IN THIS ISSUE:
Beauty on Your Own TermsBy Mari Lyles
Somewhere, right now, multitudes of women are attending seminars urging them to think differently about themselves, live their best lives, believe in themselves and grow.
And no matter how wonderfully uplifting these seminars may be, they are outmatched, out-ranked and out-gunned by the thousands of media ads daily streaming on television, radio, billboards and the internet debunking every joyful thing the seminar speaker states about how fantastic women are.
These ads focus on the number one thing guaranteed to grab a woman's attention; their body and appearance. And they tell women:
"No, you're not beautiful... you're a hot mess... you're overweight..."
To prove their point, these ads display gorgeous, thin women with beautiful smiles and long, flowing tresses, or exceptionally curvy women with long tresses, all prancing around in skimpy clothes or nearly nothing. Their lips are plump, their lashes are full and their teeth are shiny and pearly white. Our lips are cracked, our lashes are falling out and our teeth are coffee-stained. No, we are not beautiful, we suck.
We can't hide from the prevalence of the messages; they're invasive and program our psyches consciously and unconsciously any time of the day or night. Because they are so prevalent and forceful we endure face lifts, breast lifts, tummy tucks, lip injections, liposuction and Botox, while redesigning noses, eye-lids, cheekbones, skin color and more. We fear age and stave off its progression all because the Beauty Gods have determined natural aging, with its accompanying crows-feet, wrinkles and jowls, has no place in today's youth-oriented society.
Consequently, a number of Asian women succumb to blepharoplasty, eyelid surgery, to have their eyes "Westernized," while a number of African-American women convince themselves that classic beauty lies in a bottle of bleaching cream or a long, luxurious weave cascading down their backs. Hispanic women may undergo injections to have the well rounded derriere of video-vixens. Our Middle-Eastern sisters, meanwhile, seek appeasement of the Beauty Gods by undergoing rhinoplasty, hoping to eliminate perceived pronounced noses and to better "blend," while Caucasian women opt for fuller, plumper lips and tans deep enough and brown enough to have themselves mistaken for women of other cultures.
From our heads to our toes, a woman's beauty (or lack thereof) is scrutinized and dissected and laid under a public microscope for the world to judge, all at the expense of a woman's self-esteem. And, just as women have accepted the industry's definition of beauty, men have cosigned it, fully on-board with the media's ideal image of "hot" women. Many women, fully cognizant of whom men notice and fearful of being ignored, do their best, whatever it takes, to be one of the chosen.
We find ourselves left with a multitude of women who are afraid to accept the beauty they alone possess, preferring to trade it in for something the media has concocted. To any lady wrestling with questions regarding your looks, I have the following:
Try Beauty on Your Own Terms
Only you and you alone can be the arbiter of your beauty. That decision, along with any indecisiveness lies solely in your hands. For whom are you judging your appearance? Ask yourself, who are your trying to please or impress? If it's anyone other than yourself, step back and ask why?
Beauty changes. Beauty is a variant depending upon culture, location and ethnicity. What's beautiful in South Korea is not necessarily beautiful in South Africa. One year, blondes are in, the next brunettes. There was a time when thin lips were considered exceptionally beautiful. Now, full, pouty lips are in vogue. During the Renaissance, voluptuous women were in while thin women were totally out. In those days, being thin equated with being poor. Once upon a time, tans were considered gauche, too indicative of the working class. Now, however, tanning salons and/or sprays are a mainstay in our country.
Be the Best You
You own the skin you're in, so make the most of it. Find out what's most becoming to you and let your intuition lead you to rock your very own style. It's really not about how you look, but how you rock how you look -- like you're the baddest, flyest woman in the room. You'll catch fire with the right attitude.
Be Beautiful From the Inside Out
There is beauty in serenity and peace. You can look like Angelina Jolie or Halle Berry, but if you have a troubled, anxious, angry spirit, no amount of makeup can hide what comes bubbling up. Seek your inner peace; you'd be surprised how attractive it is.
I'm not condemning beauty; heck, the majority of us would trade average looks with those of drop-dead gorgeous movie stars in a minute. I'm simply stating that our beauty lies completely in our own hands, it should not be controlled by anyone other than ourselves. We have the remarkable ability to design and redesign ourselves at any given moment. Our looks respond to whatever name we give them and choose to walk in.
I will never be considered a classic beauty by the media's definition. But I'll always be "uniquely" beautiful because I've declared myself to be. I've met my own standards and they're good enough for me. I love my looks, and quite frankly, I could care less if it matters to anyone else. It took me many long, hard years to reach that place of confidence, where I owned my looks, despite irregular features, a scar across my face, eyes that bulge ever so slightly and a nose considered too wide by some. But my own concept of beauty allows me to be as beautiful as I want to be, and I've noticed that the world responds on my terms.
