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Thursday, January 24, 2013



A Cure for the
“FeelingUgly-itis"

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 Vogue China

 There isn’t another proverbial stone left to be uncovered when it comes to the subject of “Females and the Relationship with their Appearance.” Scores of articles, books, and films have portrayed women and their inner battles with self-esteem and perceived beauty.  
As I’ve mentioned in October’s Book Review (“Beauty Pageants” by Libba Bray—please click on the “BEAUTY” label below to view it), “it’s obvious that I am neither the first nor the last to blather about this subject. In fact, as many of you know, this particular feminine issue has been to driven to the ground, beaten to the pulp, and then boomeranged itself back to earth.”
         Yet, I still choose to mention this, because a month ago, I fell prey to this very bait: that antagonizing voice that persisted I was “unattractive.” That voice…that accursed voice…it trickled through the hills and valleys of my brain and echoed with every quiver of my insecure heart.
 
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PAUL STAHR (American, 1883-1953). Girl in Red Beret Looking into Compact Mirror, Saturday Evening Post cover
 
        It began with a couple of innocent photo shots of me. A relative of mine stood there poised and proud with her new Cannon. She excitedly snapped pictures of me flipping my hair a la Pantene commercial, taking a sip of tea, twirling my flared skirt and then losing my balance, blinking at her uncertainly.
 
        It was a hodgepodge of both purposeful and candid photos.
       She e-mailed me the album and when I clicked to download it, I began to feel that rather odd mixture of dread and anticipation. The photos popped on screen. I quickly felt my spine collapse and my lips folding against each other in despair. There they were. Those pictures.
 
        I was left to ponder “is it possible for a nose to gain weight?” and “why do my cheeks look like they’re hiding a family of small kittens?” Surely, this was not me. That girl you see in those photos. Yeah, she’s the alternate me that exists somewhere exotic, like say, Jupiter. But she is not me.
      After a couple of seconds, my ridiculous, delusional “she is not me” mantra exploded and revealed a wide-nosed, “healthycheeked" reality.  I became a disheartened mess over the next few days. In fact, I was suffering from an acute case of the “FeelingUgly-itis."

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Painting by Lisa Falzon
      When I walked from the bathroom to my bedroom and from the kitchen to the den, I would pause by the nearest mirror without fail. My daily schedule seemed to be “pray, mirror, breakfast, mirror, laundry, mirror, shopping in Rite Aid, mirror…”

      This devious spell had to be broken. I had to resist in examining my every flaw and subsequently melting into a freshly self-conscious puddle each time.

      The day arrived for me to type up a few motivational truths regarding WOMEN AND SELF-PERCEPTION/ BEAUTY. Ready? Okay, here goes:

#1 STOP allowing your mind to deceive you and concoct all kinds of lies until you’re convinced that THIS is what you look like:
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 Painting by Pablo Picasso
 
Of course it is extremely vital to prioritize your health and work out, but that’s where the buck stops. Right there. Avoid the temptation of standing in front of the mirror and criticizing yourself like so:

(C’mon! I just had to insert that Mean Girls reference)
AND even if you do have flaws (welcome to the human race!) attempt to discover the poetic beauty or humor in them.
For instance, got a schnozzle? Realize that the sense of scent is one of the most spiritual forces in Jewish teachings. G-d breathed life into Adam’s NOSTRILS. We part ways with our “Shabbat Soul” by smelling fragrance during Havdalah. The larger the nose, the larger the soul...eh? Interestingly, I once met an individual who was only attracted to people with big noses. She was a lovely young woman and she strongly stated “I LOVE big noses.” Realize that the feature you despise the most about yourself, can actually be the feature that gets your significant other’s heart pounding. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is an eye-rolling platitude for a darn good reason. It’s oozing with truth.
 
#2
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You already know that I’m an avid J. Crew devotee and if I could afford to, I would pack up my purse and relocate there. Yet, what I truly admire about this brand is that they often scorn perfection. If you skim through their catalogs, then you’ll soon realize that the model’s hair can be playfully tousled, a blouse sloppily tucked into a skirt, or that her belt is skewed. I began to get into the habit of tilting my belt off center by the way, because perfection is becoming…well…so passé.
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#3 "NOTHING MAKES A WOMAN MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN THE BELIEF THAT SHE IS BEAUTIFUL."
- Sophia Loren
 
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Document this in your journal, print it in CAPS LOCK and hang it on your wall, record this line on your cell phone and press play about twenty times...Do what you gotta do to drill this into your head.
#4 Ah, Diana Vreeland! Along with the revered J.K. Rowling, she is my heroine. Due to her joie de vivre, sheer innovation, and astuteness, she was able to proclaim many brilliant maxims throughout her life. This is one of them:
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"You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked "female"."
Now, take THAT society!
 
# 5 “Do NOT Read Beauty Magazines—They Will Only Make You Feel Ugly.”
- Baz Luhrmann, “The Sunscreen Song”
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Painting by Norman Rockwell, 1954
Okay, I know this may appear hypocritical being that I’m a Fashion blogger and what-not—BUT I  try my best to only pay attention to the clothes—not the Gisele Bundchens of the world who are wearing them. At any rate, the more one endeavors to avoid run-of-the mill “5”10, buff, half-naked, tanned people” ads, the healthier his/her self-image will be.
MY PARTING WORDS ON THIS MATTER?
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 AND SO ARE YOU, AND YOU, AND YOU. Now don't roll eyes at me dear...You know it's true.

UNTIL NEXT TIME!
 

5 comments:

  1. Some marriage advice - you do owe prettiness to your spouse.

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  2. Beauty, or whatever the current cultural standards for it, cannot be helped: one is born with what is born with. Yet, to quote Princess Bride, there is potential, which can be helped by cosmetics, skincare, and a good night's sleep. The latter is what one can provide a spouse, taking care with their appearance, which in turn makes one feel pretty, which makes one look attractive to their hubbie.

    But it would also be nice if the husband would look pretty for his wife as well . . .

    I always get annoyed how women place their worth in looking beautiful. Men don't define themselves based on their looks, unless they make their living off of them. Why is it that we gals are constantly tripped up by how others view our superficial appearance, whether others find it pleasing or not? We have to change our vocabulary.

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  3. Yes...as always you're spot on Princess Lea. Bezrat Hashem, we'll teach our daughters that their worth is NOT dependent on their looks. And Masha, I agree with the whole "you should look pretty for your husband" thing. It's a Jewish concept as well. The women in Egypt had their mirrors and what-not, and in the end the "Kior" was made from those mirrors. But I don't have a husband right now, so technically I don't owe prettiness to anyone...MWHAHAHAHA! But I choose to look after myself anyways because it makes ME feel good. Bottom line.

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  4. It's good to do it for yourself, but on those days you feel like you don't care - you still gotta do it for your husband.

    I don't know where people got the idea that men don't need to look good for their wives. Of course they do! Of course, for women looking good may require more work. But most of us also enjoy the process, it's our nature.

    Ugly-itis is an emotional state, and not much related to your actual looks, or cultural trends.

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  5. Well said Masha. Well said. "Ugly" IS usually an emotional state.

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