Real Beauty

Every now and then I hear or see something that stops me cold. A few days ago I was about to flip off the TV and get to the business of solving plot riddles when I saw an attractive woman with her handsome husband on a morning news program, and heard the interviewer say something about the woman’s bold move to gain more self confidence. Yep, that got my attention. Instead of turning the TV off, I backed up the DVR a few seconds and turned up the volume.

There sat this couple, married close to ten years with two kids. The woman, attractive and youthful looking, the kind who could easily appear on one of those reality shows or the cover of a fashion magazine, revealed that, nearing forty, she wanted a little more self confidence, to feel pretty again. So she turned to plastic surgery, having her breasts lifted and implants inserted, her eyes lifted. They showed before and after pictures, and other than the lack of makeup and a smile in the before picture, I really didn’t see a dramatic different. She was pretty before, and she’s pretty after.

I sat there not quite sure how I felt about what I was seeing and hearing, as her smiling husband talked about how happy he was with the results, that of course it didn’t change how much he loved her, but maybe he might love certain parts of her a little more now. And she had this big adoring smile on her face, even as she talked about her allergy to the post-surgery antibiotics and how the prednisone she had to take led to a post-partum like depression, that she was sad and crying all the time, that it was awful. The interviewer shook her head sympathetically and asked if all that was worth the results, and both the wife and the husband said yes, absolutely.

And I…I’m still sitting there, staring, finally keying in on what I’m feeling. It was a whole progression of emotions actually.

At first I was a woman blown away by the decision to have plastic surgery to gain  more self confidence.  I mean, there was nothing wrong with this woman. Most of us would love to look like her. And while I totally get the desire to look as good as you can, I think it was her talking about self confidence, about needing to have a bikini body makeover in order to feel good about herself, that got to me. All these thoughts flitted through my mind like, what about learning a second language or volunteering at a shelter, planting a garden or learning a new skill or hobby? I have a fabulous cousin who learned sign language, just because. There’s no one deaf among her family or friends, but she decided to learn anyway, and that decision has altered her life is so many wonderful and beautiful ways. Her life is fuller and richer, and yeah, I’m pretty sure she has more confidence and feels better about herself.

And the woman’s husband…wow. I wanted so badly for him to say he loved her for the woman she was, for her heart and her soul and her sense of humor, or her dedication to their children, whatever. I wanted him to say that she was beautiful inside and out, or that as beautiful as she is on the outside, she’s even more beautiful on the inside, or something. Something other than that maybe he loved parts of her more now. Was he joking? Maybe Probably. Or maybe not. It made me sad.

Then, as quickly as all those thoughts hit me, I realized how judgmental of me that seemed, that it’s this woman’s life and body and everything else, and the decisions she makes are hers to make. I’m a big believer in that. We’re all different, and we all have to live our own lives the best way we can. So armed with that thought, my thoughts and feelings shifted from this woman’s decisions to society at large. What kind of world do we live in, what kind of messages are we sending out, that drive a woman, a perfectly beautiful woman, to feel like she needs plastic surgery to feel good about herself? Whatever the answer is, it’s the same world that drives vibrant and intelligent young women to starve or purge themselves in the pursuit of “the perfect body,” or already talented athletes to take illegal substances to be even bigger and better. It’s all so phony and false, this extreme value we put on appearance, which is, in reality, little more than window dressing. We aren’t our bodies. Our bodies are vessels for what’s inside.  But the constant glorification of super thin women and unnaturally buff men, as pleasing as they can be to look at, tend to make us focus on the packaging, rather than what’s inside.

So finally, after mulling all that over (and with my plot riddles still waiting), the mom in me took over, the mother of a wonderful eight-year-old daughter (and aunt to three amazing teenage nieces), and I found myself sad at the thought of this world that they’re marinating in and the possibility of any of them ever thinking they needed to go under the knife to gain self confidence and be okay with who they are.

