Love Thyself as Thy Neighbor

My reason for resolving
Happy new year, all!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday and are starting out the year feeling refreshed and excited!

I have to tell you, New Year's is probably my least favorite of the big holidays, and I NEVER make resolutions, however I actually have made one this year.  They say that by telling someone else your goals you're more likely to see them through, so I figured that by sending them out into the ether that is the internet I should be banking a sure thing. :)

My resolution is fairly traditional in the fact that it's in relation to my appearance.  While I would be lying if I said I didn't want to lose a few pounds, the goal is actually not traditional in that respect.  My resolution is to be more accepting of what I look like and to be more confident and loving toward myself.

Like many women, I have spent much of my life wishing I was taller, thinner, prettier.  I've wanted skinnier hips, narrower shoulders, longer legs, straighter teeth, a whiter smile... all the usual suspects.  Everything that every commercial, every model, every American TV show and film tells me I need to be beautiful.  To be sexy.  To be wanted.  To be worthwhile. 

Ironically, these same commercials, models, TV shows and films also have a public maxim of confidence and inclusion that they outwardly tout: "All women are beautiful," and "Love the skin you're in."  (Just make sure you love it AFTER you buy their beauty products, wear their clothing line, and feel awestruck and inadequate by the outward beauty of their paperdoll actresses.)  For me, the result of the mixed messages has, so far, been to make me aware of all of my "flaws" and ensure I feel guilty over my enlightenment.  So...yeah.

* * *

This year, however, my life changed.  Drastically.  This year I came face to face with something of true importance: a little nine pound baby girl with blue eyes, brown hair and the squishiest, most impish smile you can imagine.  She truly is beautiful.  But to be honest, even if she wasn't, I can't imagine loving my daughter any less. 

Even now, at eight months, she watches me constantly.  Granted, right now it's because she's studying my facial expressions, my words, my emotions - learning all of the basics of motor skills and communication.  But I would be foolish to think that she doesn't (or won't) pick up on all of the other pieces that make up my personality.  And she will learn from them.

What I don't want is for her to look at me and have my reaction to these beauty messages validate the messages themselves.  I don't want her to see someone who says "you're beautiful the way you are" but grimaces every time she sees her own reflection.  I don't want her to associate food with guilt, age with decreased beauty, body shape with desirability, or appearance with importance or success.  Those messages are everywhere, so she will wind up facing them at some point.  But they don't need to come from my example.

What's funny is that I don't feel that way about anyone else.  The women in my life are all different sizes, shapes and colors and I can say truthfully that I think they are all beautiful.  Are some of them overweight?  Yep.  Do they all have perfectly straight, white teeth?  Nope.  Would all of them turn heads when walking in a room?  Probably not.  But when one of them struggles with self confidence and self worth, it truly breaks my heart.  It breaks my heart that we all have such a limited definition of beauty that we can't see beyond our "flaws" to the loveliness that those around see.  That we can't love ourselves as we love our neighbors.  

Boy, this is long-winded. 

Short story long, my goal this year is to alter that in my own life, as best I can.  I want to make a conscious effort to change "I'm fat" to "I'm so thankful that I have enough to eat, and happy occasions to indulge with friends and family."  I'd like for "I wish I had longer legs" to become "I like my cute little legs that allow me to chase, dance and support my happy little munchkin."  I want "I hate my smile" to become "I am thrilled to have so many things in my life to smile about." Mostly, I want to grant myself grace and exemplify Audrey Hepburn's philosophy that "...happy girls are the prettiest girls."

So that's my resolution.  I frankly don't think it will be too easy - confidence has never been my strong point - and I can't promise I'll always follow through with it.  Jean shopping will still suck.  Bathing suit season may require some pep talks and, possibly, liquid courage.  I'm quite sure there will still be days where absolutely every piece of clothing I own will be on the floor of my room and I'll be melting down 'cause nothing fits and I hate the way I look in everything, and the most logical course of action will be to console myself with a bowl of whipped cream for which I will feel immensely guilty afterward.  (Not that that's ever happened before.) 

But I'm going to work on it.  I'm going to find something about myself every day that I like.  I'm going to try to be a good example to my lamb and a good friend to myself.  And if you want to join me, I'd love the company!  As Ben Franklin said, "Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors and let every new year find you a better man."

“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It's the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”- Audrey Hepburn

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  1. Thank you, as always, for your beautiful honesty. It's hard to be a woman in today's society, with such unrealistic expectations shoved in our faces all the time! I've been telling myself I need to do exactly what you're doing, for exactly the same reasons. I have no doubt that you will always be an inspiring role model for your sweet girl.

  2. Thank YOU for your kind words! I happen to know that you're a pretty amazing role model yourself :)

  3. Always an inspiration in everything you do. You know I battle so much with my self image too. I posted early this month something similar. That if you need someone to talk to about your self image or want someone to help push you, I want to be that person. But less than two weeks later I burst into tears because all of the clothes that a "stylist" picked out for me made me feel ugly and fat. I know I will have ups and downs but I am also working on my self image and wanting to help others. Let's be each other's support!


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