A nice one for the girls.

November 10, 2012

Just a quick post – as I’m watching the movie In Her Shoes on the telly.

What a delight. I’ve been enjoying it so much.

It has it’s touches of ‘Hollywood’ – yes – but the main protagonists are all women and we see all their flaws – their different shapes and looks – as well as their gifts.

It looks at the sisterhood…the good, the bad and the ugly.

And there’s beauty in their flaws.

Toni Collette is always her amazing self – a.mazing – and Cameron Diaz is fantastic; she was great in this role.  There’s also Shirley Maclaine…and last, but not least, a divine collection of gorgeous shoes!

It’s like you can kind of relate to every female character, in some tiny way (or in many)  – whether as a part of you or as a part of the women around you.

Complex women. Like us.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this movie with you – one that (I thought) portrayed a more truthful representation of a cross-section of women. This seems to be a lacking element of the movies nowadays.

Watch it one day – and please be sure to visit me again and tell me what you thought of it.

We need more movies like this.

Nigh Night.

I’ve had an epiphany – a bit of an ‘a-ha’ moment. Well, it wasn’t so much that I didn’t know it before, but more that I was hit with a simple and succinct realisation.

It’s the simplicity of it that is both liberating and equally terrifying – because regardless of its clarity – we are trapped.

You know all the famous modern icons? – I can’t believe what we call them ‘icons’ for – icons like Kim Kardashian?

We’re paying them.

In turn, they spend the money we give them on ‘perfecting’ themselves:

On make-up – THEY DON’T PAY FOR.

On clothes – THEY DON’T PAY FOR.

On ‘procedures’ – THEY DON’T PAY FOR.

Cars – Technology – ‘Gift Bags’ – EVERYTHING!…they don’t pay.

We do.

And then we worship them for creating the image we can never have (as I wrote in my penultimate post Why it’s worse now) and buy more beauty products, clothes, ‘procedures’ to try to replicate it. In turn, we keep fattening their pay packets, as the beauty industry uses them over and over again – making them icons.

THIS IS PURE INSANITY!

This vicious cycle is not only never-ending – its predatory qualities and hunger appear to be insatiable.

OK, here comes a Shout Out.

We are intelligent beings, ladies – VERY intelligent:

Question #87: So why are we doing it to ourselves? WHY?

And we are doing it from both sides – one side (the majority of us) perpetuate it by BUYING into this mono; limiting; ‘hot’ look, while on the other side, we also have the women who agree to represent us so poorly and participate in our exploitation that way.

It’s a trap.

As a fly is digested slowly in the Venus Fly Trap, so are we.

I don’t know about you, but that’s why this clarity is a tad terrifying to me – because its EFFECTS are devastating. Statistics are showing girls and women spiralling into a world of depression and worse. I even know many mothers who loathe their bodies after growing a human being in them – instead of wearing their shape with a pure sense of pride – of the miracles their bodies are.

But, as I said in response to a comment from the above-mentioned post, EVERYTHING IS TAUGHT. Everything.

So it’s time. Regardless of what’s happened in the past – the only way to move forward is to say, “OK, yes, we used to do it like that or accept things as they are – but not any more.

Do not pay any attention to women like Lara Bingle, who so graciously had the following picture of herself taken (which has also been photoshopped to an inch of its life):

…because as I’ve said to my students at school – ANYONE CAN DO THAT! Anyone can have sex. Anyone can take their clothes off. It’s not a difficult thing to do…and yet we end up rewarding women for doing just that??

The challenging and hard thing is NOT doing it the easy way – through shortcuts – as there’s always a price to pay…

…and ain’t we paying for it now!

The irony being that the money from our pockets, provides the funding for more.

I repeat: Why are we doing it to ourselves?

Deep Breath everyone – it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

x

Why it’s worse now.

September 2, 2012

I was cooking and my 9 year old daughter was keeping me company, chatting. It was great.

Yesterday, when I let her play on the computer, which is normally some sort of simple game, I went in to find her doing a ‘make-over’ on some cartoon girl. I told her to get off it. She didn’t make a fuss. Bless her.