We all age. Our bodies change. It’s inevitable. I see signs of that every morning. But one of the discoveries that has surprised me the most about the mounting years is that despite the changes on the outside, inside I’m still me.  I’m a married mom of two young kids now, but I don’t feel any different than I did the weekend I met my husband. I still like to listen to loud music and sing off-key. I still like to tease and joke around. I still like to run and hate to go first. I’m still a sucker for a challenge or a dare, and I still get all wrapped up in my emotions and sometimes blow like a powder keg. That part of me doesn’t age. That part of me is timeless. All it’s the part  that matters, that defines you. Not your breast size or depth of your crow’s feet.

Who you are on the inside is imminently more important, imminently more sustainable, than what the mirror shows.

I’m not standing in judgment of anyone. I’m not trying to preach. I’m not even against plastic surgery or other techniques to hold time at bay (hello, facials!). I have friends and relatives who’ve had adjustments made, each for their own reasons. We all have needs and goals, fears and dreams. And what I saw on the news that morning left me thinking about my dream for my daughter, and my goal as her mother.

I don’t want my daughter in thirty years to need to look into a mirror and see a twenty-five-year-old order in order for her to feel good about herself. I don’t want her to have to look into a mirror, period, to feel good about who she is.  I want that feeling to swell up from inside her. I want her to focus on the passions that drive her, the juxtaposition of intensity and tenderness, her sense of right and wrong and her love of animals and music and art.  I want her to always know the man who loves her loves her for who she is on the inside, not because of her breast size or shape, or the shape of her nose or fullness of her mouth.

That is my challenge, as my daughter’s mother. To teach her what matters. To celebrate all the wonderful traits and quirks that make her who she is. And to make sure she knows that the real gift, the truest, most authentic beauty, resides inside the packaging.

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43 thoughts on “Real Beauty

  1. I’m not going to leave a long comment, because I fear it would get incredibly ranty, and I’m not in as good a place as you are to refrain from judging. Plastic surgery for self-esteem is one of my hot-button issues, especially as I have a degree in clinical psychology.

    I feel your pain, though, and cringe every time my daughter (6 years old) looks in the mirror and then asks if she’s pretty. Or when she loses another tooth and says she looks “ugly.” It breaks my heart. I pray that I’ll be able to instill in her some confidence, not only with her body, but also with her mind/personality. She’s so smart, and I never want her to stop nurturing her mind in favor of vanity. Since she’s in school now, I worry about the influences she has there, when I’m unable to monitor what’s said. I never wished I was home-schooling more. I won’t, because I know she needs the other perspectives on life that she can only get from peers, but still, I’m not looking forward to damage control.

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    • Yes, Noelle. YES. I’m right there with you. I don’t want to come off as judgmental or preachy, but something inside of me literally hurt as I listened to this woman talk about going under the knife to have self esteem, and all I could think about is my sweet daughter and doing whatever I can to make sure she feels good about who she is as a person, on the inside. And you’re right about influences at school. Suddenly they’re exposed to all sorts of new stuff and new people, which is good in that THAT is the real world, but wow, the Real World isn’t always a nice place. My son came home from preschool last year with the habit of lifting his hands like a gun and making these sound effects, as if he’s shooting people. Now, I know he’s a boy and boys will be boys and I’m more or less okay with that, but we don’t go around pretend shooting each other in our house, and we don’t watch any kind of shoot-em-up shows on TV, and it broke my heart a little to have my son lift his hands and “shoot me” because he was mad at me. THAT is when real parenting begins.

      Years ago I went to an Emotional Intelligence seminar and the presenter talked about the world in terms of a pond and frogs. You can have a perfectly healthy frog, but if you put that frog in a pond that is stagnant or contaminate, that froggie is going to get sick. You can take them out and help them heal, but if they go back into that sick pond, they will get sick again, unless they have an immune system strong enough to protect them. All these years later, and that has stuck with me.

