This post is by Alex Iwashyna of Late Enough, who is also Ms. November in the Blogger Body Calendar, a charity project to promote healthy body image.
When my children walk into the bathroom and watch me going through the feminine rituals of shaving and makeup, I wonder if I’ve let them down. If my conforming to these cultural ideals makes me a cog in the wheel of less than and not enough.
Every time I suck in.
Every time I look for extra lift or pull or push.
Every time I pluck and wax and shave and color and lighten and darken and change.
Am I giving messages that I cannot take back? Am I saying that the one person, who seems like everything to them, is not enough?
My son still wanders naked through the house.
My daughter still says boob like it’s pointing out an ear or a nose.
But one day these will take on so much more meaning.
One day my daughter will ask to shave her legs and I will acquiesce.
My son will ask for weights. And I will hand them over.
And worry. Whenever they don’t eat enough. Whenever they eat too much. Whenever they look in the mirror and sigh the sigh that I know so well.
I’m not enough. I’m not enough. I’m not enough.
It’s a very little thing to pose mostly naked for a calendar. It won’t change everything.
But when I wrote underneath my picture, “There’s nothing more daring than being yourself,” I hoped that it would move someone just a bit. Awaken the voice inside each of us. The voice that whispers: Take a chance. Go and be radical. Go and be beautiful.
Go. And be yourself.
You can sneak a peek at the Blogger Body Calendar where all proceeds go to the National Eating Disorders Association. If you have been touched by an eating disorder or if you just want to be reminded throughout 2011 that you are beautiful just the way you are, buy a calendar.
Also, your very own Crunchy Betty over at the Blogger Body Calendar for our Food and Body Image week! Check her and her sushi out!
Thanks, Alex for your candor and for starting a great conversation. I have a 10 year-old daughter, and have thought about the fact that we all take what people are doing rather than what they’re saying to be the truth. So if I tell her “I wouldn’t have you any other way, be yourself” etc… and I come home with highlights in my hair, I’m shaving my legs, putting on makeup etc… what does she think?
As many of the comments reflect, we can feel the difference between the “I’m not enough” vibe coming off of someone as compared to “I’m all that, and I’m having a blast exploring it.”
You’re reminding of a conversation that my daughter and I had when she first started wearing glasses, and she said she was afraid that other people will think she looks ugly in them, and that’s why she didn’t want to wear them.
(I wear my glasses more than my contact lenses, but c’mon, I’m just her old mom. You know how far I was going to get with that, even if she only ever seen me wear my glasses. At least until she gets older and turns into me.)
I was reminded that she isn’t so afraid of what other people think when she wears what I think is one of the most hideous outfits -yes I’m being a little dramatic but just a little, in MY opinion – I’ve ever seen to school, but that’s because she thinks this outfit is all that.
I said that her glasses looked great on her, but I understood that what I thought didn’t matter that much, and she quickly agreed, saying “all parents say that to their kids.”
I said that even if she did believe me when I said that I thought they looked great, it didn’t matter, because she doesn’t really care what anyone else thinks. She only cares what the people who she agrees with think, that I was sure that if we asked 100 kids about the clothes she wears or how she wears her hair, some would say they loved it, some would say they didn’t. How was she going to decide who was right, if everyone has a different opinion, and if she is going to do something based on what people think?
Sure, it can depend on who those people are. But the people who influence us are the people who we agree with.
So I guess what comforts me the most is that in the end, we aren’t doing anything because we care what other people think. And if what we think is giving us pause, we must have a good reason.
Going to check out your blog now, Alex, and you with your sushi, Crunchy!
One of my fav things about being a hairstylist and being in the beauty industry is our ability to create and have fun with ourselves. It’s fun to share ideas with others and see new possibilities with our hair, face, etc. I think we have taken it farther then it needed to go, making it our identity when we are so much more than just our looks.
In my mind, like said above, there’s a value when we appreciate and take care of ourselves and enjoy our looks. I told myself, I will enjoy my body and my features while I have it. If I get so caught up and lost in it where that it’s all consuming, than ive gone to far. I will know this is I look in the mirror and feel dread. There’s alway the possibility that our looks will change or we won’t have what we do now. If I have the fun tools , food, makeup and all sorts use them and have fun, but if I ever don’t, then it better not be the end of me.. That’s when I really know I sold out on myself.
Enjoy who you are and all of you.. You got this life to use and be grateful for! To complain is insulting to all the women who stood up for us in past history, our mothers, and worst our self. Be strong and appreciate every working organ the greatness of YOU!
Being oneself is a tough job. Being oneself’s biggest critic is much easier. I hope I can raise my kids to know that being themselves is awesome.
No, I don’t believe you’re conforming. To pluck, scrub, wash, tone, apply makeup…these aren’t things which signify that you’re not enough. Rather, it shows them that hey…I care enough about who I am that I try to look my best everyday. Some would call this narcissistic or egotistical, but it shows that we take great pride in who we are. Working out or dieting, when done moderately, shows that we’d like to take good care of our bodies…we only have them for so long! Yes, appearances aren’t everything, and personal work should be done from the inside out, but when it comes down to it…don’t we feel a hint of confidence when we wear that favorite shade of lip gloss? Or those jeans that fit JUST right? I’m not saying that modifying the exterior will suddenly solve all of our problems, but taking care of ourselves shows that we ARE proud of who we are, and want to keep that up. Great post!
You’re not letting them down. Truly. I think it’s all in the attitude that they see you approaching your beauty routine with. If they see you taking care of yourself in healthy ways and wanting to put your best foot (or face) forward… I don’t see any contradiction in that at all.
On the other hand, if they see their mommy looking in the mirror and stating how fat/ugly/worthless she is, well they’ll pick up on that too. Yo-yo dieting, plastic surgery and self-loathing will plant itself firmly in their psyches. That’s when you get skinny little 8-yr old girls saying “I think this dress makes me look fat”. I got that from a little girl after I complimented her on her pretty sparkly dress. I was stunned to say the least.
Great post topic and great calendar!
Well said. It’s so hard to teach self-esteem, self-worth when we doubt our own. It feels like faking it, doesn’t it?
Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points
I am two me’s.
I am the me that is pale, blotchy, has hair that is straight or curly-frizzy depending on what part of my head you’re looking at, has no ankles to speak of, has stretch marks and booty dimples and never had braces.
I am also the me that is the hourglass figure made hourglassier by an amazing bra, the broad shoulders made broader by accentuating my waist, the excellent posture, the deep eyes made deeper by lovely shadows and liner, the creamy complexioned after some concealer.
There is the me that is lovely while unadorned, and the me that is lovely while adorned.
They are both me. They just go to different places.
And I am equally comfortable and confident being both of them.
LOVE that calendar.