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[personal profile] rivkasmom
I just wrote this to a woman on a different forum, who wanted to know what to do about her insecurity about her looks.  I figured I'd cross post it here to save.  Let me know what you think.~~~

From the ages of 14 to 18 I was a junior's size runway model. (I obviously didn't grow up frum! LOL)  My agent was awesome.  She knocked sense into our heads early on.  She used to be a star model for Oscar de la Renta.  She told us "No matter how pretty you are, or how thin you are, someone will always be prettier or thinner.  Get used to it.  Remember, in this business you are nothing but a glorified clothes hanger, and you can all be easily replaced!  Don't go getting stuck up, you're just as human as anyone else."

I realized that if G-d forbid something were to happen to my looks, like an auto accident or something, that I'd better have some value inside of me in order to keep my friends.  Looks can be taken away from you in a split second, but no one can take away your middos, your loving nature, and your love of Hashem.

My daughter sometimes compares herself to other girls, and she asks me who I think is prettier.  I tell her that this friend looks exactly the way Hashem wants her to look, and that DD looks exactly the way He wants her to look.  We are all who we are, because that is who we are supposed to be!

As far at "attractiveness" goes, I know some really knockout beautiful women, who have no so nice middos or a sour attitude about life.  After that two second first impression, you get to realize that they're not so pretty after all.  I also know some very plain, overweight, frumpily dressed women who LOVE LIFE, and always run to help others.  They're genuinely happy to see you, have a big smile and a warm hug.  Those are the women who are truly beautiful.  

There is nothing more attractive than a woman - in any sort of "packaging" - who is truly happy.  Being beautiful won't make you happy, but I promise you that being happy will make you beautiful.  Like everyone else said, work on your attitude, middos and emunah, and next thing you know, you'll be walking down the street glowing, with your head held high and a smile on your face.  When you look in the mirror, you'll love who you see - because Hashem made you, and has loved you all along.
From: [identity profile] mosinging1986.livejournal.com
"a glorified clothes hanger" - wow, what an ugly but apt description!

I was born with a cleft lip/palate, so I grew up thinking I was the most hideous creature alive. I never told anyone because I didn't want to worry or upset my parents. Looking back, I couldn't have been that bad, because I don't remember being treated cruelly in school. People would ask and there were a couple of times kids were mean. But nothing like the daily cruelty some poor children endure about whatever flaws (or perceived flaws) the other kids decide to focus on and torment them about.

Still, I lived for the day my surgeries would be over so my life could begin. When I had the last one at 18, I didn't want anyone to see me right away. I was swollen and really did look awful. My friends would not take no for an answer and showed up at my door, against my wishes. If they'd flinched even once upon seeing me, I would've noticed. They did not. They loved me anyway. That and a couple of other incidents were very healing for me. All my life I'd waited for my surgeries to be over so I could finally be "normal". This last surgery was horribly painful. (Jaw restructuring and such.) But I had to go through all of that to learn that the people who loved me loved me before surgery and after surgery. It took me having my jaw wired shut and my throat "slit ear to ear" (words of my surgeon) to learn that hard lesson.

I'm stubborn like that.

***

And then just a few years ago I was talking to a girl I worked with. I forget how the subject of cleft lip/palate even came up, but she told me she hadn't even noticed! We sat next to each other for 8 hours a day and we got along, so we talked all the time!
I was stunned to hear this from her.

YOU MEAN I WASTED MY ENTIRE LIFE FOCUSING ON SOMETHING MOST PEOPLE DIDN'T EVEN NOTICE?!

Apparently so.

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 07:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zachkessin.livejournal.com
I didn't know you were a model, that neat!

As for what you took from it, that was really well said.

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 07:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hannahsarah.livejournal.com
Yep. My genes ruined my career. I sprouted very round hips, my height topped out at 5'7", and I couldn't stay under 115 pounds. In other words, I was too short and too fat!

Thanks to having a good attitude, I just shrugged and went on to jewelry design, which is my true love anyway. I can honestly say that right now, I'm the happiest I've ever been, and I feel very pretty too! :-D

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 07:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zachkessin.livejournal.com
Personally I think adult women shouldn't look like 13 year old boys. (I'm just saying)

As for being happy, I'll take that any day of the week!

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 08:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brendala.livejournal.com
Personally I think adult women shouldn't look like 13 year old boys. (I'm just saying)

Word. Also, the fact that most fashion designers are either gay men or middle-aged women should be a clue to the women out there that looking like the girls in the magazines won't necessarily lead to heterosexual men chasing them like dogs in heat.