So we were chatting about that tonight. I said that, in a way, that game was training her to become a girl who grooms herself in a particular way. I said that there was nothing wrong with wearing makeup when she’s older, but that girls and women nowadays were spending A LOT of money to look a particular way.

I said to her that when I was younger, I loved going through women’s magazines but that ‘back then’ the images were of the women as they were. Don’t get me wrong, we were being sold a particular image – thin, glamorous, in the latest looks…thin – BUT they were fairly real. No airbrushing…lots of make-up – but no airbrushing.

Throughout these modern times – since mid-last century – women have always been sold a look; in line with the fashion of the time. And we have always jumped on that wagon, hoping to mirror that look and belong. That’s cool. We are the fairer sex and we like to groom ourselves.

But it’s worse now.

Why? Because the looks and bodies we’re trying to mirror – are altered and unattainable ones.

Simple, isn’t it?

The logic of it is striking and obvious – and yet…

…here we are ladies – watching women on our screens, posters, ads – depicting the shangri-las of looks – that we can’t have because they are simply. not. real.

Question #85: Why is the unaltered image above, not considered beautiful?

Because there are some rolls…like the ones we all have? Because she has a tummy…like most women?

God forbid we represent the general female population in our media!

Now look at the women around you – your friends – your family.

Do you think they’re all ugly?

They must be if they’re not thin, ‘hot’ and sexy…with no wrinkles etc. etc. etc.

But the majority of women DO NOT fit that tiny mould and I’m also pretty sure that you don’t think any such thing about the women in your life. So, if we think the ordinary and remarkable women around us are beautiful:

Question #86: Why are we being passive and tolerate what the media is doing to the representation of women?

And we are being passive.

Just look at what’s been done to the images of the women below – for magazines that women buy:

Even Barbie – or any doll for that matter (Bratz, anyone?) – sells a look to girls from a young age.

It’s up to us to change this. Noone else can do it – certainly not men. That would be as futile as women changing men’s perspectives.

It’s up to us.

Deep Breath.

x

A hairy moment.

August 14, 2012

It’s time to get a little more light-hearted; time to have a bit of a giggle.

So here we go…Female Body Hair – mainly of the leg variety.

I am of South American background and have been a fairly, hairy human from when I can remember – well, my legs especially.

I recall the serious discussion with my mother and grandmother, looking up between them, as to whether I was old enough to shave or not. Being ‘too young’ at the start, I began my hair removal journey with creams. That smelly, stinky stuff – and this was around 1980 – you can only imagine how bad that stuff was back then.

I then graduated to razors and have pretty much had to stick to them ever since. Thirty long years.
But that is not from lack of trying every other affordable way. But to no avail.

The method I wished worked for me, is waxing. I have tried. Many times. But thanks to the substantial dose of exposure to the Aussie sun at the beach, coupled with natural genes, my leg skin has been rendered a tad leathery and has, in turn, made my legs a haven for in-grown hairs. No amount of exfoliation and cream to soften the skin, seem to do the trick when I wax. So it’s shaving or nothing.

The final downer? That if a shave in the morning, I can feel the buggers poking their heads through by late afternoon…OK, a slight exaggeration; but only slightly.

One night in Winter last year, I was shaving my legs in my teeny, awkward shower; balancing precariously on one leg – it’s such a pain. And I felt this pinprick of annoyance, wanting to shout, “Why do I have to do this?” …even though I was in my ‘down time’ of shaving.
(Winter affords me a lovely window where I can let the legs get a bit gorilla-like, as they’re always covered).

So when did this irritating and expensive habit begin?

An article entitled “Caucasian Female Body Hair and American Culture” by Christine Hope, says that:

…businesses began “encouraging” American women to shave their underarms around 1915, when sleeveless fashions became popular. Harper’s Bazaar featured an ad stating: “Summer Dress and Modern Dancing combine to make necessary the removal of objectionable hair.” Yet another revenue stream made possible by human insecurity.

The war against nature’s leg warmers came a bit later, as changes in clothing allowed women to display more than just an ankle. According to Hope, convincing women to shave their legs was more challenging, so advertisers pulled out all the stops. “Some advertisers as well as an increasing number of fashion and beauty writers harped on the idea that female leg hair was a curse.”