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      • Noelle, do a little more research into homeschooling, and you’ll see that kids who are homeschooled are psychologically more stable than any other teen population–and that statistic goes through college. There’s a misperception that they’re removed from their peers–not so. Most homeschooling families have kids who are SO linked in to their communities, it’s fabulous.

        Most people don’t know this–or don’t want to hear it. Not everyone has the option to homeschool, so it’s easier to say, “Oh, yeah, they’ll be so isolated, and they’ll never figure out how to deal.” Again, academic research backs up everything I just said in that first paragraph.

        I homeschooled only for a year and a half, when my two oldest were in third and second grade, and wish I had done it much longer. My daughter told me her eating disorder roots began in middle school with taunting from other girls (because she was 5’8″ when she was eleven). She wanted to “shrink.” The actual disorder didn’t start until she was a junior in high school–when she was surrounded by so many girls obsessed with their bodies and having to look like svelte cheerleaders. She was at the top of her class academically, but the cultural and social pressure to be that Barbie girl took its toll on her–and let me tell you, she’s a tough cookie.

        The beauty problem is huge. Our girls are losing out big-time in the current culture where looks are everything, according to TV, magazines, and what they observe in school.

        The great thing about homeschooled kids is that they’re able to deal not only with their peers but with older and younger people as well–they might be in the community orchestra, have a little job at the neaby camera shop–they can handle their business with anyone, so when it comes to peer pressure, they can fling it off.

        So if that’s something you really want to do, try it. We went through horrible pressure from our families not to, and now they regret how miserable they made us at the beginning. But we were homeschooling when hardly anyone was. Nowadays, it’s so common!

        Best of luck to you with your daughter,

        Kieran :>)

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  2. Your post didn’t feel ranty or judgmental, but more like a battle cry and I hear you! As someone who has struggled with self-esteem my entire life because of my physical appearance, I see when like that and those tools they’re married to and I just to slap some sense into her. I mean get over yourself! I agree, there are certain things that can be done for whatever reason, but women who go in for the whole body overhaul b/c they don’t look like they did when… I don’t know whether or not to hope she has daughters or sons b/c frankly the message left on either is not a great one. And like you said, there are so many other, and better ways, to life your spirits, feel confident, etc.

    Well said, Ellie, and clearly it’s best you wrote this blog and not me. 🙂

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    • Robyn, I’ve struggled with self-esteem my whole life, too. There are many reasons for that, reasons I won’t get into here, at least not now. When my husband met me all those years ago, he couldn’t believe how little self confidence I had. He saw a me far different than I saw–and than my previous boyfriend, who constantly ran me down (you’re a horrible person! you’re the most miserable person I’ve ever known!), saw. It’s still far too easy for me to wither, but these days that comes more from mommy and writing moments than the smile wrinkles fanning out from my eyes, or the scale creep after a weekend of guacamole indulgence. It’s because of all this that I want to help create a different, healthier future for my daughter. I don’t want her to ever feel loathing for herself, particularly because of her appearance. I suppose a little insecurity isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if it drives us to continue developing as a person. But I don’t want her self worth to ever be predicated by what she sees in the mirror, because THAT is NOT who she is.

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  3. One other thing I wanted to add, a “crystalized” thought that came to me as I was walking my daughter to school this morning. Our bodies age. The way we look is temporary. if we predicate how we feel about ourselves over something that won’t last, we’re only setting ourselves up for angst later on. But what’s inside us, our values and talents and morals, that lasts. That endures 🙂 You don’t wake up at 45 and suddenly realize you no longer value friendship or love the way it feels when someone puts their arms around you, squeezes tight, and says thank you.

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  4. Like so many other families, this is a common topic of discussion in our home. It’s a lesson we work to instill in our children, not just for themselves but also in relation to how they treat others. The old “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” premise. I want my children’s happiness, now & in the future, to be based on their interests & accomplishments…not on society’s ideals.
    I wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts. I didn’t feel that they were judgmental. I, too, feel that everyone has their own choice to make. I just wish that society was a little less set in its “ideals”, so that our children could spend more time discovering who they are & less time worrying about being cool or pretty.

