Years ago, when I worked for a national television talk show, we did a program on the “beauty myth.” I’ll never forget the guest who had taught the first-ever women’s studies class.
She asked her students to bring in a picture of someone they deemed to be the most beautiful. At the time, Farrah Fawcett was a beauty icon and so every girl in the class brought in a picture of the actor.
The professor brought in a picture of an 80-year-old woman diving into a pool of water. She was wearing a bathing cap, and her makeup-free face was healthy and fresh. That woman’s health, vitality and well-being was shining through, and the professor wanted to make the point that this picture of health was truly beautiful.
We are so hard on ourselves, always worrying about that extra weight, the physical imperfections that come with aging and fading beauty. Bliss and well-being are much more important than outer beauty or a youthful appearance, and I am concerned when I see teens to 80-somethings obsessing about how they look on the outside, and putting their energy into salvaging their youth instead of embracing and loving the way they are inside with all of their “Shirley Valentine” imperfections.
Now I’m not saying that each new birthday doesn’t bring that (gulp!), “I’m still 21 years old. Why are there so many extra candles on my birthday cake?” phenomenon. But as one of my best friends, Sari, always says, “It’s a happy problem.”
And as a coach who specializes in helping people find inner bliss, it is worrying to see the focus on an area that really doesn’t bring any inner peace or happiness.
So I was very excited when I was combing through my favourite new website, Pinterest, to find a book called Beautiful You by Rosie Molinary, which deals with exactly this notion of truly being happy with the way we are.
Every day we are bombarded with images of beauty in magazines, newspapers and movies and on the Internet and TV. This book helps women and girls to develop a healthier self-image and learn how to love themselves from within and not just the way they look on the outside. Instead of typical affirmations and meditations, Molinary has a 365-day action plan that gives the reader daily actions and exercises that they can to do to retrain their minds to love their bodies and themselves from the inside out
A guest on another show, which I produced, had 18 plastic surgeries to turn herself into a living, breathing Barbie doll. And I distinctly remember her showing up at our studio with three outfits, including one that resembled the pink-and-white polka-dot dress my first Barbie had sported many years ago. The psychotherapist on the panel said that it didn’t matter how beautiful or great this Barbie lookalike appeared; there was something wrong with the overemphasis on her looks and her desire to turn herself into an inanimate object. It didn’t matter how many surgeries she had; none of them were able to repair her damaged self-esteem.
So how can young girls, teens and even older women and men boost their confidence and learn how to love themselves? Well, a great way to start is to check out The Everything Self-Esteem Book by Robert M. Sherfield. Some of his tips on how to create more healthy self-esteem are: to practise optimism, learn to live on the light side, strive for some joy every day and let go of perfection.
Judy Siblin-Librach is an Adler-trained coach. You can reach her at her website, www.findingyourbliss.com, or watch her new TV show, Finding Your Bliss, on Rogers TV, Channel 10, Toronto; Channel 63, Scarborough.