Saturday, February 27, 2010

Redefining Beauty Part Two

After I wrote the first blog, I started thinking of the ramifications of distorted self-image. Don't get me wrong, I know we all have times and seasons in our life when we don't feel our best. I am not talking about wanting to be better, I'm talking about self-hatred. I think a lot of women would say they don't hate themselves, but secretly, in the depths of their thoughts, they do.

So here is my question for the day; "What dreams in your heart are on "hold" until you are skinnier/prettier?" How many things as women do we shrink back from because we haven't gotten rid of that acne yet, or our hair isn't quite right, or we still haven't lost those last 15 pounds? I have a confession to make. After giving birth to my 3rd son Jeremiah, I was about 30 pounds overweight. That was the biggest I had ever been and I felt very uncomfortable. I had the opportunity to go back to school that year (2004), and I almost didn't go because of my weight. I wanted to hide in my house and stay out of the general public because I felt so uncomfortable. I am SO glad that in the end I didn't let my weight hold me back. I ended up moving forward and it has been (to this day) one of the most transforming years of my life. It is also the year I wrote my book "Surviving Single Motherhood."

So what is holding you back? What are you waiting for? I challenge you to move past your fear or insecurity and make a way for the women that will go behind you. And then go watch the biggest loser and be inspired by those who put it all out there for the world to see!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Who Gets to Define Beauty?

We have some major problems in the country. One of them is affecting us as women like never before. That problem is that somewhere, someone decided they get to define what real beauty is, and what they decided on was asinine.

Every once in a while you come across a person or an organization that will challenge asinine ideas like this, that company is Dove, and that person is me, campaigning for real beauty.

One of the most surprising emotions I had while reading Barrack Obama's book "Dreams From My Father" was when he described the self-hatred the black community had for themselves. How they hated their skin, their hair, their looks, they felt so ugly. This made me cry, because somehow an entire race, for generations was lied to, and it affected them to their core. And then I started to think about my race, my gender, and how we have fallen into the same trap. We have bought into the same lie. It makes me so angry that once again, the wrong people in leadership and the loudest voice is the most destructive and non-productive.

It's time for a revolution! It's time for a movement of self-love, self-acceptance, and a new definition of beauty. I call out the photographers to start capturing beauty in all sizes and colors. I call out to the advertising company, to start appealing to the majority of people, who look nothing like the people in your magazines and ads. I call out to the mothers...stop criticizing yourself in front of your daughters. Love yourself and accept yourself and your daughters will follow suit. I call out to the fathers, tell your daughters how amazing they are every day, and tell them you are captured by their beauty!

I included an article from Dove's website at the bottom of this page. It is very enlightening and very informative. Dove's website has an action plan for those who want to get involved in this cause. I encourage you to spread the word, start talking about it in your circles of influence. Use your voice to change and shape our culture. We can make a difference, and we will.

Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem
Commissioned: June 2008
Key Findings:
Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem, commissioned by the Dove® Self-
Esteem Fund, reveals that there is a self-esteem crisis in this country that pervades every aspect of a girl’s life
including her looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members

• Seven in ten girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including
their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members

• 62% of all girls feel insecure or not sure of themselves
• 57% of all girls have a mother who criticizes her own looks
• More than half (57%) of all girls say they don’t always tell their parents certain things about
them because they don’t want them to think badly of them
• The top wish among all girls is for their parents to communicate better with them, which
includes more frequent and open conversations about what is happening in their own lives
• Reality vs. Perception: Low self-esteem significantly impacts girls’ overall feelings about their own
• 71% of girls with low self-esteem feel their appearance does not measure up, including not feeling
pretty enough, thin enough or stylish or trendy enough (compared to 29% of girls with high self-esteem)
• 78% of girls with low self-esteem admit that it is hard to feel good in school when you do not feel good
about how you look (compared to 54% of girls with high self-esteem)
• A girl’s self-esteem is more strongly related to how she views her own body shape and body
weight, than how much she actually weighs
• Girls with low self-esteem are significantly more likely to engage in negative behaviors

• 75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities such as disordered eating,
cutting, bullying, smoking, or drinking when feeling badly about themselves (Compared to 25% of
girls with high self-esteem)
• 61% of teen girls with low self-esteem admit to talking badly about themselves (Compared to 15%
of girls with high self-esteem)
• 25% of teen girls with low self-esteem resort to injuring themselves on purpose or cutting when
feeling badly about themselves (Compared to 4% of girls with high self-esteem)
• 25% of teen girls with low self-esteem practice disordered eating, such as starving themselves,
refusing to eat, or over-eating and throwing up when feeling badly about themselves (Compared to
• 7% of girls with high self-esteem)

• The self-esteem tipping point: Transition to teenage years results in loss of trust and
communication with adults

