I become her secretary. Anyone else get “To Do Lists” from their teenage children? Maybe it’s just me.

I’m calling this piece “The Wonder Years” because I’m wondering exactly where I went wrong.  I grew up in a lower middle class home. My father worked in an oil refinery and my mother stayed at home. We struggled to make ends meet. You better make sure you shut the windows and turned the lights out at my house. There was no college fund for me. If I wanted to have a fancy wedding, I would have to pay for it.  Growing up I knew I would have to work hard to get what I wanted out of life.

My family has been fortunate.  Our children grew up in a somewhat affluent atmosphere, and yes, I’ll say it, we spoiled them. We also encouraged and stressed that they could be whatever they wanted. We wanted to raise our children differently than then how we had been raised. Although, I still do find myself yelling about shutting windows and turning off lights. Out of love, we told our children they were special. Everyone gets a ribbon, just for participating, trophies for all the children on the team whether they won or lost. By raising our children this way, I believe we set our children’s expectations too high and ultimately, set them up to be unhappy.

This high self-esteem that we were trying to foster in our children has actually back fired. When your child is not accepted at a fancy “name brand” college and has to shockingly, settle, for a local or dare I say it, community college.  They get a nice, big, bitter taste of reality. The world, it seems, doesn’t care how special they are.  You don’t have to go to a big name school in order to get a good job. Try and tell that to a child who you’ve been telling how wonderful they are all their life. I finally told my daughter, after almost 4 months of listening to her complaining about having to go to a local college,

“Get over it. Move forward from here. This is the real world.” Welcome! It’s tough out there. Wear a helmet.