Take a look in a full-length mirror. Turn slowly. What do you see?
Are you tabulating a list of your “faults” and “deficiencies” rather than admiring the things that you love about yourself? If so, you are not alone.
“Though the standards change over time and across cultures, women have been judged according to their outer beauty for centuries.”
Our culture’s tireless pursuit of beauty is nothing new. Though the standards change over time and across cultures, women have been judged according to their outer beauty for centuries. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Hollywood – a microcosm of our current culture.
Here the emphasis is on young and beautiful starlets. Many of them with emaciated frames, repeated stints in rehab, and a horde of paparazzi in tow. Mature actresses typically see choice roles diminish as their youth begins to fade or their waistlines begin to expand. However, a long list of actresses and performers (including Madonna – 49; Angela Bassett – 49; Demi Moore – 45; Susan Sarandon – 61 and Sally Fields – 61) have demonstrated that being 40+ and fabulous is completely attainable. But, at what cost?
The relentless pursuit of beauty or physical “perfection” continues to claim the lives, health, and happiness of women of all ages. Women like Dr. Donda West – a noted scholar and the mother of rapper, Kanye West.
Dr. West was the former chairwoman of the Chicago State University English department and recently served as the chief executive of West Brands, LLC, the parent company of her son’s businesses. She was a bright, accomplished, 58-year-old woman. Yet, like many of us, there were things about her body that she was unhappy with. Things she wanted to change. She consulted a plastic surgeon about getting a breast reduction and a tummy tuck.
While the details of what happened in the weeks before and the subsequent cause of Donda West’s death are not completely clear, it is obvious that she had some misgivings about the procedures. Both doctors indicate that she seemed to have a repeated change of heart before finally opting to move forward with the surgery. Donda died of cardiac arrest that may have resulted from surgical complications following her elective surgeries.
Her heartbreaking death has opened a floodgate of stories of plastic surgery catastrophes suffered by other women and their families. Women who went under the knife healthy and beautiful, but emerged from the operating room scarred, disfigured, traumatized, or dead.
“But, as mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, and neighbors we each have the responsibility of helping other women discover and appreciate their inner and outer beauty, too.”
Women of every age range – from pre-teen to late life adults – feel pressured to pursue Hollywood’s airbrushed, retouched, unattainable standard of beauty by any means necessary. Cosmetic creams and injections, permanent make-up, and plastic surgery all have their place and every woman has the right to employ them if she wishes. However, many of us resort to such drastic measures as salve for a much deeper problem. A lack of confidence and self-esteem or even a degree of self-hatred. Problems that cannot be remedied with a scalpel or a needle.
Learning to appreciate the unique beauty that we possess – both inside and outside – is critical to every woman’s emotional health and happiness. But, as mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, and neighbors we each have the responsibility of helping other women discover and appreciate their inner and outer beauty, too.
Now, step back in front of the mirror. Turn to the left. Then to the right. What is it that you love about your body? About yourself? Make a list of those things and remind yourself of them often. There are lots of causes worth dying for. Achieving someone else’s standard of beauty simply isn’t one of them.