We are all guilty of being hard on ourselves, even though we all know deep down that we are our own worst critics. As hard as we try to boost the self-esteem of our sisters, mothers, daughters, and friends, we seem to have an incredibly tough go at taking our own advice and loving ourselves for who we are – unconditionally. We all talk the talk to others, but do YOU walk the walk?
This year, we’re walking, ladies. The following story is one of true inspiration. It’s a positive portrayal of “real” beauty, and a reminder that our definition of beauty is one that needs to be re-evaluated often. While many of us have a difficult time thinking positively about our lives in general (let alone a hard situation), this amazing teen consistently chooses to hold her head high, and smile brightly despite her less than ideal circumstances.
13-year-old Talia Castellano was diagnosed with cancer when she was just 7 years young. Talia made an appearance on the talk show Ellen, where she was honored by CoverGirl, and given her very own CoverGirl-style portrait, complete with her name across the top. Despite learning this past summer that her cancer is spreading, Talia is making big plans, and continues to be an inspiration on how to live life to the fullest to anybody who feels as though they have something to feel sorry for themselves about.
What a story! This young lady has made me wonder why women are often so quick to critique themselves (and each other), even when we KNOW it’s not healthy, and does NOT make us happier to do so. It’s amazing how we women often learn the best lessons from those who are a fraction of our age. We put too much pressure on ourselves to look, act, feel, and appear a certain way – and it’s not even for US! Why are we often so ready and willing to succumb to peer pressure? We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to BE.
Message One: “Your looks shouldn’t matter. They are superficial. It’s what is inside that counts. Stay true to your real self. Let your looks take their natural course as you age.”1
This message is obviously the one we convey to our loved ones.
Message Two: Your looks should matter and they always will. Defy aging at whatever the cost, in any way you can, lest you become invisible. Oh, and be sure to make it look natural!2
This second message is the one that lives in our heads, and rules our dwindling self-esteem as we grow older. No wonder we struggle! The oddest thing is, we create this weird dynamic ourselves. Dr. Diller is the author of Face It: What Women Really Feel as Their Looks Change, and is a pioneer in the campaign to help women see their own, inner beauty. She has appeared in Prevention magazine, in an article titled “Are You Authentically Beautiful?” She says “authentic beauty is about feeling and looking our best by making the most of the assets we actually have.”3 Over the years, she has asked countless women about what makes them look and feel their best. These are some popular answers:
“Confidence. This was the most common response across a wide range of ages and cultures. Women associated feeling attractive with times when they felt most self-assured, free of internal and external judgment. Little tactics like holding their heads up high, standing tall and making eye contact led to looking and feeling more attractive. A radiant smile (otherwise known as “the great face lift”) was viewed as the most effective expression of confidence. And it’s something that’s available to all women, free and natural.
Reinvention. Women who are able to let go of rigid ideas of beauty say they feel attractive even as their looks change. The more you believe that beauty is equated with youth, the greater tension you will feel. But letting go of your former self-image doesn’t mean neglecting yourself—it’s about finding new ways to take care of yourself. Pay attention to your changing needs by trying a different hairstyle that flatters your face or wearing new colors that bring out your best feature. A flexible attitude toward beauty leads to the ability to adjust your style and fashion sense, a key to enjoying your looks regardless of your size, shape, or age.
Focus On What You Have, Not on What You Don’t. Women who focus on features they like (rather criticize what they lack) and use them to enhance their self-image are more likely to feel attractive. Take a look at yourself and choose one feature you like and embellish it. Delicate wrists? Wear an eye-catching watch. Thick hair? Don an elegant headband or jeweled clip. We all have features we could enjoy if we only focused on them instead of our imperfections.”4
We all have the opportunity to become our own CoverGirl, and tomorrow is the perfect date to begin a fresh perspective on your life, and YOU. When you are feeling down about something superficial, whether it be your graying hair, your tighter jeans, or your growing crow’s feet, ask yourself if it really matters, and I mean really matters. Think of Talia, our 13-year-old CoverGirl and cancer-slayer, and then remind yourself to take a deep, cleansing breath. Make a list of all the great things you have going for yourself, and tape it to your bathroom mirror, or stick it to your refrigerator. It’s all perspective – will YOU be your own New Year’s New CoverGirl?
I hope you dance your way into 2013!! I am looking forward to sharing more joy & passion for life with you in the New Year.
Remember: Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT!
Check out more at EllenDolgen.com. Links below:
1 For more on Vivian Diller, please check out http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vivian-diller-phd/feminism-beauty-paradox_b_835091.html
2 To read more Vivian Diller greatness, visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vivian-diller-phd/feminism-beauty-paradox_b_835091.html
3 To view Vivian Diller featured in Prevention, go to http://www.prevention.com/your-beauty/blog/are-you-authentically-beautiful
4 To view Vivian Diller featured in Prevention, go to http://www.prevention.com/your-beauty/blog/are-you-authentically-beautiful