A curse? How absurd, right?
Anything to get women to buy…and they do. A recent report I read, claimed women in Australia spend $100, 000 on razors and $30, 000 on waxing – a year.
Insanity.

Secondly, in the big scheme of things – centuries actually – this leg hair removal business is a really recent event; only about 70 year. When I think about all the women in history, who were loved – adored – worshipped…they would have ALL had hairy legs, hairy pits…the works.

All. Of. Them.

Question #82: Isn’t it a shame that so many ‘beauty necessities’ for women, are SO unnecessarily entrenched?

It didn’t seem to bother the men (or the women) of the past.

So am I saying that I’m going to stop shaving my legs?
Hell NO!!
I’m too conditioned and so is the world around me; it’s not a good look with my dark, luscious South American hairs. I have to say, I always envied all my fairer Aussie girlfriends…with their invisible leg hair…

…but the main reason I brought this up, is the mere FRUSTRATION that it’s just another thing we have to spend money on to make ourselves conform to a very recent norm.

My 7 year old daughter recently asked me (with a perplexed expression) why I removed my leg hair and I told her that that’s the way I was brought up but that she doesn’t have to. It probably won’t work because I’m not modelling it – but who knows, if enough girls reject removing their body hair, then it could become the norm just as easily as this one did.

So on I go – with razor in hand…

…Oh, look! A photo of what my legs look like after a few days.
KIDDING! (sort of).

Deep Breath, girls!

x

Beauty is an attitude.

July 31, 2012

I found the following on Facebook and I think it’s simply fantastic:

We are the fairer sex. Yes.

And we should enjoy that…but at what price?

Recently I’ve listened to numerous female students feel down about their looks – thinking they’re not beautiful, which always leaves me feeling aghast because I can’t communicate the beauty I see. They think I’m ‘just saying that’. They also don’t know how to accept a compliment because they simply don’t believe it.

I feel a touch of despair for these girls because the feelings of inadequacy they have about themselves, only proves that the grip the false ideals of beauty has on them – has talons.

In a previous post, A response, I put a photo of me in my final year of high school, aged 17, with very alluring short hair. NOT! The year before this photo was taken – when my hair was a little shorter – my, Catholic, all-girls high school took my year group on a three-day camp, with an all-boys high school.

Now, I was your typical teen – someone who wanted to find a dreamy boyfriend, who would adore me forever…

But I didn’t fit the ‘mould’.

On the camp, I experienced two poignant moments – moments long forgotten, that have recently poked their heads out of my cavernous memory. Due to this resurfacing, I have shared the story with a few…so to those of you who have heard this one already, I ask you for your ever-appreciated patience with me repeating myself!

Moment 1. A group of us were walking up to the boys’ cabins, where you had to walk up a few steps to their long verandah. A boy was standing at the top of these steps saying, “Welcome” to every girl as she stepped up. When I got there he said, “You’re not welcome.”

That’s OK. I walked through anyway.

Moment 2. In a group session, we were asked what our first impressions were of each other. There was that awkward silence when everyone is shyly looking around or staring at their hands – when one guy, put his hand up, looking straight at the team leader and said, “I thought Paula was really weird because of her hair.”

I didn’t mind. It kind of felt good – no other girl got mentioned. And I knew I wasn’t weird.

Even though I lay my dream of finding my high school sweetheart at this camp to rest (and felt a little bummed), I knew they’d be another time that would present itself…

…and I ceratinly wasn’t going to start growing my hair long and disappear into the crowd – just because two boys weren’t into my look.

Still girls and boys trying to get one another’s attention – no different to today.

So, what IS the difference between then and now? Well, how about the saturation of EVERYTHING…’on tap’?

For women, there seem to be endless amounts of clothes, shoes, make-up, hair products – electrical and chemical, salon services, manicures, pedicures, facials, diet options, diet shakes, hair removal options (shave, wax, laser), Botox, machines that ‘dissolve’ cellulite, surgical procedures…and ALL THAT;

For basically one. general. look.

No wonder girls are in a whirlpool of self-loathing.

A recent report said that women in Australia spend $100, 000 on razors and $30, 000 on waxing – a year.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m one of the razor buyers (since my teens)…but when you look at numbers like that, doesn’t it seem ridiculous? That’s a lot of money.

