Letting go

By Jeanne Reynolds

I was in yoga class when it happened.

As I tried to ease into a downward dog (which looks more like a downward log thanks to my lack of flexibility, but that’s another story), the instructor encouraged us to let our necks relax and heads drop comfortably. That meant my eyes were facing directly back at my angled thighs. And that’s when I first saw it.

Loose, crepey skin hanging away from my legs. Like … OMG … old lady skin. Now, I realize I’m part of the Every Woman Blog team to fill a certain demographic, but seriously: When. Did. That. Happen?

And: Now I know why most people wear capri tights for yoga instead of an old pair of bike shorts.

I’ve never been mistaken for a Vogue cover model, but c’mon. These are an athlete’s thighs. Thighs that have run 5 Boston Marathons and regularly lift weights and walk 18 holes of golf once or twice a week. Apparently all that doesn’t overcome the fact that they’re also 61-year-old thighs.

A friend – several years younger, many pounds thinner and a much faster runner than I am – told me she’s noticed the same thing recently. It’s not really wrinkles. As she put it, her skin is letting go of her body.

That doesn’t make it look any better, but the idea of letting go does make me feel a little better. Because being able to let go of some things is one of the best parts of getting older. When I hear people long for their younger days and wish they were 21 again, I recoil in horror. I (vaguely) remember the things I obsessed over at that age that now seem so lacking in perspective. Which of course makes sense, because you can’t yet see the big picture from the bottom of the hill.

I’m realizing there are many things I’ve been glad to let go as I’ve gotten older:

  • Caring what I look like for a quick run to the grocery store.
  • Always having to tell someone when I disagree with them.
  • Feeling like I have to sign up/volunteer/donate every time I’m asked.

Of course, there are many more I’m still working on:

  • Worrying because I can’t ever seem to get everything done.
  • Feeling guilty when I need to say no.
  • Spending more time trying to make things perfect than simply enjoying them.

And there are things I hope I never let go:

  • Challenging myself physically and mentally. I don’t know if or when I’ll run another marathon or go sky-diving again like I did to celebrate my 50th birthday, but I won’t rule it out.
  • Being willing (even enjoying) looking completely silly while doing something fun. Catch me dancing to “Love Shack” and you’ll see what I mean.
  • Believing age is a number, not a definition.

So, fair warning: I’m going to yoga class tomorrow. And if I get the laundry done, I’ll be wearing those same old bike shorts. If it bothers you, I suggest you set up your mat on the other side of the room.

Or just let it go.


Weight Watchers: Lose The Negativity

By: Chaunte McClure

MovieWhen I read comments about Lupita Nyong’o on my Facebook feed following the Oscars last week, I was a bit relieved and quite impressed. Relieved? Impressed? Yes, because no one focused on her small frame and criticized her for being too small. Instead, folks were excited because she garnered an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Patsey in the movie “12 Years a Slave.” Fans and spectators raved about her beauty, her gown and the flawlessness of her acceptance speech. A line from her speech that I’ve seen and heard quoted repeatedly – “No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid” – has and will inspire the doubtful, faithless, and hopeless. It’s a statement that encourages everyone, everywhere. Yes, Lupita, you are right, “No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” And no matter what you look like, you are valid.

I’m sure Lupita would agree with that too, having struggled with embracing her beautiful dark skin. Sometimes we can be very critical towards one another, even ourselves. We criticize how light or dark someone’s skin is, the way they dress, how they wear their hair, or how thick or thin they are.

Too often I’ve had people say to me, ‘You are so skinny.’ ‘Gosh you’re so little.’ ‘You need to eat.’ Well, every day I look in the mirror and I’m well aware of the Master’s piece I see. I see that He created me a petite woman and I’m glad you can see that as well. My looks may not be flattering to you, but “when God saw everything that he had made …. it was very good.”  (Genesis 1:31). There are people on the other end of the scale who get laughed at and put down because they struggle with their weight. They’re called fat and other names that I’m not even comfortable repeating for fear of opening the wound of someone who’s reading this.

No one likes to be looked down on or called names. When we do, we take the risk of arresting the development of someone because the negativity can lead to low self-esteem. When a person has low self-esteem, it affects what they do, what they don’t, how they think and how they act. Among other things, they lack confidence, are timid and feel invalid. It is our responsibility to encourage one another.

