Have you seen this? A friend pointed me in this direction during a recent conversation about teen girls, self-image, peer pressure and mental health. A weighty subject indeed. And this short little snippet rocked my world.
Because I could totally relate to the women depicted and that made me very sad. I also knew, instantaneously, where it all began~in my youth. The negative self-talk that started at a young age and served as an initial “motivator” to walk a straight line, stay fit, be a good girl, and succumb to the idea that beauty is painful, hard and just plain work. That it was something you “strive for” rather than something that is God-given and emanates from within.
I know for certain that I’m not alone in this experience. And like many of you, nobody ever actually told me those things or made me feel “less than”. It didn’t come from my immediate family or friends but nevertheless- it surfaced from somewhere….and it made me intensely focused on the FLAWS. My flaws. The ones on my face, on my body, well everywhere….ALL the time!
This flaw-focused pattern then becomes ingrained, as it certainly did for me, and it’s often set on “repeat” through the seasons of our life. It’s like your very own personal “negativity playlist” that can be conjured “on demand” or may creep up on you out of nowhere.
Think about it, how hard is it for us as women to take a genuine compliment sometimes (without countering it with something negative)? A friend says, “wow, that is a gorgeous color on you” and you may politely thank them just before you dive into how the bags under your eyes now have their own zip code on your face and your roots need desperate attention. Am I right? It’s sort of crazy.
Nowadays, this negative self-concept is amplified not only by the pressures that we more mature ladies experienced as we grew, but also by social media and the ever-present imagery of an unattainable “norm” for women of all ages. It’s spilling over to our girls and seizing their self-concept at an even more rapid and alarming rate.
Why oh why can’t we simply show up for OURSELVES each day… as others see us… as we TRULY are? Why do we as women, of all ages and backgrounds have such a hard time doing this? My friends, I PROMISE YOU, you are ALL so much more beautiful than you think.
Bottom line, we need to DO BETTER. Better at helping our girls build a strong foundation and an understanding of their INNER beauty. Better at helping them maintain a positive mindset and equipping them with coping strategies to buffer the negativity~both from within and outside of themselves. We must do better at shining a light and creating a heightened awareness of this issue and its pervasiveness.
It’s a pattern that starts early and is reinforced (both intentionally and inadvertently) across the settings and stages of our lives. We simply MUST DO SOMETHING to effect change. It starts with our self-awareness because we are the ROLE MODELS in all of this. And as we know all too well, these cycles continue on and on…..they are pervasive, toxic and they simply have to stop.
So….if we aren’t having conversations with ourselves, the women in our life, and certainly our daughters, we MUST make it a priority. TODAY. It’s not at all comfortable….welcoming the ugly truth, the flood of emotion and vulnerability never is, but it’s so very NECESSARY.
We can no longer perpetuate the destructive dialogues we have with ourselves in our own heads and then pass it on to our daughters like some precious heirloom. Instead, we must glimpse the beauty within, JUST AS OTHERS SEE US, and hold that image steadfast in our minds as we move through this world.
GRASP that beauty, my friends, and bless others to do the same. It truly is everything.
Follow my friend, Brandee El-Attar, on Facebook at Brandeelandblossoms.