Question #78: What price do you pay for ‘beauty’? Are you happy yet?

Don’t buy into it! Not through your mind OR your wallets.

Of course those on the receiving end of your spending, don’t want you to stop – so be the sensible, intelligent woman you are and know:

Beauty is an attitude.

It resonates.

By all means enhance – uniquely – do the best with what you’ve been blessed with.

YES – blessed! Don’t lose sight of the big picture.

You don’t need ‘fixing’…and as it says in the image above – you don’t owe it to anyone!

And the only thing you owe to yourself – is to love your unique ‘take’ on beauty.

Deep Breath.

x

A comment responding to my last blog post, talked about Norman Lindsay’s paintings. This got me thinking about how our perceptions of what is considered beautiful, when thinking about the female form, have changed over the centuries.

In the 17th Century, Peter Rubens was painting women and they were always a little large and hearty.

The following painting, The Three Graces, was painted around 1693:

I think a lot of women can identify with some of the features present in this painting – biggish bums, solid thighs, bumps, creases, folds and boobs that are a bit smaller than what’s happening in the under-carriage. I think Rubens was a ‘bum’ guy because you can see the women depicted in his paintings in much the same way.

Question #67: Is this the ‘natural’ form of a woman?

Maybe. In that day, I’m sure there were ‘fashions’ (as there always are), but I wonder if altering body shape was one of the goals – as it is obsessively today.

Here is a painting, Imperia, by Norman Lindsay. Norman was painting in the early 1900s (this one was 1920). I think he was definitely a ‘breast’ man:

If you have a look at his female subjects, they were very buxom indeed…but they were also big in the thigh area and around the tummy…plus there’s pubic hair. As I wrote in my response to Hannah, I think the waxed/Brazilian of the pubic area is a new, acquired taste…possibly connecting it to a look where women look pre-pubescent?

By looking at these two paintings, if you had either of these bodies – which a lot of women do – you would probably be unhappy with certain parts. Hell, if women have the ‘perfect’ body, they still find something to hate about it – hence all the ‘altering’ that goes on. (Read my last post – The beauty we aspire to, does not come naturally…or cheaply. Click here)

Were these women unhappy with their bodies? I wonder…

When I was in my early 20s (early 1990s) I remember there was a big story in Cosmopolitan about women’s bodies, that has stayed with me all these years later. Over a two page spread, they had photographs of the bodies, front and back, of about fifteen or so women. Their heads weren’t in the picture and they were completely nude with their hands held together in front of their pubic area.

The article wanted to know what women AND men felt was a beautiful female body. I remember my eyes gravitating towards this gorgeous, lean and ‘perfect’ body. She had longish legs, small waist and breasts that were just right – not too big and not too small. She looked like a size 10 (quite small here in Australia) and she had my vote.

The following month, the results were in. Out of the wonderful mix of body shapes and sizes, the women and men demonstrated a very definitive preference through their choices.

90% of women (yes, 90) voted the same body I had chosen, as the best. No surprises there! My older self feels disappointed with my younger-me…I was as predictable as the rest of the women…all chasing (and still chasing) one body weight and shape.

The men’s choice, however, was interesting. If memory serves about 86% (still a high number) picked the size 14 girl. She was in proportion BUT there were some serious curves…especially around the thigh, stomach and breast area.

Fascinating. I wonder if the guys of today would choose similarly?

To the young women of today, who are fighting their own battle to belong, feel at peace with themselves and (dare I say) find a way to be in love with their bodies, there’s not much of a mirror out there telling them that their bodies are ALL beautiful in their unique way.

I had a friend post a picture on Facebook of an overstretched and biggish stomach from having children. The image was trying in inspire women to love their untaut tummies due to the fact that they had made and grown a HUMAN BEING inside them – an absolute miracle…BUT most mums I know, don’t have that feeling of tenderness towards their stomachs – quite the opposite, in fact.

Question #68: Why do we do it to ourselves?

When I went to Google images of tummies, I predominantly got two images – a ‘hot’ flat stomach or a pregnant belly. (More hot than not!)