Ladies, remember that regardless if you’re fat, skinny or somewhere in between – you’re valid. Weight watchers, lose the negativity. The next time you see someone whom you think does not meet your weight, color, or other cosmetic standard, I pray that you will be reminded of the One who put him or her together. Learn to genuinely compliment others. Let me remind you of this cliché: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Encouraging you to be compassionate and sensitive towards others, I’m Chaunte McClure.

That Dove Ad

…And Why I Think The Discussion It Sparks Is Really Good For Us All

By: Shannon Shull

One of my amazing sisters sent me a link to this great Dove ad, with a note that said “This is cool! A video of how women perceive themselves verses how others perceive them.”

You may or may not have caught wind of or seen this video, but here is the link: http://www.upworthy.com/2-people-described-the-same-person-to-a-forensic-artist-and-this-is-what-happene?c=reccon1

And now here is the crucial part: make sure to take note of the credits posted after the ad video:

“Credits: ORIGINAL: By Dove. While we really like the experiment featured here, we do have some problems with this ad as a whole. Check out this critique by Jazz Brice and this post from our own Kaye Toal to find out why.”

If you actually take the time to watch Dove’s ad video, which you should, then you absolutely must read the bloggers’ responses to the ad.

In my opinion, all these folks involved – the Dove Ad Campaign people and these two bloggers – are fabulous on so many different levels.

I watched the video first and I admit, I totally cried. Yep, a tears-running-down-the-face, struggling-to-speak-straight kind of cry. Why it struck me so deeply is hard to explain. I was in the moment and the ad did its work – it reeled me in and tugged at my strings.

But… I actually caught sight of the credits note at the end of the post and then proceeded to read both of the links included. Now, here was the “A-ha!” moment for me: to read, consider and truly contemplate different perspectives. I admire bloggers Jazz Brice and Kaye Toal and consider their willingness and openness absolute genius. Whether you agree with their point of view or not is here-say. What matters – what mattered for me – was that they allowed me to think about this crucial topic in a different light.

I won’t repeat all the things I agree with and I won’t try to dissect every little thing about the video and their responses. But, I will say that I think everyone, men and women, should take note of how “beauty” is addressed in this video and the responses to it, and should then address your own take on it.

Self confidenceIt made me take note of the sad fact that a majority of the time, if there is a discussion about beauty among my friends/family and I, the main topic is usually about what things we would change about ourselves if we could. Can you remember a time when the focus of a beauty discussion was about applauding your individual strengths? The things that you feel good about when it comes to your own appearance? I’d bet money that even Victoria’s Secret models have discussions about the things that they DON’T like about themselves.

And think about it, most of us would feel like we’d be perceived as conceited if we actually applauded the things we might consider positive and attractive about ourselves. And that my dears, is just plain sad. But it’s a sad truth about society today.

The main thing that I got from watching the Dove ad and reading these two fabulous responses, is the basic truth that beauty is in the eye of the beholder! And what a beautiful truth that is. People come in all different shapes, sizes and colors and daggomit, we’re all individually attracted to different attributes and qualities.

That’s another beauty in life: what I find attractive, you may not get at all and vice versa. To each his own! And now the kicker: the most important part is that we recognize that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder and then acknowledge our own individual beauty. And when I say that, I mean it… our own INDIVIDUAL, God-given, unique beauty. Not the society-imposed idea of beauty, but the beauty we know that we possess not only on the inside but on the outside, too. It’s not going to do us a bit of good to focus on the things we would change if we could and then punish ourselves over it. We should instead celebrate our own unique beauty and recognize it!  No racist or judgmental attitudes allowed.

Truly think about what your positives and celebrate those lovely qualities. Ask someone you love to tell you the things they adore about you, what catches their eye, what stands out and makes you beautiful to them. I bet you will be pleasantly surprised and most likely gain a new outlook on yourself.

Before bringing this blog entry to a close, I Googled images for “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder.” WOW. When I came across this quote by Salma Hayek I had another tear-jerker moment…

“People often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I saw that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder.”

How powerful is that?!  You are the beholder!  Talk about a “BOOM Yow” moment!!

There you have it. Liberate yourself, people, and realize that YOU are the beholder!!!  Some days it will be harder than others, but never lose sight of recognizing what you find beautiful in you. Allow your own unique beauty to bring you self confidence and you will radiate such loveliness. Be the beholder of your own beauty!