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

As I previously mentioned, yesterday was my wedding anniversary – 11 years. Hubby and I decided to have a night in the city, staying overnight in a hotel – possible, thanks to my mum, the overnight babysitter. *very grateful*

After we had dinner in our favourite Spanish restaurant in Liverpool Street, we decided to walk down George Street down to a popular nightclub for a boogie, whilst checking out the city streets of Sydney.

Well, that one kilometre (two-thirds of a mile) walk – as well as inside the nightclub – was certainly an eye-opener. I know that I’ve discussed this at length with you all before, but there’s nothing like seeing things for yourself…it’s quite depressing…

Just about every girl – I would say about 75% – looked EXACTLY the same. I reeeally wanted to take photos of them – but didn’t, so as to respect the girls’ privacy. Ironic, isn’t it? That I care more about respecting them, than they do for themselves…

So I just got on the Net and looked up ‘going-out clothes’ to get an image. The army / flock / plethora of girls I saw everywhere – looked something like this:

(Classic, that this first image uses the word ‘Unique’…)

It was wave after wave of short, short dresses – platform heels of varying colours and height (from high to ridiculously high) – fake tans and boobs out.

I saw many girls struggling to walk in their shoes – but hey, I know that we’ve always had to battle that. These platforms, however, (that we used to refer as pole-dancers’ shoes) are something else.

The thing that saddened me, was seeing the many girls who simply looked awkward – constantly pulling down the dresses that were just barely covering their underpants – the ones who are wearing what they’re supposed to, because all their friends are wearing the same.

As I was walking with my husband, a hetero-male in a sea of ‘easy’, I said to him – “If you were a young man, you’d have countless women to pick from. Who would you pick? (this was a rhetorical question, of course *wink*)

So it’s girls upon girls, groups upon groups – all sending the exact same message – “PICK ME!! PICK ME!! Because I’ll show you the best time.” If that’s not the message, what is it? Actually, it’s irrelevant what girls think it means because that’s the only message the guys are receiving – crystal clear.

The funny thing is that both Hubby and I noticed that it didn’t seem to really matter what the guy looked like – we saw daggy guys, short guys, metero-sexuals etc.etc. – basically a lovely collection of them …with the same type of girl described above… How lucky guys are, to have next to zero pressure about what to wear out – in complete and total comfort – jeans/pants; shirt/t-shirt; flat shoes.

Question #34: Why is this look so important for these young women? Don’t they want to be unique?

I’d looove to hear from anyone who can answer this. No judgement – just a conversation.

The thing is that I’m sure most of these girls go home without having been ‘chosen.’ What then?

WHAT THEN? Little less clothing next time?

So sad and YES…I believe women have gone backwards with the current youth culture. How do we help them?

To tie with the last few posts – I believe EVERYONE on this planet is deserving of wonderful and loving partnerships – if that’s what they want. But when it comes to these young women; until they have the strength and courage to step out and be completely themselves – how is a well-matched guy going to ‘see’ them through the fake clutter?

Deep Breath.

x

PS It’s back to teaching young minds tomorrow *wink*, so the posts might come a teeny less often – even though I wish I could write every day!

Love to you all. *big smile*

A week or so ago, on the show The Project, they were discussing Pink Ghettos – places in the workforce where there are predominantly women (like Public Relations).

Firstly it addressed how it’s not good to have either sex feature predominantly in the workforce and secondly, it was looking at how it’s necessary for women to have good Maternity Leave – as it can mean the death of their careers, having to leave their job to care for the children. The irony was that the discussion was between a Joe Hockey (male politician) and Natasha Stott Despoja (former leader of the Democrats; and an awesome woman) – where HE was actually arguing that he knew what women wanted, more than the female, former leader of a party, with children sitting before him. I thought that was incredibly patronising. However, it generally seems that way; hardly the bat of an eyelid at the fact that a man is making the calls on what’s good for women.

The part that really had me gobsmacked, was that when Natasha was asked whether she had ever heard of Pink Ghettos, she said, “No, but Canberra is a pretty much a Blue Ghetto, with the amount of men that are there,” to which Joe Hockey replied, “I wish it were all blue.”

Yep. I bet you do, Joe.

Around the world, the average of women in parliament in 2007 was 18.3%* (couldn’t find anything more current – would love to know the figures today) and although the stats were a little better in Australia, it got me wondering WHY women are simply not up there at the top; in equal numbers to men – after all there’s a teeny bit more women than men worldwide.