Copyright © 2014 by Mari Lyles. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.
Mari has blogged for D.C. Examiner.com, Pathjoy.com, Task.fm.com, Yourtango.com and HopeAfterDivorce.com, and now blogs for The Huffington Post. Her most recent project is founding Project Excellence, LLC, dedicated to rebuilding the lives of unemployed and/or low-income urban women and preparing them for entry into the job market.
For more information, visit: www.mybeautifulrelationship.com/
How can I recover after having a tantrum on Facebook?
I have been dating my boyfriend for 4 years. We had a serious fight and as a tantrum I erased our relationship status from Facebook. I regretted erasing it and changed the status back to us dating, but all his friends saw it and started making a big deal about it. It made things worse and blew the whole thing out of proportion. He won't return my calls, or texts now. How can I solve it? I wish I could go back in time and changes things, but I can't. I feel embarrassed with his friends. How can I make it better?
~ Daniela from Kansas City, MO.
Marian responds ...
I gather that you've sincerely apologized to your boyfriend. However, he may feel angry, embarrassed, hurt and betrayed that your personal issues got aired out so publicly. He has a right to his feelings and to some space to work through what happened. By not immediately responding, he is letting you know very powerfully that your behavior was not acceptable to him, and that's a good thing.
Although this experience is very upsetting for you, you've also learned something valuable-that allowing intense emotions to drive your behaviour can backfire. When our emotions are intense, we simply aren't able to think effectively. The old saying "count to ten" before you do anything is wise.
I suspect that your boyfriend is giving himself time to cool off before he responds to you. I recommend you give him some space then perhaps write him a letter. If he refuses to respond to you, then it's likely that he is incapable of forgiving you. If so, then I believe you are better off without him, because a key ingredient in relationships is the ability to forgive one another. Regardless of the outcome, itís essential that you forgive yourself. All the best!
Marian Meade | www.marriagemindedcoaching.com
Barbara responds ...
Not sure what you mean by "serious" fight and all it entailed. Did it warrant your response? Maybe; maybe not, especially since you now have regrets. Does it warrant his? We can all learn lessons from hindsight after looking back over the situation; so maybe looking at the lessons you can learn would be helpful. That said, going forward, lessons to take into consideration could be:
1. Think before you act, because you can never take it back once it's out there.
2. Emotions aside, now would be a good time to evaluate the relationship; give it an overall grade and determine what you would like to do next.
3. If nothing about this relationship changed, are you willing to remain in it as it is right now for another four years? Hmmm. What does that tell you? Listen. Honor your truth, whatever that might be; and respect his as well.
4. Remember, for every action, thereís always an equivalent reaction.
Let your response to these comments and questions settle before rushing to the first conclusion, and then ask your question again; only you get to be the one to answer it. How can you make it better?
Barbara Ann Williams | www.barbaraannwilliams.com
Anita responds ...
Losing face time with boyfriend over a Facebook status faux pas, eh?
Social media seems to be the brunt of so many disconnections and misconceptions, and since what you have with your boyfriend is more human than the cyberway, you'll fare better to focus more on the human connection, and leave the electronics aside.
Whatever the reason you both fought prior to the "tantrum" is key to address and take accountability. The tantrum status change is like punching a hole in the Facebook wall - it hurts you more than the wall, but in the end, it's just a wall. You both have to hold each other's hearts through the disagreements and recognize what each of you need for your relationship to survive. And, if you have had a primarily healthy relationship for four years, you both can do this.
Respect the time he might need to cool off. Give him the oxygen needed for maybe a few days, then invite him into your sincere apology. Not by email. Not by text. Definitely not by Facebook. Let it be through your voice. Via phone or in person. Consistency in kindness breeds positive change.
As Lenny Kravitz sang, "Let love rule."
Anita Myers | www.innerscopeconsulting.com
Daniel responds ...
I understand how you feel.
Sometimes, when we are in the heat of the moment, we can do crazy things. One of two things will happen with your boyfriend. Either he will let go of the charge he has around the situation and be available to talk, or he may shut you out and move on.
If he is ready to talk, this is your chance to come clean and apologize for what you did. I suggest that you share your truth and let him know what upset you in the first place. If you come across as owning your feelings and being responsible, you give him the chance to understand you with the possibility to make amends.
This next suggestion takes some courage and yet it can be cut-through: make a public apology to your boyfriend and his friends on Facebook. The upset started there, it can end there.
If he doesn't respond after you've given your best, then it always comes back to making peace within. You have the choice to let it go.
Daniel Leonardi | www.loveunlimitedcoaching.com
This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your question here www.relationshipcoach.org/ask-the-coach and it will be forwarded to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.
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