• 67% of girls ages 13 – 17 turn to their mother as a resource when feeling badly about themselves
compared to 91% of girls ages 8 – 12
• Only 27% of girls ages 13 – 17 will turn to their father for help when feeling badly about themselves
compared to the 54% of girls ages 8-12. (At 16, girls become more likely to seek support from male
peers than from their own dads)
• 65% of girls ages 13 – 17 refrain from telling their parents certain things about themselves to
prevent parents from thinking badly about them, compared to the 49% of girls ages 8 – 12

• Parents’ words and actions play a pivotal role fostering positive self-esteem in girls

• Girls with low self-esteem are less likely to receive praise from either parent and more likely to
receive criticism than girls with high self-esteem
• More than one-third (34%) of girls with low self-esteem believe that they are not a good enough
daughter (Compared to 9% of girls with high self-esteem)
• 93% of girls with low self-esteem want their parents to change their behavior towards them in at
least one way (Compared to 73% for girls with high self-esteem)
This includes:
• Wishing to be understood better (Low: 60%, High: 14%)
• Being listened to more (Low: 52%, High: 18%)
• Spending more time with them (Low: 43%, High: 15%)

About Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem
Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self Esteem, commissioned by the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, was
conducted online among 1,029 girls 8 – 17, and is representative of the U.S. based on census indicators (region, ethnicity and parental
education.) An additional 3,344 girls 8 – 17 were surveyed in a targeted study that was conducted in 20 major U.S. cities representative
of each DMA based on ethnicity and parental education. The research was conducted by StrategyOne, an applied research consulting
firm, in collaboration with Ann Kearney-Cooke, PhD.
Methodology: Interviews averaged 15 minutes and were conducted between May 6 and May 28, 2008 using the online field services of

About the Dove Self-Esteem Awareness Measurement
The Dove Self-Esteem Awareness Measurement was developed to provide an indicator of self-esteem encompassing an overall sense
of self-acceptance, confidence and emotional orientation among American girls. Each girl surveyed was assigned a score based on
how she rated herself in each of these areas. Based on their individual scores, girls were classified into three groups: high, average and
low self-esteem. The high self-esteem group was comprised of girls whose scores fell within the top third of the distribution, the average
self-esteem group included girls whose scores fell within the middle third of the distribution and the low self-esteem group included girls
whose scores fell within the bottom third of the distribution.

About Dove
The Dove mission is to make women feel more beautiful every day by challenging today's stereotypical view of beauty and inspiring
women to take great care of themselves. Dove, manufactured by Unilever, is the No. 1 personal wash brand nationwide. One in every
three households uses a Dove product,1 which includes beauty bars, body washes, face care, anti-perspirant/deodorants, body mists,
hair care and styling aids. Dove is available nationwide in food, drug and mass outlet stores.

AC Nielsen (2004)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Pro-Life Movement is the Human Rights Movement of our Day

Last night I couldn’t sleep, tossing and turning about abortion. I had read an article that was tearing Sarah Palin to shreds because she believed in a culture of life, even in the case of rape or incest. A woman wrote this article, and claimed to be on the cutting edge of feminism, power to the women! It’s amazing how someone like that can see through such a different lense than what I see things through. I would never see abortion as something that empowers women. I see abortion as a tool used by the enemy of our souls to destroy women and children. The wounding that takes place in your soul upon having an abortion can only be supernaturally healed afterwards by a loving God, but even then, the scars remain.

What makes people think that having an abortion would be less damaging to a woman than giving birth to a baby born of rape or incest? And people get up on their high horse about that issue, saying to someone who is pro-life with thick disgust in their voice, “how could you ever possibly demand a woman carry a child after she has been so horribly violated?” I would demand it because it is what is best for that woman and for her child. Ending someone’s life is never the answer. You cannot undo a wrong with another wrong.

On that same subject, let’s talk statistics. On several websites the results were conclusive, 1% of all abortions are done due to rape or incest. If I could get all the pro-choicers (or pro-abortionists) to agree that this would be the only exception to abortion, I would do it at this point. If it meant reducing the number of abortions from 1.3 million a year in this country to 13,000, yes I would agree to that. However, I would not stop there. I would keep campaigning until I got that number down to zero. Why? For so many reasons.

The first reason is this; who is fighting for baby’s rights? I’m all for women’s rights. I am a woman and I have felt the oppression against me growing up and I don’t like it. But a woman’s “right” ends when it infringes upon the rights of another human being. A baby has just as much of a right to live as a woman has the right to choose to not have sex if she doesn’t want to get pregnant. All human rights exist only when it does not negatively affect another human being’s right. As a mother of 4 boys, I know what it is to give birth to a baby, hold him in your arms, and know what kind of protection he needs. He needs me to advocate for him, he is tiny and helpless and cannot do it for himself. The same is true for him while he is inside the womb. If his own mother cannot or will not advocate for him and protect his precious life, then I must. We must.

