Monday, April 23, 2007

Mom, am I pretty?

Where does self-esteem come from and how do you get more? Can you feel better about yourself by thinking happy thoughts and is your low self-esteem your mother's fault?

Recently, Alison Lee posted a comment here saying " Good post! Women suffer from low self esteem due to how they look." Alison then went on to suggest that you, dear reader, visit her blog via the link so handily provided, where you will learn self-esteem by saying some of her affirmations and watching the movie The Secret.

While I appreciate anyone reading my blog and taking the time to comment and I am always happy to have the movie The Secret mentioned, I must say that I disagree with Alison's take on my post and it seems to me that she missed the point.

Perhaps it doesn't really matter if she understands what I am talking about here as it seems that she was just looking for a place to post a link back to her blog but I don't believe, as she said, that women suffer from low self esteem due to how they look. I believe that women are suffering with low self-esteem and poor body image issues because they are being brainwashed by the fashion and diet industries to believe that there is something wrong with the way that they look.

Women are the targets in a consumer driven war and self doubt is the weapon of choice. We are attacked every time we see a billboard, turn on the television, listen to the radio and go to the mall. Why must I be constantly told that I am the "before" picture every time I want to buy a shirt? It's because they want you to stop at the drug store and buy a protein shake for lunch and metabolism pills for dinner.

And about those "before" pictures...have you noticed that those women are getting thinner? Does it really make sense to brag that you used to be a size 10 and now you are a size 4? Does anyone else see that this is insanity? Remember, Marilyn Monroe weighed about 150 lbs and wore a size 14.

This is why I so strongly applaud Dove and their two current size positive and age positive campaigns -- yes, they are marketing their products but they are using real women in all their ads. The ads for The Campaign for Real Beauty and their line of Pro-Age products are using women of various heights, weights and skin color. These women have wide hips, round bellies, big smiles and all are beautiful. In the Pro Age ads they are using women over 50 with white hair, and they are naked! Without digital enhancement Dove is Celebrating every Curve.

Perfection is the inclusion of things, all experiences, all events in your life. Not the exclusion of those things of which you don't approve. Look at yourself in the mirror and praise everything you see that you can find approval for and do it for at least 10 minutes. Even if you are saying the same things over and over.

One day, not too long ago, I was feeling very unhappy about my physical appearance so I decided that to change the way I looked I would change the way I thought about myself. I stood in the mirror, looking myself in the eye and saying out loud what I thought was attractive. When I started I could only get as far as my eyebrows and my lips but I repeated "I like my eyebrows, I like the shape of my mouth, I like the outline of my lips," a few times and then I noticed that my hair looked great so I added "I like my hair." Then I noticed that my shoulders have a very appealing curve so I added "I like my shoulders." I had to move to the full-length mirror because there was so much that was great about me. I loved myself so much after 10 minutes that it was hard to leave the mirror.

So to answer my own questions from the first paragraph I would say that self-esteem comes from yourself and you have a limitless supply of more, thinking happy thoughts will absolutely make you feel happy and while it might be your mother's fault she really did do her best and she has issues of her own so give the gal some credit.


Sprite said...

You're right, beauty is what's inside. That goes for men and women. Your blog is quite liberal and not as stuffy as I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be all about weight and stuff, but it's more about... being female. HEY! Alright! :)

Laura Brown said...

Hi. I came to read your blog after seeing your comment on Creative Fat Grrl. I like what you have to say though I have only skimmed. (I wasn't expecting an essay though I always like seeing someone making thought out posts, more like the old blogs). Anyway, just wanted to let you know that your link to BBW World has an extra http in it and won't work. Other than that, I will be back to read more! :)

Sheena said...

Your comments really hit home, in more ways than one! And you are a hard hitter! It is amazing how you are right on point about the power of a mother's words -- almost as if you know her!

Anonymous said...

What an excellent post and so true. We can "blame" many things on our moms - but as you say give the gal some slack. They did the best they could.

At some point we need to take in on ourselves. I'm glad when you look in the mirror, you like who you are. I do too (most days). :)

Anonymous said...

I can't say I'm a fan of new age philosophies, because 99% of them operate on providing their authors with quick cash, and I believe that there are professionals out there, who earn considerably less, who train for years, trying to help people genuinely face hurdles (that may be ingrained, conditioned, whatever, it's always more complicated than the quick fix), so the generalisation, how we look as woman, as being the causative agent to low self esteem is a generalisation. Not only that Corrinna, I find those types of blog comments inhibiting because they tend to ignore what a blogger/writer has written in the first place.

I saw the ad for Dove that you mention, and found it awesome. I'd also like to mention that it hasn't been televised here in Australia yet (strange but true).

While industries aim to shift products (fashion, beauty, etc), people do tend to gravitate toward people who respect and love them for who they are as people who can appreciate the world, including its flaws.

You're absolutely correct to say that self esteem comes from a person's own perception of themselves. Sometimes it's easier said (depending on what time of the month for me, lol, joking), but most times I think, like you say, the positive self comments, kick start other processes (chemical reactions, peptides, serotonin in particular) in the human brain that do actually make a person feel good.

I remember close to ten years ago, I had a hell of a time still trying to exercise my way to some sort of ideal two years after I had my son, and it didn't make a difference. On the contrary, the men in my life found my obsession with calories, tedious, not to mention my 'gym' conversations about my workouts, and need to exercise back then. But women did as well, not just men.

Unknown said...

I really like what you said here. There aren't enough people questioning what is being fed to women and there needs to be more. Thank you.