Knowing when something needs to be said
I’ve been mulling over posting about this for a couple of weeks, but after careful consideration, believe it needs to be said.
A couple of weeks ago, a member of the dance community decided I needed some beauty advice and proceeded to offer it, though I’d never asked for it, nor realized I needed her help.
But a little background, first. When I go dancing, I wear shorts for a couple of reasons. Aside from the obvious fact that it’s cooler, I’ve yet to feel comfortable or attractive in my extensive collection of skirts as the weight I’ve lost so far has yet to retreat from my midsection. Thus, a skirt tends to make me look like a barrel. I just don’t feel the shape is flattering or attractive.
Beware the well-meaning who offer unasked for advice
All women have areas of their body they like and some they don’t. Even the ones we look at and find beautiful. Trust me on this. There’s something about themselves they’d like to change. But at the same time, we all have something we just know in our hearts is fine or even perfect the way it is. It might be eyes, or hair, length of our torso or our profile. For me, thanks to having danced most of my life, it’s my legs. Even when I was carrying enough weight to be considered obese, my legs weren’t half bad.
Unfortunately for the self-professed beauty consultant, that’s the area she chose as needing improvement, or, in her opinion covering up. Her first attempt was to encase them in a pair of baggy black pants. She even added a wide belt to my afore-mentioned broad mid-section; a real fashion faux pas on one as short-waisted as I.
It wasn’t enough that I told her the pants and belt were a bad idea. She had to approach me a few days later to tell me how much better I’d look in a pair of cheap tights like the ones she was wearing. I tried to tell her, somewhat politely that I wasn’t interested in her help. She demanded an explanation to which I replied “all you need to know is that I’m not interested.” But she was as persistent as a fly at a picnic.
When I continued to refuse her an explanation, she stomped off in disgust, hurling back in a voice loud enough to drown out the music, “if you realized how awful your legs look! I’m a beauty consultant!”
Women supporting women; more important now than ever
Which leads me to the reason I feel the need to write this post. Many people and companies have been working overtime to help women feel better about themselves and to celebrate our differences rather than trying to force us all into impossible molds of preconceived beauty. The cause is facing an uphill battle against powerful foes including the weight loss industry and those who seek to help us reach perfection with a few nips and tucks. Sadly, these industries and people like the woman who approached me believe they have the right to bully others.
My question is, why would women continue to use such underhanded tactics to bring business to themselves? Why would they think it’s OK to attack another woman’s self-esteem for their own personal gain?
Isn’t it the job of a beauty consultant to emphasize a woman’s attributes and minimize her flaws through simple techniques like clothing choices and natural looking makeup techniques?
Turning a mis-fired shot into a campaign to help others
Though in this case, the ostensible consultant chose her target and the presumed flaw very badly indeed. In the first place, I’ve put a lot of effort into learning to love and accept myself, warts and all. And my legs are and always have been my favorite feature. Even my hyper-critical mother could find no fault there! The only people who have ever taken issue with my legs have been those who believe a woman should keep that appendage covered no matter what. I have also taken it upon myself to set those who believe it’s acceptable to bully others straight.
In this world where tearing down and demeaning women is becoming more and more accepted after years of effort to encourage fair treatment, it is imperative that every industry where woman have influence be conscious of treating women, not like objects which are simply on earth to please the male of the species, but as individuals with their own wants and needs, qualities and flaws. It is up to us to build each other up, not tear each other down.
Turning our backs on conformity
One way to do that is to discourage those who use such underhanded techniques to fill their bank account. We must turn our backs on them and their business practices which profit from women’s insecurities.
By the same token, we must support those businesses which seek to celebrate women and their differences. Celebrate the women who don’t need perfect bodies to celebrate their femininity. Who don’t need the approval of others to wear what makes them feel good. And we must help other women appreciate their own qualities and accept the flaws as part of what makes them unique.
And please, can’t we convince all of the women who parade around looking like plain vanilla, demure Barbie Dolls that they’re not doing anyone any favors? You with your figures starved to unnatural slimness, your beige, gray, and black clothing, your air of conventionality and conservatism. We know that once you’ve snagged your man, the real you comes out. So why play the game? It’s only going to attract the type who thinks they want that blandness, which forces you to at least try to fit a mold which really isn’t you.
Let your hair blow wild and crazy once in awhile. Stop covering up those falsely perceived flaws with makeup. Celebrate your individuality instead of stuffing it down so far, even its screams for mercy are stifled.
Setting strong examples
I’ve always been drawn to women like Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand who used what some might call flaws to stand out from the crowd. So what if your hips are wider than what society tells you is perfection? So what if your nose isn’t in perfect proportion to your face? Or if your hair blows in wild disarray around your face instead of hanging in a polite, straight stream unlike any waterfall I’ve ever seen.
Above all, revel in all that makes you unique. Yes, there are women who will dislike you on sight, not because you’re different, but because you’re brave enough to be while they live in a bubble of their own making. They don’t envy your looks or your confidence. They envy your ability to ignore all of the overt and subliminal messages filling our lives, encouraging us to be something we’re not; something we were never meant to be.
Even more, find something in every woman you meet to compliment. We truly can help each other, one compliment at a time.
Otherwise, we’ll all eventually just be a society of Stepford Wives.
Our strongest weapon is gratitude
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful I learned to revel in my uniqueness.
- I’m grateful I need validation from no one to accept and love myself.
- I’m grateful I can be a voice for other women who can be blind-sided by “well-meaning” people who offer their assistance at the expense of someone else’s self-esteem.
- I’m grateful for friends who are as unique and self-confident as I’ve always striven to be.
- I’m grateful for abundance: self-confidence, integrity, beauty of all sizes, shapes and colors, health, joy, happiness, friendship, love (of self too!), peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.
I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!
Photo courtesy of J. Lightning via Flickr