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    • I couldn’t agree more, Michelle, especially about the society part. I still can’t figure out why this was on the national news. If anything, this was that woman’s personal decision. I’d so much rather see segments on the news about people who make a difference, about women who follow their dreams and children who run with their imagination. A few reality shows have flirted with that concept, but they always seem to deteriorate into something else. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a reality show every week featuring someone who courageously followed their dreams? Does something like that exist?

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  5. I’m applauding. Yes, yes, yes to all that. We are a youth-obsessed culture. Too often, we privilege the superficial from skin elasticity to cash flow, and we support the culture in a myriad of ways beyond the more overt paying for plastic surgery. We pay more for skin care products that Consumer Reports has proven – year after year- don’t do anything more than the original Oil of Olay that came in a pink jar. We are brand conscious, status conscious and tied to living beyond our means, even as we go broke paying for the too-big house. I’d love to see us do better… I’d love to do better myself and step away from the fancy make up counter :-). But I think it’s a good first step to be aware of the problem and the part we play in it.

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    • Thank you, Joanne. Your comment about being youth-obsessed really hit home with me. That’s something I think about a lot, how we, as a society, tend to view aging as something to be feared, rather than celebrated. More and more I tend to think about life like a good wine…it just gets better with age. And hey, to throw in another cliche’: going against the current is always far more difficult, far more risky than going with the current 🙂

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    • Yeah, that part left me feeling sad, too. I still can’t figure out why they were on national television talking about that.

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  6. Perhaps it is a reflection of the kind of man she is with? Perhaps that what we need to teach our daughters…to chose well in addition to loving themselves inside and out. Wonderful post….our society has warped they way we look at things sadly. Jen xx

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    • Yes…yes! That’s another blog I’m toying with: what is love? What does it feel like? How do you separate it from lust? How do you know when it’s real and sustaining? Some of the crap I see my sweet nieces going through (and putting up with!) makes me nutty. I just want to yank them away from some of these jackasses and protect them…but I know I can’t. All I can do is try to help them understand that they are the designers of their own life, and THEY get to decide how they will and won’t be treated.

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        • Love the blog, and love your son’s poem/song! Too cute. My little girl had a “true love” in preschool, but she sadly announced she couldn’t marry him anymore (she was 5), after he lied to her about something (I no longer remember what). She was crushed, but I assured her that was a wise decision, that trust is vital. To this day (she’s almost 9), she absolutely cannot any form of lying. In fact, I’m working to teach her the difference between being wrong and lying 🙂

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          • Oh yes that is a battle. I am the same…I can’t stand lies. Felix is 9 now too and can be a bit of a fibber. They all blame each other for stuff…I beat it out of them (kidding). I think it’s definitely worth the hard work even though they don’t see it at the time. Jen

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  7. Like you, I don’t want to judge someone for doing what they think will make them more “confident”. But what I’m sad about is that it’s so many people’s go-to for confidence – how high our boobs sit or how smooth our skin is. I mentioned this on a post someone did recently on dreading the number of their next birthday, but it applies here too. My aunt passed away a few years ago very suddenly at age 38. One day she was here, seemingly healthy, the next day she was gone from some underlying heart condition and her two young sons were left without a mom. The whole thing was tragic for our family, but also gave me a lot of perspective about life and the not worrying about the insignificant stuff.

    When it comes down to it, the only way not to grow old is to die young. So embrace the signs that say, “Hey, you’re still here. You may have crow’s feet and can’t rock the string bikini anymore, but you get to spend each day with the people you love. You still get to experience new things and take joy in the world.” I focus on being healthy so that I can be around for a long time. I do not worry about looking like a twenty-year-old model.

