The Mirror Lies: Women’s Struggle with Self Acceptance

Hello Everyone!

Since I am new to the blogging community I thought I would begin with a topic that is near and dear to my heart and it affects nearly every woman on the planet – our own unrealistic expectations.

If Only….

How many times a day do we find ourselves saying “if only…”? If only I were taller, shorter, skinnier, blonder, paler, darker, had larger breasts, had curly hair, had straight hair etc. We go on and on and we come up with all these products to change ourselves – make-up, spanx, hair spray, straighteners, high heels, extensions and this list goes on. The real kicker is the fact that we are lead to believe that these things will help us “feel better” about ourselves (ie: I just feel better about  myself when I leave the house with  full face of make-up on).

My question is…

At a time when we, arguably,  have the most “feel better” products available in history, why do women still have such a negative self concept? Don’t get me wrong, I love playing “dress up” as much as the next girl; playing with make-up is fun and if it is used to enhance ones features that is one thing. However, it is when women and girls believe they NEED these things or have to change themselves to be of value, that is when we are doing 1/2 the world’s population a disservice.  According to The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, approximately 10 billion dollars were spent on cosmetic surgery in 2011 alone and rising every year.

The Mirror Lies

Contrary to popular belief the mirror DOES in fact lie. Well, our own negative self-talk creates an inaccurate and overly harsh image of ourselves. The more we have it drilled into our heads that we need to change, the more it we see it reflected in the mirror. As a therapist, I have seen a disproportionately large amount of women and girls over the years, in addition to the conversations with my own friends, that see themselves in a very different light than what the people around them see.  Recently, I saw a profoundly enlightening video created by DOVE depicting this phenomenon. (See the video link below)

So, What Can I Do About it?

That is a really good question! The change has to start with YOU. YOU are the model for future generations: moms, aunts, cousins teachers, friends, business women, athletes, the list goes on. Ever heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words”?  Well it is true. How you hold yourself, talk to yourself, and believe in yourself will be an example to all those who look up to you.  In an effort to help you begin to enjoy being the wonderful person you are, I have compiled a list of things that can help you feel better about yourself:

1. Continually remind yourself that you are your own worst critic.

2. When you catch yourself starting the “if only…” replace that with a positive affirmation (My little sister used to write things like “Hello Beautiful” on her vanity mirror with dry erase marker – yay for positive reminders that make you smile!)

3. Let people around you know when you need a self-esteem boost. Contrary to popular belief it is OK to ask people for reminders of how amazing they think you are (I know someone who will occasionally say to her husband, “I am feeling really down on myself right now. Please tell me 3 good things about me or that I do well having nothing to do with looks). The more you ask for what you need, the more likely you are to get it.

4. Make time to do at least ONE thing EVERY day for yourself, even if it is only a small indulgence ie: buy a ridiculously priced box of chocolates and quietly enjoy one piece every day, take a bath, read a favorite book before bed (the newspaper, books about work, emails or other bits of serious reading material do not count), go for a quiet walk by yourself or give yourself a full mani-pedi. The options are endless!

5. Do at least ONE thing EVERY day that makes you laugh, the healing properties of laughter have been proven time and time again (ie: dance around the kitchen to your favorite song while cooking dinner).

6. HUG! Someone once told me that we need 5 hugs a day to SURVIVE and 8 to be happy!

7. Meditate – I have recently found a wonderful app that reminds me throughout the day to pause and take two deep breaths as well as provides meditation exercises when I have a little more time (to start my day or end it). It is called Mindfulness Daily – love it!

8. Watch a baby sleep – babies have a way of looking so peaceful and calming when they sleep – we can learn from them!

9. Exercise! I’m sure I do not need to tell you the many benefits of exercise, however I have a very wise friend who told me there should be a few rules to your daily exercise:

–  The type of exercise should bring you joy (skip the 6 AM Spinning class if the idea of it makes you dread waking up!)

– If you are exercising and you find yourself falling into negative or stressful thoughts or you are not enjoying it – STOP and try again tomorrow.

I know those rules are not for everyone but I thought they were pretty good!

10. Get your beauty rest! Sleep is very important to regulate mood, improve your ability to process information and energy to do things  like dance around the kitchen while making dinner. 🙂

To end this post, I would like to share a new music video by Colbie Caillat that brought tears to my eyes because the message was so beautiful!