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

Some funny self reflection…

February 17, 2012

I want you to come on a small journey and see some of the ‘demons’ I face with my appearance – being a woman.

Sometimes when I’m on the phone, I have to escape the kids and hide away in my bedroom – to be able to have a conversation in peace –“Muuuuumm”. Many times, I catch sight of myself in my bedroom mirror, and when the lighting is juuust right…I see a crone.  Yep, a crone. *recoil and scrunch up face – stop it, that’s more lines!*

When did I get so old? Let’s see what other things I see…

Now, I have good legs – but what’s that droopy sort of skin above each knee that seems to want to start heading south all of a sudden? Is there any such thing as a knee lift? *smirk* I would never get one – but was actually wondering…

I’ve had humans exit my body – as most women I know have – and we all have to carry around that lovely added extra around the stomach. Like growing said human and have it come out, wasn’t ‘reward’ enough! And who can forget that charming phrase “muffin top”, that seemed to be a regular word tossed around at Mothers’ Group. Are guys refered to as having muffin tops?

Nine months to put on, nine months to take off, ladies!” Jeez, the pressure! I always felt a secret resentment of any article that pointed out how quickly a star took off the baby weight, 10 minutes after giving birth, stating the marvels of breast feeding. What-EVA! She who has a personal trainer and chef at their disposal. My first baby sucked my milk like a crazy person and it actually made me eat MORE, than when I was actually pregnant…couldn’t help it…my body thought I was still eating for two. I felt jipped.

There’s the little flap of skin that’s appeared under my chin. Has anyone else got that? How quickly is that one going to progress? I don’t want to look like turkey anytime soon, thank you very much…and yet – there it is.

Boobs. What can I say. I remember watching the series, ‘Mad About You’ (loved that show) and there was this great sequence of scenes, when the lead character, Jamie, was in labour. All the women in her life were sitting in her hospital room with her, as her husband wasn’t there yet. They were giving out advice when the issue of breasts came up. Her mother said to her, “You’ll be fuller breasted, dear.” She nods. Her sister-in-law then states factually, “Yes, but eventually they look like a couple of empty gym socks.” Hahaha! Classic. Well, I won’t say mine are a couple of empty gym socks just yet, but they do like to look at my feet more often – when ‘unassisted’. *wink*

Finally, my hair. I’ve had long hair my whole adult life, but an accident at the hairdressers saw that change a few months ago. I went in for a trim with a few long layers. What actually happened was my hair ended up being hacked with a plethora of instruments, including a razor, and ended up looking like Carol Brady with a mullet. So bad. The only solution was to cut off the mullet – and ended up with short hair. I don’t mind it BUT I didn’t want to look like a woman who had made that, “Oh, I’m over forty now, so I better cut a mummy haircut”, decision. Plus it looks the same every day. I miss my ponytail. But then, everyone has long hair. Do I grow it?

So here’s my comparison with guys – I’m pretty sure they don’t agonise over their appearance as much as we do, because we love them anyway. They can put on weight, lose their hair, get very wrinkley – it’s the common image in the media – men can look however they like and will always be accepted.

And our guys love us too, when we start to get out of shape and grow older – don’t they? I guess that on the whole they do, BUT I know of a few stories within my circle of friends where the male partner has left, for a younger woman. If I know a few – surely you know a few. Therefore, is it more common than we think? Can we say the same of women who leave their men for younger versions? Probably not. I think that, even though I can look good for my age – a younger guy would see the middle-aged oldie I really am.

Hey, that’s OK – I don’t need that validation from younger men – as I’m sure you don’t either (only women in the public eye seem to be butchering themselves to look ‘younger’) – but what is it with us?

Question #16: Why are women SO obsessed with looking younger? Can’t we just reward each other for looking the best we can for our age?

If there is a group of women who have been wrapped up in plastic packaging, sold to the world and subsequently gained unfathomable wealth – it’s the Kardashians.

I find it infuriating and a complete enigma, that these women are given a pedestal in our society for being ‘savvy business women’, but who are in fact being rewarded for their uselessness.

On a recent report, when Kim and one of the other coat-tail sisters came to Sydney, it claimed that the Kardashians made 70 million dollars the previous year. 70.million.dollars.

How is this possible? What is it they contribute to society to justify such wealth?
Let’s see…

# 1: Kim became ‘famous’ from a sex tape, which was conveniently leaked just before the start of their first season of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians.’

#2: As the family demonstrate nothing but their insatiable appetite for money and fame – we respond by giving it to them.

#3: Now they slap a label on and sell everything, including themselves. The same report claimed Kim asks for $150,000 an hour to make an appearance at an event.

With all that money, they can only swim laps in their greed  – a greed on such a grand scale, that we seem (as a society) to admire it and reward it.

Isn’t Greed one of the Seven Deadly Sins?

The worst part is that rather than have some substantially significant impact on the world with that wealth, they just spend it all on their gross vanity – clothes, cars, a nip and a tuck –  only further pushing young girls to revere a falsehood.

Here’s a picture of Kim crying…

In my Drama class yesterday, we were talking about how hard it is to laugh and cry convincingly when acting. When we were dissecting what makes a good cry, we agreed that there’s one common denominator – you look ugly….really ugly. That’s what a cry is. The image above shows a frozen face. Cover the mouth – she could be expressing ANY other emotion – because that top part ain’t moving.