    Great post. : )

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    • Hi, Roni…your comments gave me chills. I’m so sorry about your aunt. You’re absolutely right about life’s habit of giving us wake-up calls. When I was pregnant with my son, I developed bell’s palsy. I woke up one morning and the left half of my face no longer worked. I couldn’t get my eye to close. It was both horrifying and terrifying. I had no idea what was going on: was it a stroke? Something else? I had an ob-gyn appointment that day as it was, so I was soon with my doctor, who was pretty sure he knew what was going on. But he couldn’t give me a reason, other than that sometimes happens with pregnancy, and he couldn’t tell me, for sure, if I’d ever “be normal” again. It was soooo scary. I couldn’t stand to look in the mirror, because all I saw was a freak looking back at me. I didn’t want to be seen in public. I was terrified I’d be that way forever. Fortunately, within about three months the palsy faded, but even before then, I got to where I didn’t think much about it (except when I was going to sleep and had to tape my eye shut!), because even though I looked different, I was still the same me-inside. My thoughts were the same, my hopes and dreams and fears, and my family still loved me and I them, my friends still stood in a circle around me. The changes on the outside, and they were stark, were only skin deep. That was a powerful lesson to learn.

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  8. Beautiful, honest post. Your daughter is blessed to have you as her mama!

    As a former model and recovered anorexic, I know too well the struggles and worst-case-scenarios related to unrealistic views of physical beauty, particularly when it’s overvalued. One of the best gifts we can give to younger women is a positive example. Living lives based on passion, rather than wasting energy on trying to diet ourselves away to thinness (which in a way makes our emotional selves disappear with any lost pounds…), and surrounding ourselves with supportive folks go along way toward living happy, self-embracing lives. Thanks for this post!

    PS I host a beauty-themed blog fest every February. I’d love it if you’d consider participating. 🙂

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    • Thanks, August. I love with my daughter with a ferocity that still stuns me…I want to do everything I can to equip her for all the roads ahead of her. I love your comment about giving young women the gift of example and would love to see more time, as a society, spent doing just that. So many of the media messages our girls kid are dead wrong. How do we change that? I think it’s got to be the way we change anything, one step, one day at a time. I can’t change the world, but I can change *my* world. If enough of us do that, then suddenly the bigger world begins to look very different.

      Message me about your blog fest–sounds fun!

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  9. I totally agree with this. Not exactly the same thing, but the idea here is a big part of why I shaved my head. Because I’m the kind of woman who can and will, and I can use this to prove to other women around me that we’re beautiful no matter what. I can’t tell you how many women have all but thanked me for shaving my own head. 😉

    And, in spite of the fact that my 8 year old daughter heartily disapproves, now, there’s a message in it that she’s going to take with her through her life. And my son will see that women are more than the sum of their physical looks. (He CLAIMS to be embarrassed by my choice, but several times lately he’s been Skyping friends and as I pass through the room I hear “Hey, did you see my mom? She shaved her head.”

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    • Love it, love it, love it!! The objectification of women is something that drives me nuts. I was actually having a conversation with a guy about beautiful versus hot. I was saying that beautiful is a word that touches the heart, but “hot’ makes a woman seem like a piece of meat. I’m not sure he got it, but the more I think about, the more demeaning I find the word hot.

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  10. I was a cheerleader in high school so I looked decent. When I had my first baby at twenty-two, of course I gained some weight. Then came babies two and three and more weight. By then my daughter was seven and I was vocal about how much I hated the weight I’d gained until one night she refused dinner because she was getting fat. Never again have I criticized myself in front of her. I still hate my weight. I’ve had two more babies and that cheerleader body is loooong gone but lucky me I have a husband that still tells me everyday that I’m beautiful. More importantly though, I have a gorgeous sixteen year old that doesn’t have a shallow bone in her body.

    That’s what makes the whole thing sad to me. Sure this lady has esteem issues, sure she’s married to a jerk that should’ve encouraged her instead of saying yes you need to fix a few things to be beautiful, but they’re grown. The message the media sends to our young people is what worries me. Our daughters and sons need to know that beauty truly is only skin deep and should not be the sole basis for how they feel about themselves.