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 08:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hannahsarah.livejournal.com
Google "androgen insensitivity syndrome". I find it ironic that these women are supposed to be the epitome of femininity, when the majority of them have an extremely rare intersex condition. Since it is physically impossible for a healthy, average weight woman to ever look like that, the fashion industry has guaranteed that we will always be dissatisfied with ourselves. We will constantly wanting to buy the clothes "that we think will make us look like the women in the magazines." Not to mention the hair, the makeup, the shoes, the lifestyle, whatever they want to sell us in order to be perceived as "beautiful".

Next time you see a 6 foot tall, reed thin woman sulking on the catwalk, just think of these two words: undescended testicles. There's a very good reason why many women in the modeling industry choose to adopt children. They let the media assume that the women are so vain that they won't even get pregnant for fear of messing up their figures and their careers. They let everyone assume that they are shallow, when in fact they are infertile. (not that it's anyone's business in the first place!)

If you want more perspective, Naomi Wolfe's "The Beauty Myth" is a great place to start reading.

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] christina-tm.livejournal.com
I'm 5' 7" and don't think I could weigh 115 pounds again short of being seriously ill.

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 07:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] baron-waste.livejournal.com

Your observations remind me of something I said on this subject myself, a while back.

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 08:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hannahsarah.livejournal.com
I wish more women AND men would recognize the truth of what you, and I, just wrote. The world would be a much better place.

Always someone better than you...

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 12:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] juliet-winters.livejournal.com
Brains as well as beauty for your quote

My father is an extremely intelligent man who blows away IQ tests and passed college placement tests in subjects he never studied such as physics. I was also getting great test scores, being admitted into selective gifted programs, etc. when he reminded me that no matter how smart I was, there was always going to be someone who was smarter.
Very true and remembering it is why I developed a better life I think than women who cling to their intelligence as much as others cling to their good looks. Always trying to be the smartest person in the room is really no better than trying to be the most beautiful.

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 01:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oxymoron02.livejournal.com
I'm fat. I have been fat my whole life. I used to let it bother me a lot. Some days it still does. Most of the time it doesn't. I look at it this way, if I really hated being fat that much, I would do something about it. I don't even contemplate doing anything about it. If I'm not bothered enough to try and change it, then I'm not really bothered by being this size.

Don't get me wrong, if the diet fairy showed up one day and said she could wave her magic wand and I could drop 50 lbs, I'd take it. Anything that requires effort isn't worth it to me.

With that said, part of how I got to accepting my size and mostly not caring was a healthy dose of perspective from my son's father.

I prefer average to thin men. My son's father is so thin and lean, he sinks in a swimming pool. You can see his ribs. He requires a belt to keep his 28 inch waist pants from falling off his pelvis. He is the definition of skin and bones.

Back when we were together, I was having an insecure day, and as women are want to do on occasion, I threw out a jab at myself in hopes of catching some encouragement.

"How can you find me attractive when I'm so fat?"

"You're not fat, you're soft."

"Excuse me?!?"

He went on to explain that it is physically painful for him to sit because there is nothing on his backside to cushion his tailbone. When he bumps in to something, there is no padding to absorb the blow, it goes straight to the bone and hurts. No part of him was soft.

I, on the other hand, beat the tar out of every pillow he'd ever slept on. I was better for cushioning him when we lay entangled in each other, as was our preference to sleep, than any multiple of body pillows he had ever tried to use to keep bony knees apart. He imagined sitting, without pain, well cushioned, and was jealous.

Jealous? Wow. That was an eye opener.

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 02:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mosinging1986.livejournal.com
Thanks for sharing this. It always amazes me how can't really imagine how other people experience life - even those closest to us.

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 03:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kangaekaeru.livejournal.com
That's a beautiful attitude to take.

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 04:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strivingtoohard.livejournal.com
While I'm totally happy with the way I look, I do think it is important to work on my looks. Not so much because I want to be more beautiful but because if I take care of how I look, my body will be in better condition which is much more important than how I look.

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hannahsarah.livejournal.com
Maintaining a healthy body and feeling dignified are extremely important, IMHO. The point is, don't let it define your worth as a human being.

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 09:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strivingtoohard.livejournal.com
It won't define your worth but it will build your self-esteem and that builds your worth in your own eyes.

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] christina-tm.livejournal.com
There is nothing more attractive than a woman - in any sort of "packaging" - who is truly happy. Being beautiful won't make you happy, but I promise you that being happy will make you beautiful.

WORD.

I went to graduate school with a woman who was in a fire when she was 8. She lost both hands, had burn scars over 90% of her body, lost a lot of her hearing, and had scar tissue in her lungs. But she is one of the happiest, most energetic and funniest people I have ever met. She just radiated love and joy everywhere she went. Her spirit made her beautiful.

Date: Aug. 31st, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] christina-tm.livejournal.com
Oh, and great answer to Rivka. I may tuck that away for when I have kids. I always get so sad when I see girls Rivka's age worrying about their bodies and how pretty they are. You have the rest of your life to do that, but only so long to be 7 and wear Jedi capes, you know?

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