What are these women, predominantly Kim, teaching to our girls?

This is where I’m stumped.

When the two sisters came to Sydney, the news reports showed gaggles, flocks, SCORES of young women and girls, going to shriek greet them. It was like the Beatles were in town.
Seriously.

On two separate news reports, hysterical (I kid you not) girls were asked what they loved about Kim. They both responded with equally breathless, squeals of, “She’s…SO BEAUTIFUL!!” When asked what else they liked, the reporters should have run the audio of the crickets chirping in the background because they had no other answer. None. One girl kept looking around, trying to think of something inspirational to say – probably hoping someone would feed her the answer…any answer.

Zip.

So there you have it – she’s beautiful. Fake beautiful. 70 million dollars.

Now we can feel relieved to know that our girls will now know exactly what they need to do – what to aspire to – to make money. And it all starts with selling themselves; selling themselves short.

Forget educating our girls – giving them a mind to make change – it’s all for nothing if all that’s important (regardless of what she’s achieved) is how she looks; sexy, hot and fake.

And that’s the message saturating our children’s world.

Boys used to have to sneak a magazine (that would have possibly been a little difficult to get), to see a bit of boob – now both boys and girls can simply to go to the shops because now we’re selling jeans like this:

Thanks girls. You look hot. I hope you got the validation you were looking for.

Question #9: Have these sorts of women become our girls’ new role models?

A few months ago, I was on school holidays and flicking through some daytime TV. I happened to land on the ABC and saw Gail Dines doing a presentation to what looked like some MPs or equivalent.

She was showing how women are now, more commonly, being repreaented. Nothing really surprising. Then she made the following – what I thought was an ‘a-ha’ – point:

She was showing an image of a woman on the cover of Sports Illustrated looking….well you can imagine – and she said, “We all know what she (the woman on the cover) is trying to communicate, don’t we? The ‘Fuck me’ look.” Yep, that’s it.

She said that when she discusses the topic with senior high school students, they come up with the same – no mystery there. She then asks the students if any of them can get up and demonstrate the look. Of course, there are always girls who volunteer.

However, when she asks a boy to do it, she gets a different demonstration – because when a guy does the ‘Fuck me’ look, everyone, including himself, start to laugh. Why? Because it looks silly – as Gail explains, guy can’t do the ‘Fuck me’ look – he does the ‘Fuck you’ look.

Yes.

Yes.

Think about the common way in which our young adults, teens and now children are being depicted. Isn’t what she’s saying right?

I feel like, if we boil it all down, the simple message is that a female is nothing unless she’s seen as ‘Fuckable.’

This is the moment I need to interject my own argument – to make sure we’re on the same page (or not).

I don’t have a problem with a woman being sexual – we are sexual beings. I believe a woman – every woman – has it in her to be attractive + confident and intelligent. But in this ever stifling pop culture, where can our sons and daughters see this modelled?

Again, I’m talking about BALANCE – something I’ll keep referring to because it’s not so much what’s out there (to a degree it’s always been ‘out there’), but where’s the yin to complement the yang?

I don’t know if you watch regular TV, (I don’t have cable – just the free-to-air stuff), but The Good Wife ad has caught my attention. It saddens me that – beside the fact that some of the main female stars look like they’ve gone under the knife a few times – it seems nearly irrelevant that the ‘good’ wife is a lawyer. The WHOLE ad campaign leading up to the new season has her main photo in lingerie, there’s a sexy shot of her on a bed, with raunchy music playing throughout, and the slogan, “Don’t let the name fool you” – obviously…because she’s a naughty, naughty girl.

Now she’s fuckable. Well, that’s a relief!

Here are some promo shots from the show. Here is Julianna showing how her character NOW has strength and won’t be a door mat. What, by performing sexual favours?

Another female character, ironically also speaks about being a ‘badass’…in her over-the-knee leather boots, short mini leather skirt and VERY tight shirt.

The MEN however….Same job and yet, there’s a tired weariness in that first shot – hard day at work ending with a well deserved whiskey – plus the fact they’re all fully dressed in the suits they would actually wear to work.

Why are the women not wearing what they would actually wear to the office in these shots??

Should our daughters watch it and get inspired because she’s also a lawyer? Maybe. But there doesn’t seem to be a hell of a lot of choice – after all, there’s also stupid and fuckable.

The saturation of this simple, subliminal, messaging in popular media means that we are ALL being subjected to it – regardless of age. After all, my interest in discussing this show ONLY came from one ad campaign. As we go on with our lives, in the background there is an incessant drone, telling us over and over again, through these representations, that a woman’s worth is whether she’s ‘Fuckable’ and a man learns that this is what he has to look out for. This is incredibly limiting. 

Question #8: Do you think that it’s OK for women to be portrayed in this manner?

If you hadn’t noticed, start paying attention to the limited blueprints that are being delivered to you about women and girls, and how the same message wallpapers us in outdoor advertising and narratives. 

Nothing can change unless we wake up as a society and stop consuming what we’re given without critical reflection. 

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*