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    • The media message drives me nuts, too, and sadly, it’s everywhere. My daughter is 8, and we really have to work to find content we find appropriate for her. Much beyond Phineas and Ferb, and commercial television becomes full of messages and values contrary to what we teach. I really don’t get why Those In Charge insist upon shoving such garbage down our throats.

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  11. I don’t see how any woman, even a supermodel, can feel confident in how she looks in this society. Everything is airbrushed and touched up and made to look perfect. And what’s perfect? Why can’t size 14 be perfect? Yes, it’s a struggle. I work out almost every day to keep in shape and I watch what I eat and I don’t plan to get plastic surgery, but it’s work, I tell you! Work! It doesn’t seem like it should be so much work to feel good about ourselves and stay healthy.

    I would like my daughter to stay the way she is now. She’s totally unselfconscious about her body. She runs around naked without a care in the world. I know it won’t last, no matter how hard I try to shield her from societal propaganda, but it reminds me we were all like that once.

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    • I’m with you, Shana. Airbrushing is gorgeous, but it ain’t real, and it’s dangerous to hold those “perfect” images up as a standard for all women. We could work our tails off and never achieve that look, because we’re living human beings, not touched up pieces of art 🙂

      At almost 9, my daughter is just starting to be aware of her body and how she looks. It’s like walking a tight rope. We want her to make healthful decisions, but not because she’s worried about being fat. We focus on talking about sugar and the diabetes that runs in our family (health), rather than appearance.

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  12. Fantastic post, Ellie! Seriously. Just fantastic!
    I agree so strongly. Self-confidence comes from accomplishing goals. From achieving things. And it should come from inside.
    I wonder if part of the problem isn’t rooted in the fact that this is a woman who was beautiful to start with. I am not someone who could ever rely on her looks to get her what she wants. I’ve never been a real show-stopper and I think because of that, maybe aging will be easier on me.
    I do know this: that husband sounds like a real asshole. Hopefully he’s a nice guy who just said the wrong thing.

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    • Amen, Emily. That’s exactly where I want my daughter’s self-confidence to come from: achieving things. Now, I’m not a fan of trophies for participation, but I am a fan of working to earn/achieve/accomplish something. That’s such an amazing high. As writers, we all know how amazing it feels to meet goals. There are days I’m so consumed with fulfilling goals that I barely get dressed, and barely notice that I barely get dressed. Some of those days are my happiest 🙂

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  13. Well said, Ellie. Unfortunately, we live in a world now where judgments really are made based on how someone looks. Even little children are subjected to this and often bullied because they don’t fit a certain aesthetic. And in a society where celebrity status is awarded more often to people whose claim to fame is one of beauty rather than character or accomplishments, I really feel we need to take a long hard look at ourselves as individuals, and what ‘life’ lessons we are teaching to our children, Sounds preachy, I guess. But I do think moms have a great opportunity to show by example, by showing kindness and compassion to all people regardless of how they look, to embracing our bodies as they change over time. I guess that’s a pretty idealistic view in today’s rather superficial world, but I believe we (as moms) should lead by example and not place so much importance on how someone looks but more on the way they are inside and how they treat others.

    As for plastic surgery, ultimately I believe it is a personal choice. If someone feels strongly enough to have plastic surgery, I just hope it is their choice and that their significant other is being supportive rather than suggesting they need cosmetic alterations or making them feel inadequate.

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    • I hear you, Ashley. One of the biggest culprits, I think, is reality TV. Now, I’m a big fan of shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race, but the other shows, those that are more about interpersonal relationships, have put forward and promoted pretty shallow examples of morals, values, beauty, etc. This is one of those “don’t get me started” things, and I think the Over The Top nature of reality TV is partially, if not largely, responsible for the growing culture of Mean and Hate. On reality TV, the more obnoxious and over the top you are, the more famous you become, you know? I have no idea why THAT is what we celebrate (and emulate).

