I have to vent a little on this post. I said in an earlier blog this particular subject would come up again with me. And now it has…such a dichotomy of thoughts on what I want to express here. The subject is a woman, and the issue is our self-worth.
So where does one start with this? History has shown, and still shows to this day, women are often valued based on “self-worth.” Until the early 21st century, a woman didn’t have a true place outside the home and was considered “worthy” based on the amount of dowry she could bring to a marriage. Thankfully most of that has changed in modern times. We have seen the rise of women’s liberation, breaking the glass ceiling and even women holding high-ranking leadership positions throughout the world. This being said, why do we, as women, still fall into the trap of defining ourselves by our worth? Why do we focus so hard on the numbers on a scale? Why do we care whether or not we look a certain way or play a certain role in our life?
It surrounds use everywhere, images of beautiful women on billboards, buses, in magazines and newspapers. We see them on television, perfect visions of the ideal female body. Perfect hair, teeth, clothes, you name it and these women have it. But do they? It is basic marketing and advertising to promote a product. Sex sells, right? Hasn’t that been the slogan of American advertising companies (including Hollywood pictures) to get consumers to buy products or go see a movie? Catchy phrases and slogans are used to lure women and men into the marketplace to purchase the “next best thing.” It’s a consumer’s world, and I truly love it all. But you have to look at these things with jaded goggles. You have to know which is fact and which is fiction.
I majored in communication studies at Vanderbilt, so I did a lot of reading and writing. I loved this major mainly because it brought me out of my small town shell and into the real world of thinking and feeling. My professors pushed me to really dive head first into the words I read in speeches (ranging anywhere from Washington’s Inaugural Address to Martin Luther King’s speeches-there are more than just THE ONE). I loved hearing these individuals and all their ideals. The moments that changed their lives and made them better people, better thinkers and better ideologists. I loved these words because it helped me think more about who I was and who I WANTED to be in this world.
It brings me back to dealing with the mindset I find in my own sex. The belief that, despite how strong we may appear on the outside, we still fall prey deep down in our psyche to numbers and self-worth ideals. And I am just as guilty as the woman next to me in line at Target.
Let’s face it; I am a total consumer in today’s modern age. I love gadgets, read tabloids and watch Entertainment Television. I do admit reality TV is something I truly despise. I can’t stomach watching people make complete fools of themselves and believe they are not acting out a pre-scripted role. Reality? Not hardly, especially when there is a camera following you around the room. Think about it-when you get that sudden interview for a local news channel and the camera is shoved in your face, how do you act? No way close to natural, right? But I digress…
I have amazing friends in my life, and they all help me in one way or the other. We support one another, hear the laughter and share the tears. Yet each time we get together I can’t help but notice how the conversation always turns to the latest diet, what our weight is, or how we wish we looked this way or that way. Lusting over body types and how much we want to fit “back into our old size.” Talking about the latest failure in the kitchen (I ate a pan of brownies or devoured a sleeve of Thin Mints), it seems these women (myself included) boil the conversations down to how little we feel our self worth is in life. And every time I leave a dinner or social gathering with my friends I find myself shaking my head and having to tell myself there is more to life than what came up in our conversations. We are all strong, independent women with families and responsibilities. Some of us work outside the home, which adds to the pressures faced each day. Yet we all still boil down to numbers on a scale or feeling we should fit a certain “mold.” It makes my heart ache a little to think it, even type it.
So that is what I am here to say in this piece-to remind each and every one of us (myself included) that our self worth is more than just a number on the scale, a size plastered on a pair of designer jeans or an image of what we “wish” we could be in life. There are so many examples, so many instances where I want to shake the individual in front of me and scream to the person “You are more than this!” But I don’t, and instead try and offer the most supportive advice and motivation I can. I have dealt with that battle, the feeling of needing to measure up to the person beside me, to fit an ideal. And I am over it. Can I scream that now? I AM OVER IT! I know who I am inside and out. I know my weaknesses and my strengths. It has taken a lot of time and hard confrontations to realize this, but I am thankful for each and every one of them. I have handled weight issues, eating “issues” and trying to fit into a certain mold. But you know what, it really isn’t what matters at the end of the day. What matters is the knowledge that my children are safe and healthy, my family is happy and that I am doing whatever is in my power to make sure I remain on this earth to take care of them all. Not because it is what society expects me to do, but because I want to be there. I want to share in the memories and pass on to my children whatever knowledge I have to offer. This is what life is really about, making a difference outside of our “self” and fighting tooth and nail against what is typically expected of our sex.
