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Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Inner Beauty Movement / Are Self-Love Blogs Fluff?

My daughter checking out her reflection. (It's a child-safe mirror, which is why it looks a little distorted.)
If only we all kept the same friendly relationship with the mirror as we got older!

Let me be honest. Because I always am here. :) And I'm not fishing for compliments. Sometimes I can start to wonder if this blog really means anything to anyone or if it actually makes a difference. How's that for ironic: the self-love blogger feeling insecure about her blog?! Just like anyone else, I can start to let a lack of comments make me question my purpose here. Just about the time I start wondering that, I will receive a comment from someone I've never heard from before saying that something I wrote meant something to them. (You'd think I would learn by now.) And the truth is, whether this blog ever reaches an audience on a wide scale, it has helped me more than I ever thought possible as well. The simple act of constantly thinking of self-love posts I want to write about naturally induces more of it in my life. As a mom, I don't have the time I used to have to devote to it, but it's never far from my thoughts. Every time I watch TV or hear a song or have a conversation with a friend, my mind is thinking of how I can weave a post from some sort of nugget I got because my goal is simply to help people. And if people can glean something positive from my bad experiences (and my good ones!), it adds more purpose to things I went through.

This is not the only blog out there that talks about self-love. There are quite a few of them out there. There is somewhat of a female self-love movement going on in our world right now, and not just from Dove. Even though as far as I can tell, we started this project before the big movement started, sometimes I wonder if I actually have anything valuable to add to this movement when there is already so much going on towards it. Some of those other blogs are so, so good. But then I snap myself back to reality and remember that no one else can tell this "story" the way I tell it. Someone might read my blog and get more out of it than another one because something about it resonates with them more. Someone might read mine and it doesn't resonate with them, but it propels them toward another blog that does. Maybe someone doesn't regularly read this blog but happened upon one particular post that mattered to them that day. All of those things are great. What's important is that the person is actively seeking that journey. My blog isn't any better or worse than the others and vice versa because, while we may all be discussing the same basic principle, we're all doing it in our own unique ways.  I am not jealous of the other, more successful blogs in actuality. I am just happy if people find something that makes them see how beautiful they really are inside and out. 

I recently read on another self-love blog, however, that blogs like mine are essentially fluff. That you can't develop more self-love simply by focusing on it. That you really need to take her e-course to discover how to love yourself more. Now, her course might be a total awakening for some people, and if so, I think that is wonderful. I will not call her out because I sincerely believe that her purpose is the same as mine: to help people. But I don't think it's fair to downplay blogs like mine that promote self-love or try to convince all women that they're beautiful. All of us self-love bloggers have our place in this movement, a place that only each one of us can fill in our individual ways from our unique experiences in our lives. I do believe the more you focus on something, the more it becomes your reality. If you're reading my blog and/or some of the others, I think it's naturally going to start to rub off on you. How you get there isn't as important as the fact that you are trying to get there. There's no one right way or right answer that applies to all women.

My daughter and me.
She's beautiful inside and out,
and I want her to always know!
I really love, LOVE, LOOOOOVE Lifetime's new show, "The Conversation." I have been keeping some notes and quotes from every episode as I've gone along and am just waiting for the right way to convey my thoughts, but sum it up now to say: IF YOU ARE A WOMAN AND YOU ARE NOT WATCHING THIS SHOW, YOU ARE DOING A GREAT DISSERVICE TO YOURSELF. So anyway, I've been perusing their web site now that season one is over, and there is some great stuff there. I came across this post, and it so beautifully describes how I feel - that the inner beauty movement does not have to exclude outer beauty. Let's not get so caught up in the inner stuff that we convince ourselves the outer part doesn't even matter. We're women. We're human. To some degree, for most of us, it does matter. And as the post points out: "By relying on your inner beauty to get you through the long days and cold nights, you might miss a very valuable truth: you ARE beautiful... Here’s the lie: You are either beautiful on the inside or pretty on the outside. Here’s what I say: That’s a load of bull. You as a woman are inherently both." That's why one of our TCN mottos is "Inner AND outer beauty promoted here." They aren't mutually exclusive. 

I'll leave you for now with a list of some of my favorite self-love blogs/sites run by some courageous and inspiring women - all of whom, like me, probably started out in a place of insecurity and worked their way out...I dare say we all still struggle, but we have learned how to fight it better and just want to help others do the same. You don't even have to agree with everything they or I say; you can pick and choose what resonates with you and build on it. There are a wealth of other blogs and sites that are great; these just happen to have found their way into my list.

