Having it all together.

As women we never feel that we have it all together even when our hair is perfectly placed and we are adorning a cute outfit – doesn’t matter, not even in the slightest. We can still feel like crap, like why did we even put in the effort to get ready this morning. Should have just rolled out in my pajama pants and t-shirt to greet the world. This all makes me believe even more that Beth Moore was dead on in her must-read So Long Insecurity: you’ve been a bad friend to us. That perfectly quaff woman who each of us envy so much probably has days when she feels like crap and wonders to herself why she even bothered to get ready.

It is the mentality and cliché that the grass is always greener on the other side, while our grass is gross, disgusting burnt-out why would any man ever want this lawn. And when we see that quaff woman on the street corner or in the next office, desk, bar stool, church pew, etc., not only do we become absolutely envious, we decide we hate her. We don’t even know her, don’t even know what scars her heart but we have already made up our minds to hate her. And we say it so casually to our girlfriends who more often than not agree with us.

So while our society is throwing out every kind of unrealistic image and expectation of women and we are becoming bull-dozed day in and out with how we should be and look, we are only taking it one step further when we put ourselves in competition with every woman in the room. Think about it. Every time you walk into a crowded room what is one of the first things you do (besides tightly cling to your man if you are with one)? You size up the competition and see where you fit in with the rest. And to make it even worse, you base your confidence and self-esteem for that night on how attractive, smart, educated, etc., you are in comparison to the other women.

Instead of constantly clawing at one another, we should be lifting one another up, collaborating, fighting the status–quo, instead of staying Mean Girls well into our twenties. Wasn’t high school enough?

Challenge: The next time before you feel like judging and hating on a woman take a deep breathe and say a prayer for her and whatever insecurities of her own she might be facing at the moment.

If doing it for ourselves and adult women isn’t enough to challenge our society, we should also consider our younger sisters, nieces, daughters and future daughters.

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Going against the grain

(author’s note: i have not written on the blog for a while, but i am back in the game. a passion in my heart that i can’t ignore is making sure women of all ages know they are more than just a pretty face. writing this blog is also a great reminder for myself.  if this is your first read on here: check this out!)

As a senior in college, it is easy to reflect on my past four years. I was reminded today of the first guy I liked at Creighton and the empty feelings I had when it ended. And I can’t imagine how much more empty I would have felt if I had given more of myself away to him.

For many college students, hooking up is a normal part of campus life. But one young girl, Lady Gaga and Kelly Clarkson take a stance against it and can serve as positive role models for young women.

Read the ARTICLE on cnn.com and tell me what you think. Be honest. Be open. Be you.

“I’m respecting myself,” Boyle said confidently one sunny morning before class. “And I won’t waste my time with some guy who doesn’t care about me.”

(Quote from the article)

Princess Culture

For my Feature Writing class this semester (which is over), I wrote about the current Princess Culture for my final piece.

Here it is:

Once upon a time in America, young girls threw away their self-identity and put on their crowns and pink party dresses with the help of the media and national brands such as Disney and Mattel.

In recent years, a new culture has emerged; known as the Princess Culture.

The Princess Culture “include[s] all of the media, peer interactions, family interactions, institutions, and products that encourage girls to view themselves as princesses and to consume products about princesses…that help them experience themselves as princesses,” said Sherianne Shuler, Creighton University professor, who has begun researching the Princess Culture. “It’s everywhere. You can hardly buy clothing or toys for young girls that does not say ‘princess’ on it or that does not feature the Disney princesses.”

According to a 2006 New York Times magazine article, “What’s wrong with Cinderella,” by Peggy Orenstein, “Sales at Disney Consumer Products, which started the craze six years ago by packaging nine of its female characters under one royal rubric, have shot up to $3 billion, globally, this year, from $300 million in 2001. There are now more than 25,000 Disney Princess items.”

The problem is not that young girls like to dress-up or be princesses, the problem is that being a princess appears to be the only option and there is a fine line between dressing up for fun and when it becomes harmful.

“I’m not sure exactly [where the line it], but I think it has to do with options. When little girls can dress up and play at a variety of roles (they can be doctors, construction workers, racecar drivers, mamas, princesses, teachers, animals, etc), then it’s pretty harmless,” Schuler said. “When the only thing they can play at is princess, then I think it’s harmful.”

Though not every young girl who dresses up as a princess will face self-esteem issues or self-identity issues, there are harmful side effects to the Princess Culture.

“At best, it just limits their imaginations about what they can be interested in, dress up like, and play about.” Schuler said. “At worst (and these are not conclusively determined, but theorized), it promotes the thinking that their quest in life is to be beautiful…and marry a prince. It promotes one single standard of ideal womanhood—and it’s a straight, ultra-feminine, white, wealthy standard.”

In this day and age, where brands and media directly target young girls from television commercials to strategically placing the princess toys on the bottom shelves, parent can, should and must take an active role to combat the Princess Culture.

“At home, parents can provide a variety of dress up and play activities. When we buy a dominoes game, we don’t have to buy the Disney princess version. When we choose books, we can choose books that show girls and women in a variety of roles. When our little girls are obsessed with playing princess, we can sometimes play with them and gently suggest other options,” Shuler said. “Even with all this intervention, the peer culture is very strongly focused on princesses. You won’t be able to avoid it, but you can avoid encouraging it. And you can teach girls to critique it in small ways.”