I am not a radical person, just a realistic individual who is tired of the fight waged against my sex. I am over the feeling that I am not “enough” simply because I don’t work outside the home or volunteer enough at my kids school. I do the best that I can each and every day, and some days I make huge mistakes while other days I conquer the world. It would be this way whether I had a 9-5 job or continue the “domestic diva” role I currently hold. I guess what I am saying is I own up to what I do, find the things in life that make me happy, give fuel to my ambition and try to keep myself balanced.
I am over the feeling that I need to look a certain way. I like my own style, bright colors and things that make me feel comfortable. I don’t wear things to impress those around me; I wear things that make me feel GOOD! If it is considered revealing or out of the ordinary, I don’t care. It is my style, what I move freely in and what I like. I know my body and I know my limits. So I go with it and choose not to sweat the small stuff. In the end, it doesn’t really matter because I get up the next day to see the sweet smiles of my babies saying “good morning mommy.” I get a kiss or hug from my husband, and yes I bring him coffee every morning along with my own cup. These are the things that really matter.
Sure I will have moments when I think a dress may fit a little too tight, or I should lay off the dessert for a few days and let my body recoup. But I am finished with counting calories, analyzing every single thing that goes in my mouth because it truly makes life miserable. As I have found, life it way too short to sweat the small stuff. So here is what I want you to do, if you feel inclined. Throw away the damn scale (go by how your clothes FEEL). When you eat food, really taste its flavors and enjoy what it has to offer your palate. How does the food make your body feel? Listen to what it tells you and you will discover the things that make your own being function on a healthy day-to-day basis. Forget trying to fit into a certain mold; instead find what makes you feel good about yourself; what makes your body run the way it should.
Some people may see me as a health freak, or weight-conscious individual who worries about appearances. But really, I am not. I do love going to the gym because of the mental release I experience, plus the challenge I can place on myself when I am there. I need that challenge to exist on a daily basis. I also love food and cooking. I enjoy the stuff that isn’t so good for me because I know I also give my body enough of the things that make it feel good. Balance-that is what I have FINALLY learned. It has been a long, hard road, but I am getting it a little more each day.
So you see, I am not perfect, nor do I want to be perfect. I am the person I want to be, I am getting comfortable in my own skin. And it has been a long and arduous road to get to this point. But I am so thankful to be here and hopefully can exude some of it on my fellow mates.
Those who know me know I love wine. Wine is something I can never give up; it’s just a part of my individuality. And I love learning about it each and every day. In fact, my wine tip of the day comes from a great magazine article in the latest Wine Spectator. The article is about Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, the French matriarch of one of the leading vineyards in the world. Her family has produced award-wining wines from their vineyards in Bordeaux since 1853. If you haven’t had the chance to taste a Mouton-Rothschild or Lafite-Rothschild, I hope you get it. The wines are outstanding and always hold up to the Rothschild standard of winemaking.
Interestingly enough, Philippine’s father, Baron Philippe Rothschild, did not believe women had a place in the world. Yet, here is his daughter holding court over a multi-million dollar business for over 20 years. She has helped the Rothschild name grow into the 21st century, expanding the family’s business interests across International Waters. If you get a chance, you should read the article or do some research on this incredible woman. Pick up the latest copy of Wine Spectator or search the Baroness and her wines online. There are many subsidiary wineries and joint ventures that won’t drain your wallet but still offer the Rothschild quality.
And for further enlightenment on your journey, here are a few books that I have read along the way; hopefully they will make the same impact on you as they did on me. Forgive me if I get the bibliography wrong. I am a bit rusty and blowing the dust off my Bedford Handbook from college.
Bordo, Susan. Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture and the Body.
California: University of California Press, 1993.
Bordo, Susan. Twilight Zones: The Hidden Life of Cultural Images from Plato to O.J.
California: University of California Press, 1997.
Sadeghi, Dr. Habib. WITHIN: A Spiritual Awakening of Love & Weight Loss.
Los Angeles: Premier Digital Publishing, 2013.
Bradley Bayou. The Science of Sexy. New York: Gotham Books, 2007.