How sad that at the end of that pregnant belly, some women are left with a feeling of self-loathing towards what their body is left with. And when they turn for help, all they see is young, slim, taut and perky. C’mon.

TAKE ACTION!

The change happens within you and it CAN if you do the following (and it IS this simple):

Go to the mirror NOW and look at yourself through new eyes!! Woooo Hoooo!!

Deep Breath.

x

Beauty.

This is certainly a contentious issue – I mean, there’s that age-old, cliched question – what is beauty?

What I find interesting and incredibly frustrating is that in the current paradigm, we live in a society that rewards and reveres FAKE.

…and there’s NO way around it – in every single way, fake beauty is what we strive for.

WHAAAAT??

Studies show that we are a clever gender – I’m always pushing this point, actually – but in this massive DOOSEY of an issue, that dictates our gender’s life, we are simply stupid.

STUPID.

We do as we’re told by feeding into what media and popular culture dictate is beautiful and we exercise the self-hatred of our looks and bodies, like good little girls – something that industries perpetuate and thrive off .

How lovely that there are a few people out there who are living a disgustingly, greedy life – by sucking on the jugular vein of women’s insecurities like vampires.

But at the risk of sounding repetitive ladies, the vampire can’t suck as easily as he does without us running up and presenting our neck for feeding!

Am I victim of this? YES!! Of course I am. I feel MUCH better about myself (and subsequently started looking better) than I did than when I was younger, but in essence, I have been conditioned to feel this way, as generations of women have – but now it’s getting ugly…no pun intended! I simply wasn’t exposed to what girls are being besieged with today. But I bet I felt what they do now.

As I’ve also said before, I use makeup, I most certainly use a bra and I shave my legs and armpits. I like to wear nice clothes (when I can get out of the house! Haha!) and appear attractive.

But this is where things get complicated…what is attractive? What is beautiful?

Most importantly – to both men and women – what is the MEDIA telling you is beautiful?

Answer? ONE look – with all its fickle, attached connotations that go with that look. That is all.

There is NOTHING real out there, girls! ALL the images of women in magazines (as we all know) are airbrushed / altered / tweeked etc. etc. etc.

ALL.

Let’s take a look at the most ineffectual woman (and one of the richest) on the planet: Kim Kardashian – well she’s effectual for me to make this point, I suppose.

Although on one hand we’re told that ‘curves are great!’ etc. etc. Snore. Snore. – the images we’re presented with, are quite a different story.

Now, if we look at these images of Kim, we can see that she has been ‘shaved’ of her total ‘booty’/thigh area by quite a bit. All unsightly (cellulite) bumps quickly taken care of. TICK ! Yes, embrace your curves!!…just not that much…

Her ample bosom has also been ‘shaved’ on the side because we don’t want any of that ‘side-boob-hangin’-out-under-the-armpit’ crap – just bountiful, lifted, straight-out-the-front breasts. TICK!

Her skin has even been made lighter. TICK!

Now, this is the part that gets my goat:

Firstly – IF, by today’s definition, Kim encompasses everything that is beautiful – why does she need tweeking?

Secondly – Why is someone so fake even considered beautiful to start with?

The enigma to me is that we know she probably has some cellulite issues and we know that there are probably some rolls in there and…

what’s wrong with that?

It’s Kim the gimmick I have a problem with because if she were just any other girl with a normal amount of make-up on and regular clothes – we would probably ostracise her look. You know it’s true…and yet, to add insult to injury – the faker she is, the more we throw money at her.

So many women in the spotlight have succumbed to the pressure of having one look – plastic and fake – and why shouldn’t they? when a) they won’t get ‘hired’ – especially after they hit the “You don’t look so young anymore” ceiling AS WELL and b) the minions (us) keep shouting, “You are SO BEAUTIFUL” to them.

This is where I have to tell young girls (especially) to put their thinking caps on.

1. Media (in conjunction with big business – a marriage made in money) create female insecurity, by saying, “Look this way!” Period.

2. It’s then us women who fill in the blanks with…”or be ugly/die alone/ be a failure/be unlovable…” etc. etc.

Well it can end today ladies, with a simple shift of thought. Eleanor Roosevelt said:

 “Noone can make you feel inferior – without your consent.”