Could it be that our girls have few aspirations to go for leadership roles (in many different areas) because it’s simply not modelled for them?

So, I thought I’d ask girls at my school, of different ages, who they look up to; who is an inspirational role model in their lives.

The first reaction was always the same – a long silence, looking up; trying to conjure up the faces of all the women out there who have impacted their lives.

One of the questions I was asked was, “Does it have to be a woman?” I gave her a cheeky ‘did-you-just-ask-me-that?’ look, as I didn’t know whether she was pulling my leg. She wasn’t. At the same time, what a telling question it was.

Even after I nudged them along with possibilities like singers, writers or personalities on TV…. a big portion of them said their mothers.

How wonderful. Or is it?
Hear me out.

I am a mother. I have ALWAYS wanted to be a mum, since I can remember. I was quite young when I kept asking my mum questions about marriage and whether she minded if I got married a little bit earlier than she did. She was 24. I was Suzie Home Maker. My best friend and I used to actually talk about the days where we’d be in our own home, married and ironing our husband’s shirts. PALEEASE!

Now, although I went to uni and ticked all the boxes – my ultimate goal was to get married and have kids. And I did.

I was blessed with two, very strong, daughters who drive me insane – you know what I mean – but whom I believe I was destined to have.
As much as I know they will ultimately respect me as a mother – is it all I want for them?

Question #24: Is motherhood the only way we can model strong women?

I asked the students if they felt there were any unfair things their mothers might go through, because they’re women and there was a strong chorus of, “YEAH!”

Through our following discussion, it seemed clear that, besides their mothers, there really wasn’t much out there to inspire girls – and if there are great women out there (which of course there are) – why aren’t we seeing them as much as the plastic, doll-like versions of our sex?

Why is there such a dim spotlight being shone on intelligent and inspirational women?

All is not lost, though. One of my older students said Gail Simone was an inspiration to her. I don’t know about you, but I said, “Who?” When I looked her up, I saw that she is great – a graphic novel writer. Amongst other suggestions, a popular choice was the singer Adele. When I asked how Adele inspired them, they just LOVED that she truly is all about the music – not about making a caricature of herself.

A gorgeous, gifted woman – what. a. voice!

We HAVE to get more of a spectrum of strong, intelligent women to be visible.

 

*http://www.humanrightsconsultation.gov.au/www/nhrcc/submissions.nsf/list/2AD5C6EC448A8B84CA25761500232FA5/$file/Stevie%20Martin_AGWW-7SHV8P.pdf

A scary photo.

January 23, 2012

I feel a tiny sense of betrayal…

I saw this image today and thought, “What has Olivia done to herself?”

An important question because she looks disfigured and plastic – and she was a naturally, stunning woman before she started to be unhappy with what she saw.

So now she looks like this.

Does anyone else see a bit of Jack Nicholson’s The Joker in that smile? This is not where I feel a sense of betrayal – I just feel sad for her.

“What? Sad? But, she looks FAB-u-lous!”, some women might say. “Why not? If it makes her happy.”

Well, I agree. If it isn’t hurting anyone ‘Live and let live’ ….but….maybe it is hurting someone.

So this is what BAFFLES me and where the sense of betrayal comes into the picture;

Question # 5: Why are we rewarding our fellow women for LOOKING unnatural?

Why are they flattered on TV by hosts? About how great and beautiful they are, when it’s OBVIOUS that they’ve had ‘something done’….and look weird.

I don’t get why they would want to fashion their looks around the same ‘doll-like’ look. Again, no sense of being unique.

Are we really saying, “Good.On.You.” to women who have the money to demonstrate, to us all, how they feel about their inadequacies in the public eye?

Well yes, it seems we are – because we look up to them, make them richer for it AND start our path modelling ourselves on them – along with their feelings of inadequacy. This is because, in essence, it’s an unattainable image, so we feel bad about ourselves. And now that women’s images are ALSO altered on a computer – what hope in hell do our young girls have, in attaining a healthy self-image? (Click on the link below for more on this)

I’ll repeat the title from the previous post: “You can’t be what you can’t see” – and what our women, of all ages, are seeing nearly everywhere, is FAKE.

I feel like there’s only one clear message – “Girls, you TOO can be a success – but only if you look like this.”

