Real Women Have Curves… Strong is the New Skinny…

These mantras can be empowering for women.

We all want to feel passionate, powerful, and purposeful. Isn’t that how anyone feels when they are feeling truly alive?

When do we find that we look for ways to feel powerful?

Is it when we are feeling weak? Is it when we are not feeling valued?

What do you do when you are feeling (dare I say the word)…insecure?

Do you have a mantra that you turn to or an action that you take?

Women struggle more with their value or self-worth than men do. Much of the struggle stems from the feminine roles and standards of beauty that are part of the societal norms that have been around for centuries. If this weren’t true then men would have come up with their own body acceptance mantras. “Strong is the new Skinny” or “Real Women Have Curves.” were developed BY women FOR women and they surely took hold.

Why did these mantras come about and what are we all really thinking when we subscribe to these ideas?

These statements are proof that there is a need for validation. I can see why they became popular and why we naturally gravitate toward them. All of us women struggle with where we fit in when it comes to societal images and ideals of femininity and beauty.  We struggle to find “our place” in all of it.  We all want to feel important and valuable. All humans do regardless of age or gender. We are all born with the need to feel accepted. We also want to feel that we are a part of a group. Women, however, have a need to feel accepted and valued visually and physically. So of course, if you are curvy, you would subscribe to the statement, “Real Women Have Curves” because the statement validates you in some way and makes you feel that you are not alone. The statement in and of itself starts from a place that women who have curves need validation or recognition.  When I first learned of the statement “Strong is the New Skinny” I immediately subscribed to it because I thought it made me feel powerful as if that was my place in society or that was the group of women that I belonged to. This statement also resonated strongly with me because I could easily get stronger as long as I worked on it and that seemed more manageable and worthy of a goal. Overall, the statement supports being healthier or stronger above trying to be thinner. What could be wrong with that?  And so I loved the statement and would smile or “like” it on social media when I came across it.

But, what I realized was, in reality, I was grabbing hold of the mantra because I didn’t feel just simply ok with myself right where I was and needed to feel validated or empowered from some authority, movement, or mantra that I could consider myself a part of. Similarly, when I come across “40 is the new 30,” I don’t look at this mantra as motivating or powerful at all.  Do we need to label or compare ourselves to anything in order to solidify that we are “ok?” These statements, although well intentioned in their origin, do not truly serve to make us feel powerful. That is why when I saw my friend Tara Ballard from Prime Life Fit post on her social media, “40 is the new 40.” I loved it, thought it was genius, and it inspired me to write this blog post.

I’m not saying that I am uber confident and walk around loving myself 24 hours a day. No…Not, at all. I still have way too many moments when I am feeling insecure and struggling with accepting my aging and ever-changing physical self. I still look at other women and recognize beauty everywhere. I still find myself in moments of self judgment and looking at parts of me that I wish could look tighter, shapelier, shinier, more balanced, younger, brighter, less hairy, less rippley, etc. I wish I could tell you there was a special mantra or practice that just sticks and relieves you from all self-doubt and insecurity about your looks.

What do I do When I’m feeling insecure?

I have found a strategy that works for me and shifts my mindset back to a place of power when these moments of self-doubt or insecurity do happen. It first begins with awareness. I am able to become more quickly aware of what is going on and I recognize that I am thinking or acting a certain way because I am feeling insecure. Then, I realize that I must take full ownership and responsibility for getting myself to a better place in my head. Sometimes I can move quickly through the moment and other times it may take a little bit longer. Either way, I am AWARE and I ALLOW. I allow myself to be human. I remind myself that I am not alone and every single sentient human struggles with insecurity. Then, I shift my focus on what my unique traits and talents are. I do this to remind myself that I have a purpose in being here and the traits that make me unique and individual are timeless, ageless, and without form. How do I do this? I have a visualization. I came up with this visualization through meditating and now it has become my “go to” strategy…and…. really helps move me through the unwelcome moments when insecurity is taking root.

Here is my visualization: I picture a small metal box. I picture that my soul or ‘my essence’ is in that box. All of the characteristics that make me who I am (which are actually not things that can be held or contained in any box) but still, the box serves as a visual as “the container” just like my body, or my physical form is simply a container. The box that I visualize is a blank, metal box. It’s metal and generic and the reason for that is to further symbolize that the essence of who we are can not be seen or judged by the container that we are in. What is inside the box are things that are truly unique to me and a part of who I am. My voice and my laugh and the traits, talents, and qualities that make me unique and individual are inside this box. I return to this visualization because I need to remind myself that I am made of many things that are not visually seen and my purpose for being here and being of value in this world stem from those traits and the container (a plain, metal box) just simply doesn’t matter.

If and when the insecurity lingers.. the next step I take is to “share out my feelings.” I discuss what I am feeling (depending on scenario) with my husband or a close girlfriend. They both are wonderful at holding space for me (without judgement) and just allow me to rant it out. I usually feel better immediately after just simply sharing it. I am always grateful in these moments most of all because I am lucky enough to have these two people in my life with whom I can feel safe to share and be a flawed human.

As a mother to a little girl I think deeply about these value struggles that women deal with and I take on a whole new level of responsibility in being able to help show my daughter a different way. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee that these “beauty ideals,” and the bombardment of images, and the value our society places on feminine, physical beauty is going to go away anytime soon. Regardless, it is important to be able to provide mind shifts, tools, and strategies for my daughter so that she can also find her way if/when she ever struggles with her value as a female.

Do you have a unique mantra or visualization that you turn to when you are feeling insecure?

If so, I would love to hear about it. Please share it with me.

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