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  14. What a wonderful posting. And encouraging to all of us. I dont have daughters, but a granddaughter. And I wish exactly all that for her too. And for our sons to recognize that every woman is worth getting to know. For herself. Not just the outside.

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  15. What a jerk that guy is and how pathetic that the woman felt she needed to put herself through all that for HIS approval! I don’t know which of them needs their head shrunk first.

    I have always worked to keep the wrinkles at bay by not frowning and using Retin-A for many years. However, at age 66, I see that I could use some Botox or Restalyne here and there. Then, I think at the price of those injections and how often they need to be repeated. Forget it! I’ve earned my wrinkles and, as an 18-year breast cancer survivor, I’m just thankful to be here. Therefore, I have decided to use the money I would spend on these injections and put it toward something I really enjoy. Things like books, taking cruises, etc. These are my priorities and what’s really important in my life.

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    • That’s so awesome, Connie! Spending money of things you enjoy, things that will create memories, strikes me as a whole lot better use of money than fighting Mother Time 🙂

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  16. I hate that my daughter tries to use clothing, makeup and jewelry to make herself ‘fit in’ with the standards Hollywood has decided are important. It makes me want to scream that she and other young women find themselves so lacking that they have to find unrealistic idols to clone themselves after. One day, hopefully soon, she’ll get that it’s only inside beauty that counts.

    And hopefully she won’t ever hook up with a husband like the on morning show you watched. I hope there were hundreds of women waiting near the exit to throw rotten tomatoes at him. What a jerk! Even if he’d been joking, what must those comments have done to his wife’s self-esteem? She might have been smiling for the cameras, but I’d bet she was already planning what she needed to do next to keep him happy.

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  17. Thanks for this wonderful post, Ellie. I recently read a book called “So Long Insecurity, You’ve Been a Bad Friend to Us” by Beth Moore that deals with the HUGE issue of insecurity in our culture. Because, really, that’s what it comes down to. We don’t like to say we’re insecure; that makes us look weak. But wanting to be better, prettier, smarter? Well, that means we’re strong women, right? Not only does our society perpetuate the idea that we constantly need to compare ourselves to other women and rank ourselves, too, it uses men as one of the tools for our insecurity. I’m not going to say that I don’t struggle with this issue (in more areas than just the physical), because I do. But after reading this book I’m a lot more aware of my own insecurities and now know what to do when they rise up to taunt me.

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  18. Thanks for the fantastic blog, Ellie. I’m so sick of society pushing false values on our children. I have five lovely granddaughters who are confident young ladies, because we have always told them that beauty comes from within. It is sad when anyone needs approval from the world to be themselves.

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    • I couldn’t agree more, Jackie. As a writer, this is something I think about when crafting my Young Adult stories. I want to be authentic to today’s YA experience, and yet, I also want to portray strong young women who, while they may make mistakes, can also find the strength, grace, intelligence, and confidence to see them through.

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  19. What a great and honest post! I really think you’re a GREAT Mom!!
    Mine always told me that I shouldn’t look into the mirror – I’m not pretty and staring into the mirror isn’t going to make it better… It started when I was about 13 – by the time I was 18 I believed her.
    It’s a long time ago – and I’m still insecure…

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    • Ah, Raani, thank you. I’ve always heard we try to be the parents we wish we had, which may be why paying attention to my daughter is so important to me. I know my parents love(d) me, but there was no encouraging us to speak our mind or learn how to be confident and love who we were. It was a long time before any of that happened for me, and it’s still a thin line that I don’t always find myself on the right side of. I think that’s why it’s so important to me to equip my daughter as best as I can to navigate what lies ahead of her. I can’t imagine any mother piling such damaging, ugly messages on their daughter 😦 I’m glad that didn’t hold you back fro chasing your dreams 🙂

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  20. Ellie, I applaud your post! How lucky your daughter and nieces are to have you in their lives to guide them. I abhor the parts of society that judge us by appearance only. Each of us struggles against private burdens, and no one but the individual knows what those are. How shallow to judge without knowing the whole person. Yay, you!

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