Yesterday in the sauna at the public pool there was a Thai woman talking with a man about their weight loss efforts, a little while later I unwrapped my towel from around my waist and joined her in the spa. We started talking and she told me what a great body I have and asked me how much weight I had lost. I replied none, that after starting a new contraceptive pill a few months ago I had gained 6 kg taking me up to a size 10 – 12 (Aus), but was not that bothered by it. She talked to me about trying to lose weight and wished she could have a figure like mine, but she had a beautiful figure and I told her so.
A couple of girls probably 15 or 16 then came into the spa wearing bikinis so tiny they may as well have been strips of tape and as she watched them I could see her entire being wishing she was young like that again. I told her to try not to compare herself or her beauty to them and that it was easy to have a figure like that when you are a teenager. She laughed and agreed saying how her body is not the same since she had her two children. She asked if I had children and how old I was, I told her I had two boys and I was 35. She was dismayed to hear this and again told me what a great body I have, she then told me she was 40. I looked her in her sweet brown eyes and told her she had a beautiful figure too, that she was a beautiful woman, which she was, and that we are both women with beautiful women’s bodies, not teenagers. She stared at me shocked so I told her again that she was beautiful to which she asked sincerely, ‘do you really think so?’ I smiled and told her ‘of course, I wouldn’t have said it otherwise’. She smiled and lowered her eyes as she took in my words.
This woman was really beautiful inside and out and again I felt dis-ease at our society and the constant imagery of youth and perfection that is conveyed to us as beautiful, that a woman like her and yes a woman like me could feel so down on ourselves and not good enough or worthy enough at times. And it really saddens me. It also really saddens me that her partner and so many others don’t see and appreciate and acknowledge the beauty before them. And what a difference this would make to the women that love them.
That, as Naomi Wolf says ‘(The effect of beauty pornography in media and movies) is to keep (men) from finding peace in sexual love. The fleeting chimera of the air-brushed centrefold, always receding before him, keeps the man destabilized in pursuit unable to focus on the beauty of the woman – known, marked, lined, familiar – who hands him his coffee every morning keeps our lovers so focused on this beauty-pornography image around them that they don’t appreciate and value the beautiful woman before them. Appreciate as in add value too, which would therefore add value to their relationship together, their happiness, their sex lives etc.
That watching our partners glued to the replicate version of youthinised beauty that the media spawns detracts from us and distracts them from the way they see us and view us. And let me tell you, taking the effort to wear something nice and do your hair and make-up or put on a pretty nightgown and make yourself look and feel beautiful only to walk out to your partner in the lounge room or the bedroom while he looks around you to keep viewing a sexy ad or sexy scene in a movie, or even to watch something non-sexual, is about as much of an anti-aphrodisiac as the couple of times I had to sit myself in an ice bath after giving birth to my first child.
And it raises the issue of another epidemic that I will write about next ‘The shallow Hall complex’ that the men of our society and relationships have developed, mostly without even realising it, after being raised into men being indoctrinated by all these images of a small window of what beauty and sexy is in our mass media, that even with all their obvious physical imperfections they sit back, judge and give commentary like they could have this or that actress or singer in the flick of their fingers while neglecting their girlfriends and wives.
But until then I hope and pray that us women can start seeing and appreciating the beauty before us when we look at ourselves in the mirror and carry that confidence and belief in ourselves with us throughout our day, and that the men in our lives, our lovers and partners can start turning away from this outdated distortion of beauty that fills our televisions, billboards, shops and streets and start appreciating the beauty before them in the women they love.
Taught from infancy that beauty is woman’s sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison. – Mary Wollstonecraft
“Pay respect to womankind, as they are born of the family of the Divine Mother. Abuse or punish them not, in however a mild manner, whatever the reason. Give attention to their worth and excellences, not their shortcomings.“- Katha Upanishad (Vedic/Hindu)
“Respect and consideration for women mark the precepts. All women are to be looked upon as manifestations of the Great Mother.” – Kaulavali Nirnaya Tantra (circa 1600 CE)
“If anything is sacred the human body is sacred” Walt Whitman
“Right. I look fine. Except I don’t,’ said Zora, tugging sadly at her man’s nightshirt. This was why Kiki had dreaded having girls: she knew she wouldn’t be able to protect them from self-disgust. To that end she had tried banning television in the early years, and never had a lipstick or a woman’s magazine crossed the threshold of the Belsey home to Kiki’s knowledge, but these and other precautionary measures had made no difference. It was in the air, or so it seemed to Kiki, this hatred of women and their bodies– it seeped in with every draught in the house; people brought it home on their shoes, they breathed it in off their newspapers. There was no way to control it.” – Zadie Smith, On Beauty
I ask no favors for my sex…. All I ask of our brethren is that they will take their feet from off our necks. – Sarah Moore Grimké
“Woman’s degradation is in mans idea of his sexual rights. Our religion, laws, customs, are all founded on the belief that woman was made for man.” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton
“I think being a woman is like being Irish… Everyone says you’re important and nice, but you take second place all the time.” – Iris Murdoch
It’s important to remember that feminism is no longer a group of organizations or leaders. It’s the expectations that parents have for their daughters, and their sons, too. It’s the way we talk about and treat one another. – Anna Quindlen
The conception of worth, that each person is an end per se, is not a mere abstraction. Our interest in it is not merely academic. Every outcry against the oppression of some people by other people, or against what is morally hideous is the affirmation of the principle that a human being as such is not to be violated. A human being is not to be handled as a tool but is to be respected and revered. [From: An Ethical Philosophy of Life] – Felix Adler
I am beautiful as I am. I am the shape that was gifted. My breasts are no longer perky and upright like when I was a teenager. My hips are wider than that of a fashion model’s. For this I am glad, for these are the signs of a life lived. – Cindy Olsen, co-owner of The Body Objective
As you grow in self-esteem, your face, manner, way of talking and moving will tend naturally to project the pleasure you take in being alive. – Nathaniel Branden
“I heard what you said. I’m not the silly romantic you think. I don’t want the heavens or the shooting stars. I don’t want gemstones or gold. I have those things already. I want…a steady hand. A kind soul. I want to fall asleep, and wake, knowing my heart is safe. I want to love, and be loved.” – Shana Abé
In an unconscious marriage, you believe that the way to have a good marriage is to pick the right partner. In a conscious marriage you realize you have to be the right partner.” Harville Hendrix
“I want to be in a relationship where you telling me you love me is just a ceremonious validation of what you already show me.” – Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
An ideal wife is any woman who has an ideal husband.- Booth Tarkington
Appreciation and self-love are the most important tools that you could ever nurture. Appreciation of others, and the appreciation of yourself is the closest vibrational match to your Source Energy of anything that we’ve ever witnessed anywhere in the Universe. – Abraham
Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back. – Princess Diana
If I could give you one key, and one key only to a more abundant life, I would give you a sense of your own worth, an unshakeable sense of your own dignity as one grounded in the source of the cosmic dance, as one who plays a unique part in the unfolding of the story of the world… – Greta Crosby
Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary. – Margaret Cousins
Love is like a campfire: It may be sparked quickly, and at first the kindling throws out a lot of heat, but it burns out quickly. For long lasting, steady warmth (with delightful bursts of intense heat from time to time), you must carefully tend the fire. (2007) – Molleen Matsumura
Living with integrity means:
- Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships.
- Asking for what you want and need from others.
- Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension.
- Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values.
- Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe. – Barbara De Angelis