Surely we should be saying, “Wow”, to naturally attractive, sexy, older women and plastering their image all over the place. Helen Mirren, anyone?

If you watched the trailer in my previous post, you would have seen that “Women hold only 3% of clout positions in telecommunications, entertainment, publishing and advertising.”

That means that this look and many others we don’t like, are ultimately being decided upon by men.

FACT. Not male-bashing, just a fact.

So, what are we to do?

* Teach our young (and older) women that:

If she truly believes she’s beautiful, she will RADIATE that everywhere she goes – I mean, look at the alternative – those women in the public eye showing the exact opposite. And do they think they’re beautiful? Probably not. They would always find flaws; something to fix.

* We also need to teach our young (and older) MEN that:

There are more wonderful facets to a woman, than the way she looks – despite what the media is showing them.

I’ll leave you with a You Tube posting that needs to be shown to as many young women as possible! It’s great.

On a personal note:

It’s back to full-time work, for me, tomorrow. I’m back to the preparing and professional development stage of school – before the kids start next week. I’m so new to blogging, I don’t know if I’m doing it right. My goal is to write a few times a week – but I’m not sure how that’s going to go when I’m in the full swing of high school teaching, caring for my family, chores, sleep etc. etc……but one thing’s for sure – I wish I could just do this all the time. *smiling*

Guess who’s back!

January 21, 2012

This is a catch phrase of my husband’s, when he enters a room the girls and I are in. Makes me smile.

Anyhoo, I’ve been on a small beach holiday with my hubby and two girls (9 and 5)….and no internet connection! I’ve been itching to write but there’s SO much to say and (hoping to)  discuss with you all. It’s a bit daunting, actually. Where to start….

I could start with what I saw on my holiday; where a lot of my impressions about how things are, were reinforced.

What is it with the MAJORITY of girls wearing their ‘summer uniform’ these holidays? You know – shorter than short, shorts; singlet top with visible bra; sandals/havaianas. (Or the classic short shorts with ugg boots, bungalow bunny look….in summer….hmm). I haven’t got a problem with shorts, OR a visible bra, OR sandals/havaianas (I have both) – I do, however, have two problems with this outfit:

Firstly – IT’S A UNIFORM!! At my high school, many female (and male) students take up arms on the uniform front and verbalise that stale argument, “It’s just clothing, it won’t affect my learning” – and then go home, get changed and look, pretty much, like most other girls. (Boys do this too – but the way they dress is for a later discussion).

The irony of this kills me. They look like clones. To coin another phrase in the same blog – my good friend Lily recently went to a formalish party and commented on the ‘cookie cutter’ outfits – spray tans, short dresses, visible bust, platform shoes – does anyone else see Bratz Dolls?

No sense of individuality or of being unique – one in a million.

Secondly – The amount of girls using this outfit to express a tone of sexual availability, is not only on the increase, but being expressed by girls who are younger every time I look.

I passed a group of five women in the supermarket this week. The first two were girls in their early teens, looking particularly spicy in their ‘uniform’; flicking hair, chewing gum and showing big, doughy eyes behind heavy eye make-up. The next two were girls aged about seven or eight. They took my breath away a little, because they were as equally decked out but with no obvious make-up…..still…..as I continued on, a bit wide-eyed at the young ones, I look up to see the fifth woman – the mother. She may have been the mother to one or all four – but they were all a feast of visual candy.

And we’re supposed to look, right? Isn’t that the point?

Last year on Australia Day, in a similar beach town, I saw a teenaged girl – she looked about 18 – wearing a bikini top with short denim shorts. The zipper was half undone and on her stomach she had drawn an arrow pointing down to her crotch with the word, ‘Heaven’.

WHY???

But it’s not just at the beach. On a recent train trip to the city with my daughters, a loud, mid-teen girl sat in front of us. She was swearing and speaking quite loudly, which made you look at her. What did we see? She was basically wearing a bra, a cup size too small as she was spilling over, with a tight singlet top that covered a bit of the bottom of said bra.

WHY???

I mean, you have to understand that I’m not a prude – I’m not offended or going *tsk, tsk, tsk* – but I do truly wonder why SO MANY of these young girls are sending out such a strong (and dare I say, possibly dangerous) message, through their ‘choice’ of outfit. Has the term ‘self respect’ disappeared from these girls’ vocabulary?

So I’m wondering:

Question #4: Where’s the guidance?