CBS news conducted a poll in 2005 showing 53% of Americans to be pro-life. In 2006 the poll showed that number increasing to 55% ( Mainstream liberal media would have you believe that the majority of Americans are pro-choice, or pro-abortion. But they are NOT.

I have two questions I’d like to end with. To the pro-choice, pro-abortion community: Would you still fight with fervor to see abortions legal in this country if all financial gain were removed from the equation? All abortions would have to be done by volunteers and all monies raised by non-profit organizations to support the cause. I believe there would be some extremists who remain in the game because they really believe in the cause, but take away the profitable side of abortion and you would see a DRASTIC decrease in the number of abortions performed in this country every year. Don’t fool yourself that abortion has nothing to do with money.

To the pro-life community: Would you vote to end abortion if it meant that you personally would have to take in a woman in a crisis pregnancy to care for her, disciple her, encourage her, and help her raise that baby? 68.7% of women who abort their babies claim to be either protestant or catholic. That statistic is devastating to me. The church is the loudest voice in this cause and yet it is also in many cases the reason women turn to abortion. Let’s end a culture of punishment and shame and put our “money where our mouth is” to create a culture of actual help and support to women in crisis pregnancies.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Day of Love

It's that time of year again! Valentine's Day can be such a wonderful, romantic day of love. Or, it can be the most painful day of feeling not loved. Having experienced both sides of this holiday, I just wanted to give you some suggestions you may not have thought of before.

For single moms, this day and Mother's Day can be extremely difficult. If you know a single mom, even the smallest of gestures can mean so much to her on a holiday like this. Send her a rose, get her a card, help her child make her a valentine. If you want to go all out, get her a massage (something single moms almost never get to indulge in). Have her and her child(ren) over for dinner, the possibilities are endless. The same can be said for single fathers.

If you know anyone who is single but really doesn't want to be, reach out to them this Valentine's day. Let them know how loved they are, how valuable they are, and how they have so much to offer that "special someone" someday. It is especially nice to receive something at work or at home by delivery on Valentine's day. This is a day of love. It doesn't have to be limited to romantic love. Let your kids know how much you love them on V-day. Let your parents and grandparents know! Your aunts, your uncles, your cousins, let no one be excluded.

"If you have love in your life it can make up for a great many things you lack. If you don't have it, no matter what else there is, it's not enough." - Ann Landers

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Different Kind of Competition

I'm going to attempt to put together some thoughts that have been stirring in me for a while, so bear with me.

I'm currently reading "Going Rogue" by Sarah Palin. Her story is fascinating to me. I want to create a movement for women that can say "I am Sarah Palin", because there are so many of us that can relate to her. She is the entire package; mom, wife, and public servant extraordinaire. There will be more thoughts and blogs written later about her as I finish the book and go see her in person next Monday!

Anyway, back on track. As I read her story today, I stop to take time to watch one of my favorite shows, The Biggest Loser. I find a common thread between the two that I'd like to share with you all.

Why do we have this mentality when we compete that in order for us to excel, we must push others down in the process? On The Biggest Loser, people feel like they have to "play the game" and put disadvantages on others in order to propel themselves further, but guess what people? If you only focused on yourself, and worked as hard as you can possibly work (keeping your morale high and your body stress free and drama free), and you don't fall below the yellow line, YOU WIN!!! And, you don't crush others along the way who desperately need to be there with you. It's the same with politics. Why must the mud slinging be a part of our campaigns? WHY? WHY? WHY? Why can't it be about how you are most qualified for the job, PERIOD. Why does it have to be about making the other guy look like a loser, a crook, a fraud, or an idiot?

It makes me so sad to read about how this woman (Sarah) was absolutely torn to shreds by the media in the 2008 elections. She came under more scrutiny than most. It was one of the cruelest smear campaigns I have ever witnessed. Which tells me something, people (especially those who oppose her) are afraid of her. As well they should be. I don't believe we've seen the last of what this woman will accomplish in her lifetime, I believe for her it is just the beginning.

I apply this all to myself and I challenge you all in this; this week I realized I have some correcting to do in my own thinking. I was playing a game with a friend and had a fleeting thought..."I hope this time she doesn't score so high". I stopped dead in my tracks. I thought to myself, where did that thought come from? If I'm wishing, why didn't I wish for myself to get the highest score possible, why did I make it about her failing? So as I stretch myself I ask permission to stretch you in this area as well. I wonder what we can do to spread a mindset of humility that causes us to be inspired by other's successes, and saddened by other's failures, not the other way around.