I also have what I think is a really great Twitter list I've made public of all my favorite self-love tweeters (many of those above, plus others). Check it out and make your own...and don't forget to add us, @narcissisters, to your list. ;)

What is your opinion of the self-love movement? Do you think it is working? Do you believe in promoting or diminishing the importance of feeling beautiful on the outside?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Price of Perfection

While looking to add Yo Gabba Gabba to our Netflix instant queue for our daughter, we stumbled upon a Korean horror film called "Yoga: the Movie." Sounds innocuous enough, right? Well, it was creepy enough that I'm glad I didn't watch it alone. :) Don't worry, yoga fans; it's not an attack on yoga.

It's about a home shopping channel host who gets fired and replaced by a woman who was supposed to be just her co-host, for the reason that she wasn't attractive enough. After reuniting with an old acquaintance from high school who looks drastically different now than she did then, she's referred to what she thinks is a yoga training center that can help her become "more" and therefore successful.

But, of course, once she gets in, she and the other young women in the group find out there's much more to it than that. It is supposedly run by a beautiful, ageless actress, and only one girl who makes the cut at the end of the week is allowed to meet her and learn the secret of ultimate beauty. Until then, they just have their trainer, who imposes a lot of rules they find difficult to follow. No unauthorized eating. No cell phones. No showers within an hour after training. No looking in mirrors. Baaaad things happen when you break the rules. At first, they think they're having hallucinations from fasting, but it is apparently all real.

There is a famous celebrity in the group, a singer whom the public once adored and now make fun of to the point where she's tried to kill herself over the rejection. She can't handle the way the public changes its mind about a celebrity overnight. Then there is a young mother who spends more time and money on plastic surgery than on her child and is there because she thinks a botched nose job has rendered her useless and ugly. There is a girl who used to be "fat," which, by her standards, was 45 pounds heavier. Now that she's thin, she is obsessed with weighing herself everyday and can't go without it. 

The main character eventually realizes this is not what she signed up for and not what she wants. You'll have to watch to find out whether she gets out of it or not.

But the storyline is definitely a poignant take on women's pursuit of physical perfection and a good metaphor for how that quest can almost make you lose your soul. Or at least your perspective and your sanity. The women were willing to go to almost any length to achieve perfection. And we were wondering why when they were all very pretty already...but maybe that's the point...they didn't know they were, just like a lot of us.

I talk about realizing you're enough and accepting yourself for who you are. But trust me, I know sometimes it's easier said than done. I haven't mastered it. I just try to work really hard on it every day. The alternative may not literally suck you into a world of hallucinations and terror. But, then again, it might. If you can't see yourself realistically and constantly think you're too much this or not enough that, that is a hallucination in a sense. I'm not saying it is bad to try and look your best. But don't let the elusive, unattainable pursuit of perfection rule or control you. You'll miss out on so much and gain nothing. Try to practice little ways each day of appreciating yourself and work up to bigger ones until it becomes a habit.

Have you ever done anything extreme in the name of trying to beautify yourself and regretted it?

Our First Craft Fair!

Okay, so this actually happened on April 21, and I'm only just now getting around to posting about it. :) Kam and I had our first booth at a small, local fair. Neither of us had ever done anything quite like that, and it was a great experience. We had our usual self-love necklaces, in addition to some new designs we hope to have listed in our shop soon: some cute, narcissistic necklaces and hair pins. I had a popped blood vessel in one eye that day, and let me tell you, I had to work harder to feel confident when I was supposed to be looking people in the eye and selling confidence jewelry. I pushed through and had some of the most amazing conversations with people that day that I will always remember, and I'm glad I didn't let it stop me. Truthfully, I almost didn't go, and Kam told me that wasn't an option. Real friends remind you of what's really important and encourage you to brave your fears.

We only sold two necklaces, but you know what? I could tell their messages really meant something to the two people who bought them. They each pored over everything we had to make sure they were getting just the right ones that spoke to them. I feel like it would be sort of a breach of trust to publicly tell why they got the ones they did, even if their stories were inspirational to me. Suffice it to say they were both amazing, strong women who will take the messages to heart. That, to me, means more than how many we sold. It was also interesting to hear other takes on our messages, and it goes to show that each one can have a different, yet equally powerful, meaning to you depending on your experiences and what you need.

Here are some pictures from our day!

Not quite finished setting up here; I don't think we got one of the final table in all its glory! :( 
You know me...Rob had to come along and lend his support by sporting a hat and some necklaces.

Only one person (besides me) asked to have their picture taken with him - I was shocked! 
He did get a lot of attention, though.

 A sneak peak at some of our new designs.
An accidentally broken mirror became Kam's display inspiration!

Something I hope she always believes at her core.

Kam with her daughter peeking over her shoulder.