Today is my niece, Ashtyn’s, 12th Birthday!!! I plan to call her tonight and wish her a happy one. I can’t believe she is 12 – which inevitably means I am getting older… I talked with her one night last week for a few minutes and had this really fun “girly” conversation and I enjoyed it. I enjoy the time I get to spend with her. She is a sweet, funny, lovely, mature girl (I just couldn’t bear to type “young lady” just yet – she’s growing WAY too fast) and she & Claira really enjoy each other, too. (This is an old picture of Ashtyn & Claira, but it’s one of my favorites…)
I sent an e-card to her today from a “Campaign for Real Beauty” website sponsored by Dove. Ashtyn is beautiful. She has incredible hair (naturally curly) and it is thick and healthy and she has beautiful eyes that are a remarkable color (can’t quite describe them, in fact). She’s got these freckles sprinkled on her cheeks that just “fit” her and she often wears her hair back with a bandana which is SOOOOO cute.
Dove website: http://www.campaignforrealbeauty.com/
My friend, Jenna, sent a link to me showing the rapid transformation of a model from the Dove website. It showed clear pictures of the model before & after makeup, as well as the “tricks” that were applied to her finished photo for the final ad. Wow – that put things into perspective.
It’s a hard world to grow up in. There’s enough pressure from the outside world to be attractive. Everyone (men included) is supposed to “Look” a certain way to be considered “attractive” but we all know that while the outside might look “perfect”, it really does matter how a person looks on the inside. There is also that pressure on the inside. That ugly voice that starts, at some unnamed point along the way, that says I’m not worthy or attractive.
I can remember ALWAYS wanting to be different. Didn’t matter how I looked, I just wanted to look different, which in my thinking meant “better.” I still feel like that sometimes and have to fight off that sneering voice in my head. What a terribly unhealthy thing for me to do to myself. The truth is that weight matters only in relation to health. And even what some would describe as “healthy” requires unhealthy habits or behaviors to get there… I can remember a time in my life when I wasn’t eating. I was emotionally stressed and lost my appetite and also rapidly lost significant weight. When people started commenting on how thin I was getting, I was THRILLED that people noticed and I thought it was a good thing. NOT A GOOD THING!!!
Changing the voice in my head to talk more kindly to myself about how I look is not easy, and anybody who deals with self-esteem issues knows this. But it’s worth doing. What I think of myself affects every relationship I have. What I believe about myself guides my connection to others. It is important that I understand and accept that I am beautiful for who I am, and not what I am. I hope Ashtyn can grow up knowing that about herself. And I hope I can help Claira hear that kinder, loving voice inside herself above the clamor of society demanding that she be “perfect” in this imperfect world.