Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sketch Yourself Beautiful

When I was student teaching a number of years back I wanted to be a part of a club that another teacher was forming called the Girls' Leadership Group. We started with only 8th grade girls and chose about 30 to join the group. Some girls we chose because they were confident. Some girls we chose because they needed confidence. Some girls were athletes. Some were academics. Some were leaders. Some were followers.

The point of the club was to start a conversation. This was a place where they could do some good for others through fundraisers and projects, a place for them to meet women who were just like them once and who are now successful, smart, savvy, beautiful, funny, and good people - and a place where they could learn that YES - you could be all of those things not just one of those things. But mostly this was a place where we could foster, support, and encourage girls. GLG became a place where we could talk openly and privately about how they, at this critical and confusing age, felt about so many confusing things: where they fit in, their place in the world, how they perceive themselves, their looks, their "status."

It was such an eye opener. And not in the best of ways. It made me realize how much there was to get done in the way of building up our girls.

Last night, I watched a short video created by Dove that reminded me of these girls and the reason I wanted to be a part of GLG. Being the mother of a daughter now it slaps me even harder:
We as women HAVE to change the way we see ourselves if we want our daughters and our girls to change the way they see themselves.  
We can't expect girls to find their own beauty if we are still looking for our own.  
We can't tell girls to be confident and believe in themselves if we find our own confidence from others' opinions or media. 

As was the point in the Girls' Leadership Group, so is the point here: to start a conversation. 

Why do we feel there is one barometer to define beauty when it comes to ourselves but not when it comes to others? Why do we allow ourselves to downplay our beautifulness?

We are harder on ourselves than other people are on us. We give others the room to be beautiful and unique when we won't give ourselves an inch.

We often want to change ourselves to fit our idea of beauty. We describe, we respond to characteristics that we wear so differently than we do when other people wear them.

When others have a gap in their teeth we say it gives them character. When others have a different nose we say it fits her face, it makes her beautiful. When others have a mole we say it adds uniqueness. When others have a large mouth we say their smile brightens the room.

Don't believe me?

Laura Hutton, a model from the 1970's. Her trademark? The gap in her teeth.

Anna Paquin known for the same thing...

Baaaarbara Streisand. Her trademark "imperfection?" Her nose. 

This big grin belongs to Julia Roberts. The famous million dollar smile...

And of course the famous mole that made Cindy Crawford famous.

Why can we look at these women and find beauty but not find it within ourselves or on our own bodies?

Today think about you and all of the beautiful things that make you you. Think about your greying hair, your small mouth, your long legs, your skinny ankles, your wide hips, your small fingers, your non six-packed belly, your pinky toe nail that never grew right, your imperfect teeth, your thin eyebrows, your scarred knees, your bunion on your left foot.

Now think about how all of those things are beautiful. Think about how if your best friend had any one of these things you would cherish her and call her beautiful. Think about how if your daughter looked like this, you would stil throw rose petals at her feet. And then transfer those feelings to yourself. Remember how harshly you could judge yourself and then choose not too.

We need so much more kindness in this world. Acceptance. LOVE. Why not start with yourself? Why not sketch yourself beautiful?

What is your imperfection that you will love today?

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