By Arden Edelcup
“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” — Coco Chanel
The other night, a radical idea floated breezily through my usual self-critical thoughts: What if I just DECIDED that my flat white dimply ass was quite simply good enough just the way it is. At first the idea was comical in its absurdity. It truly defied all that we women understand to be quite simply a fact that we are never quite anything enough.
What if we were bold enough to challenge the word enough? Are we too fearful that ‘good enough’ means that we are SURRENDERING to our mediocrity?
Isn’t that why we laser and Botox and color and exercise ’til we drop? Be the best you can be by defying the ugliness of aging. I know that the greatest compliment you can give me is telling me that I don’t look my age. We are all warriors in the quest to look “better” at all costs and sadly, it’s never going to be ENOUGH — so perhaps it’s time to redefine what is enough.
Most importantly, let’s examine what we are telling our daughters when they see us frantically running to our punishing Pilates reformers and Soul Cycle classes? Are we really addicted to those feel-good endorphins, or are we trying to pedal toward an elusive perfection?
A friend recently confided that her teenage daughter bluntly admonished her with this clear statement: “Mom, you wear your workout clothes every day of the week. Can you put on REAL clothes — it’s embarrassing.”
The Mom was mortified that the message she was inadvertently sending her daughter was that keeping in shape was quite literally a full-time job.
Each of us in our own unique way sends these signals to our daughters. Last week, my 21-year-old daughter yelped in disgust over a forehead “wrinkle”. She continuously moved her forehead up and down hundreds of times just to prove its horrific existence to me. However, my opinion that she was insane fell on deaf ears because I was holding an ice pack on my Botox bruises at the time.
The tide toward self-acceptance may be beginning to change and we do have young women — vocal celebrities ike Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham to thank for that. While controversial in her raunchy and self-deprecating humor, Schumer wears her average girl looks with a badge of defiant honor. She posed naked and seductively for the 2016 Pirelli calendar that usually features 12 months of “beautiful” girls. In her photograph, Schumer is daring us to challenge her attitude that even with her imperfections she is simply BEAUTIFUL ENOUGH. I still marvel at Lena Dunham’s overt nakedness and sexuality on her hit television show, “Girls” as she dares us to watch her flaunt her physical imperfections.
Their defiant message rings out: I AM sexy enough just the way I am.
There is actually a website dedicated to the topic of female self-acceptance, aptly named http://www.yourenotprettyenough.com by author Jennifer Tress. Plagued by her own teenage insecurities, Tress articulates the challenges we face and those that our daughters need to overcome. “‘I believe that ‘pretty’ is often the trigger for negative self-talk,” Tress says. “Looks are often the laziest ways we assess ourselves and others …. being able to reach a level at which looks really don’t matter so much is the key to being a confident and successful woman. But even though the best of us know this, actually getting there remains a very difficult challenge for most women.”
A recent Yahoo Health survey revealed that a mere 34% of female teen girls have a positive self-image of their body. Those findings reflect that we still have a long way to go as mothers to create a new mantra for our daughters — a mantra that is loving and accepting and rejects all our own hyper-critical perceptions of ourselves.
As an owner of a beauty boutique, I need to play therapist for overtly distraught Moms who need a “quick fix” for their daughter’s “flaws”– bushy eyebrows/frizzy hair/bad skin — often with their teen watching in embarrassment. These well-intentioned mothers generate nervous anxiety and inadvertently FEED into their daughter’s teenage angst.
Let’s change the conversation now by being more mindful of words to describe ourselves and our daughters, who are navigating the choppy waters of adolescence toward womanhood:
– If your daughter is chubby and loses weight, shower her with compliments on how strong and healthy she looks, rather than focusing on the fact that she looks “skinnier or prettier”.
– If she is raging and hysterical about a pimple or any other real (or imagined) “horrendous flaw” — diffuse the situation with some humor, help her put the problem into perspective, and then give her some pimple cream to dab on it.
– If she impulsively decides on some radical new hair color or hair cut, applaud her confidence to be daring and original, even if you really think it’s horrendous. Take a deep breath AND take a trip down Memory Lane to your own 1980s super sexy mall bangs. Remember: Today’s awful haircut is tomorrow’s hilarious story that she can share with her own daughter one day. Let’s never take away her right to write her own story that she can reflect on (and laugh about) later.
Moms –together, let’s make the heroic attempt to shut our mouths about how much we hate our own body, skin, hair, wrinkly ass etc. in front of our daughter.
Make no mistake that she IS watching and absorbing all that we say and do.
As mothers, we truly possess the power to push back at a society that screams out to girls and to women that we are never enough when the simple truth is that we are. Believe it. Live It. Set the example: Loving OURSELVES is the best gift we will ever give our daughters.
Lisa Barr, editor of GIRLilla Warfare: Arden Edelcup, along with her hubby Earl, is the owner of Ross Highland Park, an eclectic beauty store located in Highland Park, Illinois. She is also the proud Mama of Shay, Brent and Brynn. Visit her online at Rosshighlandpark.com or in person at her store where she’d love to give you beauty advice and a smile.< back