One of the blogs I check out regularly is Sally McGraw’s Already Pretty. I discovered Sally years ago when one of my former students (hello Laura!) emailed me to say, “I think you would dig her.” Laura was totally right and I have so enjoyed hearing her point of view about the intersection of body image and style and have also enjoyed seeing her outfit of the day photos. Last year, Sally published Already Pretty: Learning to Love Your Body By Learning to Dress It Well. It is a great tool and currently on sale over at Amazon.com (but hurry because who knows how long Amazon will keep it at that price). I was recently asked Sally to share some wisdom with my blog readers and I am honored to share this great post from her.
Let me tell you a secret. It’s something that cosmetics companies don’t want you to know, and retailers hope you never find out, and the diet industry assumes you’ll never believe. But I’m gonna spill the beans anyway:
There is nothing wrong with you.
You are gorgeous and glorious and goddesslike right now, today, just as you are. You don’t need a lick of makeup, or a pair of Spanx, or towering platform heels. You don’t need Botox or the 30-day Shred or Nice ‘N’ Easy to cover those grays. You don’t need Louboutins, or taupe nail polish, or whatever trend is gonna be trendy for the next seven seconds. If you WANT any of those things, then by all means go for ‘em. Every sentient human being is entitled to make choices. But you are utterly complete and undeniably marvelous without them.
As our girl Eleanor Roosevelt is oft-quoted as saying, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” And why the hell would you consent to THAT? Yes, there are larger forces at work and it can be hard to remember to love ourselves in the face of all that body-bashing racket. And yes, the global definition of beauty needs revision to include some actual diversity. And yes, it would be easier to believe that there’s nothing wrong with us if people would stop telling us and selling us all of our inexcusable “flaws.”
But belief is a choice. So choose to fight harder.
Start with yourself when it comes to transforming standards of beauty. Train yourself to evaluate the body messages that come in, and disregard the ones that don’t apply. Take some responsibility for how you feel about yourself. It’s not called self-image for nothing: SELF is at the center. Anything you can do for others is stellar, marvelous, above-and-beyond. But this battle starts at home, inside your own head. And you do have the power to accept or deny the messages that get fed into that gorgeous cranium.
You believed in the Tooth Fairy once, and Santa. You believed that your parents weren’t people, they were parents, and regular-person rules didn’t apply to them. You believed your heart was shattered for good, and you’d never love again. But you learned, you grew, you changed, and your beliefs changed with you.
It’s time to outgrow the belief that we are somehow inferior because we don’t look a certain way, wear certain things, live certain lives. It’s time to laugh it off when a magazine tells us we need to firm up and slim down, no matter how firm or slim we might already be. It’s time to focus on ourselves, as we are, instead of the selves that somebody else thinks we should be.
Because the secret is out: There is nothing wrong with us. Not a single, solitary thing.