Sidebar #1 (could also be used as a breakout box):

Parents and young girls cannot avoid the “Princess Culture,” but it is possible to help your daughter to avoid falling into the trap that being a princess is the only option to being a beautiful girl.  Here are some tips for parents in dealing with the princess cultured provided by Sherianne Shuler, Creighton University professor, who has begun researching the princess culture.

  1. When choosing games, don’t buy the princess version. Same with book, choose books that feature girls in a variety of roles.
  2. DO not buy clothes or accessories related to princesses, for example, a shirt that reads, “daddy’s little princess.”
  3. Limit princess media viewing.
  4. For older girls, you can have them learn about REAL princesses in the world and compare their lives to Disney princesses.
  5. Teach critical thinking about media. Even with 2-3 year olds, you can ask simple things like “Do you think Ariel would miss her family if she left the sea to get married and be in Prince Eric’s world?” or if they say, “I’m pretty like a princess,” a parent can say, “you are beautiful, honey, but is it more important to be pretty or to be smart and kind?”

You do not have to completely cut of princesses, because dressing up as a princess can be fun and expand your daughter’s imagination. But it is important to draw a line.

Sidebar 2:

An interesting and easy way to deal with the Princess Culture, especially the Disney Princesses, is to have you and your daughter take not of the good qualities that the princesses possess. This takes the focus of the fact that they are princesses and more on what makes them a strong woman. Take for example the following popular Disney princesses.

  1. Cinderella (Cinderella): She possesses the qualities of a hard worker without recognition or gratitude for her hard work. Her evil stepmother and stepsisters force her to work day and night, but she does not receive one thank you and she is not compensated for the work she has done.
  2. Bell (Beauty and the Beast): Bell promotes a love for reading and setting standards for herself. She doesn’t just fall for any guy. She rejects Gaston, because even though he maybe good looking and charming, she knows he is not good for her and won’t let her self settle. She also gives up her freedom and in return the Beast lets her father go. And she also helps the beast have a change of heart and learn to be a caring, gentle man.
  3. Arial (The Little Mermaid): Arial seeks adventure wherever she goes. She loves to explore new places and learn about new things. She is also not afraid to take risks, like becoming a human.
  4. Mulan (Mulan): decides to fight in her fathers place and defeat the toughest enemies, the Huns. She is able to fight alongside the strongest men.
  5. Jasmine (Aladdin): She takes it upon herself to leave her secure palace to experience what is beyond her small world. She is able to help Aladdin defeat Jafar at the end of the movie.

The Princess Culture cannot be avoided and looks like it will be around for awhile, so the best thing a parent can do is help their young daughter develop her own interests and if that means a tiara and glass slippers, at least it will be because she chose it.

Truth Be Told

In a recent conversation with a friend, we both came to the conclusion that we let boys affect how we feel about our physical appearance and worth.

When a boy flirts with us or gives us “more than a friend” attention we feel pretty. When we are rejected by members on the opposite sex, our self esteem is lower and we ask ourselves, “Why aren’t we good enough, pretty enough, cute enough…[insert your choice of adjective] enough?”

WHY?

I wish I had the answer, but I don’t.

I do now that my friend, all women and I are beautiful and worthy women of love. But somewhere between this truth and my heart, the message is lost in translation.

I am the same person inside and out whether or not a boy takes notice and it is one of my new goals start believing this truth in my heart on a daily basis.

Where do you find beauty?

True beauty is not found in the latest trend, plastic surgery or the perfect foundation color for your skin type. True beauty is usually found in the most simple moments of life. 

Here are moments in which I find true beauty.

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I also find beauty in the innocence of children, the silence between best friends, an elderly couple holding hands, a great edition of the Creightonian, a country song with beautiful lyrics and many more places.

 

WHERE DO YOU FIND TRUE BEAUTY IN YOUR EVERY DAY LIFE?

Dove Beauty Campaign

While most beauty brands bombard women with ways to be superficial beauties in our society, one brand attempts to persuade women to embrace their authentic, individual and unique beauty at any age: DOVE.

About a week ago I saw one of the most compelling and true commercials put out by DOVE.

I could not help but think, “this is exactly the message I want to convey through writing this blog.”

Watch the video and tell me what you think. What is your reaction? How can you help spread this message?

Beyond the Beauty

A woman is more than just a pretty face – this is a very cliché statement, but one that needs to be heard by women and men. In our society, girls are often told and shown, starting at a very young age, that to be successful and to snag a man in her life she must be pretty and skinny.

Before little girls even start to think about boys or make life goals, they are taught that being a woman is focused on how you look on the outside rather than focusing on the inside.

“Ironically, the dimensions of Barbie would not even be anatomically possible on humans. A woman with her dimensions of 36-18-38 would not be able to live. The perfection Barbie portrays has influenced many women to attain Barbie’s body by having operations to make themselves ‘look like Barbie'”

There is not to say that women should not care about their physical appearance, but there is much more to a woman’s potential than the perfect eyeliner or the best way to flirt with her crush.

It is important to present yourself to world with authentic confidence and if that includes sundresses and bright pink lip gloss the more power to you.

The goal of this blog is to let girls know and truly believe that they are more than just a pretty face. Girls of all ages should realize that their potential exceeds what society tries to tell us.