I’m a woman. As a young girl I was always encouraged to be “lady-like”. I was told to sit with my knees together and if I were to cross my legs, I could only cross them at the ankle. I was told to sit up straight and practice great posture. My mother told me all of these things not to conform to some idea of what it meant to be feminine, but for my health. She always said these things were lady-like and good for me. She told me sitting up straight would train me to have good posture and that crossing my legs only at the ankle would ensure proper blood flow. She also said these things showed everyone else that I cared about myself. She was right. In addition to these things being good for my health, they also put out a message.
My mother also taught me to let myself be heard, and not to cower in fear of what others may think. This is a lesson that took a while to learn, but it wasn’t hard. I realized I project a certain confidence that I often found lacking in myself. I have been told that I “carry myself” well, or that I look like the type of woman who “don’t take no mess”. I have taken my share of messes in the past. It often puzzled me that people at first meeting found me intimidating. It was not until I saw a video of myself walking to my car shot by a friend of mine. I was standing talk, back straight, chest out and thought to myself “Who is that?” I could not believe my eyes. I could now see what everyone else was talking about. I looked more confident than I was. This video was a game-changer for me. That day I decided I was going to be the woman I had trained my body to be.
I was never a push-over, but I wouldn’t say that I was the most assertive woman either. It took a lot for me to step up and make myself heard. I knew that part of me needed some work so I used the antiquated term of being “lady-like” to my advantage. I took a page from my mother’s book. She described the confident posture and demeanor that I now possess as “lady-like” because, I feel that she subconsciously believed that to be a less threatening term for a woman. What she was teaching me was to convey confidence in a non-threatening way. I had to learn to be assertive.
Being assertive for an introvert has its challenges, but it also has its advantages. As an introvert, I tend to sit back and observe. We introverts make lots of mental notes in our heads and tend to not act on impulse, thus making our assertion more effective. We can be calculating and often let all the dust clear before sweeping up the pieces and putting them in order. I use the “lady-like” approach. I wait my turn, smile, and never raise my voice. This is not a sign of weakness, but of control. I can maintain my composure while making myself heard and commanding respect. I have been amazed at how well this works. I believe once you lose control of your emotions, you being to crack the shell of your defense. I was able to convey a confidence and even intimidation just in the way I walked. It wasn’t because of anything I said. It was because I was in control of my body. I learned that I also had to get that same control over my emotions.
Today’s Writing Prompt: Ritual
We all have some type of ritual. It could be a daily walk, a morning brew of coffee, or a complex set of steps that you must complete before moving on to the next thing. Write about one of your rituals and what it means to you. Why do you feel it is necessary? When did it start? What would happen if you didn’t do it?
The other day my son and I were driving home from church. We pass a very small, modest house and my son said “That’s the kind of house I want!” I was a little shocked as the house was very small and nondescript. My son is academically gifted and I had visions him being a CEO, famous artist, etc. Basically, I visioned him having a lucrative career and along with that, I did not envision such a tiny, unremarkable home. I asked him why that house appealed to him. He then went on to tell me big houses require a lot of work and money to maintain and he did not want to spend his time, money, and energy maintaining and extravagant house. He would much rather travel, and work just enough to afford the things he enjoys. Spending so much money on a house did not make sense to him.
This day I learned that my dreams for may child are just that – My Dreams. He has a mind of his own and, from what I can tell, a pretty good plan. I work in higher education and I often encounter parents pushing their dreams onto their children. I try to encourage the parents and the students to make decisions they will be happy with in the long run. Although I never tell my son that he shouldn’t take a certain path or judge his decisions, I do realize that I may imply my disappointment, but saying things like “Why would you want to do that? I have to be careful with my tone because I have always told my son that he would be free to do anything that does not harm himself or others. I will always take into consideration his best interests and will guide him along the way, but I will also trust that sometimes his vision for himself is what’s best for him. It is his life to live and I want him to be happy.
I have noticed a trend of celebrities and others posting pictures of themselves with no makeup and I think it’s wonderful. I have also heard many of my peers grump and groan about how beautiful whatever celebrity looks even without makeup. Then they will quickly mention how celebrities have the resources and access to the best beauty treatments, personal trainers, personal chefs, etc., and that is how they are able to look their bests. I totally disagree. Certainly celebrities have the money and opportunity to take advantage of the latest and most expensive beauty regimens along with personal chefs and fitness trainers that will beat them into shape, but the average everyday person has access to some pretty amazing things as well.
Here is how anyone can look like a celebrity on a budget:
- Put good things in your body
The one thing I realized when I began to treat myself better is that purchasing quality food can be pricey. This was very disappointing to me, but I have always found ways to have quality things on a budget. So I started growing some of my own food. I don’t have a farm so I grew what I could. I grew herbs on my porch and vegetables. I purchased organic non-gmo seeds and I was so proud of my gardening and enjoyed serving and eating things that had planted myself and it costed me less than $20 . No matter how little room you have around your home it is possible to grow something of your own or at least make an attempt. The main thing it to only put good things in your body. When you take care of the inside the outside will also transform.
- Put good things in your mind
Stress can destroy your body and mind. I have always said that stress is not something that is given, but something you take. Remove yourself from stressful situations. This may mean finding new friends, or a new job, or just taking time to relax and let go. How many times have you seen a person who looked 10 years older than their actual age? That’s stress. If you feel that stress seems to follow and force its way into your life, overpower it with things that give you pleasure. Provide yourself with enough pleasurable things that the stressful things seem minor. Enjoying life can have an amazing effect on your outer appearance.
- Put good things on your body
Some of the best beauty products can be found in your kitchen and are very inexpensive. I use coconut oil as a conditioner for my hair and as a moisturizer for my body. I brush my teeth with baking soda (my grandmother taught me this and I have never had a cavity). I rarely wear makeup, but when I do I look for the most natural and eco-friendliest. Recently, on an episode of The Doctors there was a segment that showed how to use what is in your kitchen as makeup. They used powdered green tea as eyeshadow, cocoa powder as a bronzer. I was surprised how great the model looked after. I haven’t tried any of these, but I will be trying the green tea eyeshadow in the future.
What I would like to challenge all of us to do is to take care of ourselves inside and out. We must also remember that our goals should not be to look like someone else, but to be the best at being ourselves. Once we begin to love and appreciate ourselves we will not envy others. We have to nurture our minds and our bodies, and to do so we must chose what we expose them to. Live the way you deserve to. Never think the best is unattainable.
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”
― Audrey Hepburn