Without your consent.

Predominantly, you feel the way you do because it’s what’s been entrenched in your psyche – yes – but ultimately it’s your CHOICE.

We are in a Catch-22 situation that is VERY hard to get out of, in this day and age, because of the easiness of creating false images.

We then buy, buy and BUY into this mono-image that’s popular and in turn, feed the monster.

The men at the top say, “Hey! It’s what the ladies want.”

Question #66: Is it?

Yes, at this stage I think it is. We’re creating and driving it along.

We can either want and strive for the unattainable and EXPENSIVE-to-uphold, image or feel shit about ourselves. Well, we certainly don’t want to feel shit, so let’s see if we can buy ourselves out of feeling this way. And we certainly do try.

STUPID.

What you’ll pay on the Carbon Tax will pale in comparison to what you (may) already pay on attaining society’s perception of ‘beauty’.

Don’t hear much complaint to our government about how society is moulding our daughters to be hyper-sexualised, insecure consumers with an INSATIABLE appetite…

Deep Breath.

x

The Debutante Ball.

May 28, 2012

This is a quick post to tell you about my Saturday Night.

I was the Matron of Honour at my school’s Debutante Ball and it was a wonderful night! There were 18 girls and they were all from my year group (Yr 11), so it was really special.

I got my hair done for the first time in years and my sister gave me a divine dress to wear.

Now, I know that some may think that a Debutante Ball is archaic – considering that the young ladies are being ‘presented’ to society – but I tell you what, it was enchanting.

As each girl slowly walked down with her partner to greet the Guest of Honour, we were all treated with an account of how these girls want to make their mark in the world.

It filled me with delight to hear the girls’ dreams and goals – dressed in white, with long gloves and a sense of ballroom elegance.

That’s the word: elegant.

I was equally proud of the young men, the majority of whom are also from my year group, for the way they conducted themselves – as gentlemen.

The Guest of Honour, a successful solicitor (lawyer, if you’re American), spoke of her journey; from her school days, full of dreams and hopes, to today. How after life’s curve balls and three children later, she finally saw her dream come to fruition…after nine years of study. It was inspirational to hear a woman speak of the value of having dreams and the willingness to stick through hard times to realise them.

There was a small element to the night, however, that was a little disappointing. Although we were in a gorgeous abundance of gowns, black ties and formality – there were some girls in the audience, who were a tad under-dressed for the evening.

Question #48: What I’m wondering is, why are there girls who don’t know how to ‘dress for the occasion’?

But to all of those who dressed up to the nines – even if it was just for one special night – you all looked beautiful, elegant and RADIANT.

Now that’s what catches the eye of the right person.

Deep Breath

x

PS This is my hair from the back! Very spoilt.

Beautiful new icon

February 12, 2012

Hey gorgeous girls *grinning*

I have a new image for this blog, that I think reflects how I see it all:

It’s mother-earthy; it’s peaceful; it’s all women and it’s simply beautiful. It’s called ‘Hope II’ and the artist is Gustav Klimt.

I recently got a notebook, where I now jot down any ideas and observations I have for this blog. I bought it in a quirky shop in Katoomba, The Blue Mountains.

The cover is a Klimt painting – the image is of two faces – a mother holding her nestling child; both breathing each other in.

I was drawn to it because, not only is it stunning, the child looks like my eldest girl when she was a baby (lots of dark hair when she was born) AND my youngest, because she’s fair and looks like the cover babe when she sleeps.

I love it.

I first learned about Klimt (and his gold paint) through my sister, an amazing artist herself, because one of her favourite paintings was always, ‘The Kiss’.

I was busting to know the name of the painting on my beautiful notebook…and there I made a very poignant discovery. The image of my slumbering mother and babe were only part of a bigger picture – a painting called, ‘The Three Stages of Woman’.

How poignant indeed.

Look at the image of the third stage? Next to the vibrance of the first two stages, what a depressing and bleak view of the old woman – something that appears sadly inevitable and unavoidable – and also encapsulates what we women seem to feel about getting older.

Klimt captured this perception in 1905 – what was he seeing? Better question is:

Question #13: Is this painting a representation of how men see us when we’re old or is it how we see ourselves?

1905.