You remember the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It’s one of the most popular princess movies of all time. And of course, who can forget the queen’s famous catchphrase: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” When the mirror tells her that Snow White is her competition, the queen plots her rival’s murder, which ultimately leads to her own demise.
It sounds silly, doesn’t it? A queen so vain that she’s willing to kill someone just to be the most glorious person in the land. She would have been the fairest, but she was also the most insecure.
What do you say to yourself when you look in the mirror?
Most women, like the queen, have serious self-confidence issues, including yours truly. Now, I don’t think there are any women out there plotting brutal murders. I do, however, believe that we are plagued by lies that have become commonplace in our society yet they have been set as the standard for success. And if we don’t measure up, we are clearly unworthy.
How many of you look at yourselves and only see your physical “imperfections”? A little too much around the waist, too many lines around your eyes, some gray hairs. I’m going to sound like a hypocrite because I have problems with this too, but let me just tell you this:
Embrace it, baby.
Seriously. Give yourself a big hug. You deserve it.
That extra skin you’ve got from enjoying that second piece of cake: you were allowing yourself to indulge in some of life’s simple pleasures. Or from emotional overeating: you needed comfort; don’t we all? Or from pregnancy: you brought children, new souls, into this world. Or from a surgery: you made it through and you’re alive. Those extra lines around your face: no one should ever be accused of smiling too much. Those gray hairs: you’ve lived and you’ve acquired wisdom, something that is revered in many cultures.
How many of you look at yourselves and see your parental “imperfections”? Kids that won’t stop crying, a house that’s always a mess, dinners that come from takeout containers more often than from the oven.
Embrace that chaos! And while you’re at it, embrace yourself!
Those crying kids: they still need you, and those cries can help remind you that you still have a purpose not only as a parent but also just as a human being. That house that’s always messy: it’s lived in. It’s a home where people feel comfortable, and YOU created that cozy environment. That takeout dinner: you’re giving yourself an extra break to focus on more important things like just being there for your kids as a parent and not as a cook or a maid.
How many of you look at yourselves and see your career “imperfections”? That meeting you were late to, the work that’s piling up, the promotion you didn’t get.
Chin up, dear! Hug yourself and those challenges you’re facing really tightly!
That meeting: don’t worry; there will be others. You were late because you expect too much of yourself and have stretched yourself a little too far. So you’re ambitious! That’s awesome! You’re discovering your strengths and weaknesses. That work that’s piling up: that shows that a lot of people value what you do and want your help because they trust you. That promotion: it sucks, it really does. But maybe you have more to learn where you are, and that’s never a bad thing. Or maybe there’s something even better waiting for you. Chalk it all up to experience!
I love the line from Dr. Seuss, “Today you are you; that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”
There is no one else out there like you! Think about that. You are the only you there is. You have talents and gifts and abilities that only you possess, and you can use those to leave a unique stamp on this world. Because of you, someone else’s life can be enriched.
Another one of my favorite quotes is, “Who is wise? Those who learn from everyone.” (I paraphrased to make it more inclusive of those who aren’t men.) 😉
A teacher of mine explained that wise saying to me as everyone has a uniqueness, something that no one else has. And it is up to that person to teach it to someone else. The mark of a true teacher is not one that simply lights a candle that flickers but one that nurtures the flame until it rises on its own. Only then can your student become a teacher.
We live in a society that tells women they have to do it all: look like a supermodel, have the best possible career, marry an equally successful husband, and raise 2.5 perfect, well-behaved children who are supposed to be prodigies.
Look at all the advertisements out there. Want to get rid of your wrinkles? Your gray hair? That extra flab? The stretch marks? Want to stop the aging process altogether?
Now if you feel insecure and those products help you feel better about yourself: go for it, girl! Just do it for yourself, not to please anyone else. You’re the one that has to live in your body; only you can determine what will make you happy with it.
What about all the pressure women have from society expecting them to be the perfect mothers, the primary caretakers of their homes, husbands, and children? Thankfully, we’re seeing more men stepping up and actually taking responsibility for the mess they helped make in their homes and raising the children they helped create. (Seriously, dudes; your job didn’t stop after the fun part.)
Have you looked at job postings recently? Apparently the only jobs that are available that pay well and have good benefits are the ones you should’ve started honing the skills for when you were in junior high.
We cannot allow others’ perceptions of us to determine our realities. And so this begs the question:
Who is the biggest liar of us all?
Is it society? Or is it ourselves?
Society has definitely lied to us since the beginning of time. But if we choose to believe it, when we know better than anyone else what we’re capable of, then we’ve become even bigger liars.
This is why things like the Dove Campaign’s “Like a Girl” and Microsoft’s “Make What’s Next” have become not just important but necessary. We have to counteract the lies that have permeated society and promote the truth:
We’re beautiful, regardless of whether or not we can rock a bathing suit like a Baywatch lifeguard.
We’re strong, because we face these lies and all the pressure head on, even though we feel like giving up.
We’re intelligent, because we take the uniqueness we each possess and nurture it so that we can share that gift with the world, who so desperately needs what we have to offer.
You define what success is. Only you know what’s most important to you, and only you know what you need to do to foster that love and make it your reality.
And so far, you’re doing an amazing job!
So let’s hear it for the girls! We’ve earned it.
Peace, Prosperity, and Organic Photovoltaics,
Chic Geek and Chemistry Freak