Every day, women are bombarded with the message that they aren’t enough for the world as they are. Our hair isn’t straight enough or curly enough; our eyes aren’t the right color; our legs are too long or too short; we are too smart or not smart enough; we are too thin or aren’t thin enough. The list goes on and on, and there are many markets that seize upon our insecurities and magnify them. Now we should all know that one shouldn’t look at a magnified mirror too often lest we begin to think that our perceived imperfections become our reality.
Sadly, I know this pressure to be perfect all too well having grown up at an girl’s school where perfection was the golden standard by which we were all judged. According to my classmates and teachers, and therefore to myself, I came up embarrassingly short on the list and I had a difficult time believing in my own beauty or worth through my geeky braces and glasses, despite having a strong, positive mom and grandmother around me. The other cacophony of messages was simply louder than theirs. It has taken me many years, and much struggle, to come to realize that while I am not perfect, I do not have any desire to be so. Our imperfections and quirks are what make us individuals. Why do we strive to be a cookie-cutter image of a magazine model, when it is merely a contrived image of a fake ideal?
Young women growing up today have many more challenges with their self-image than I ever did, as the internet all too often becomes a pathway to bullying and despair that they don’t “measure up”. It seems apt to me, then, that today’s Monday Miracle organization aims straight at the heart of these problems. As a social action campaign, Miss Representation seeks to empower women of all ages, finding actions and steps we can all take to foster healthy body images and ideas of self-worth in young girls and women alike, as well as taking on sexism wherever it exists. Inspired by a 15-year-old named Shea Backes, their current “Take 5 Campaign” asks us to bring a conscious eye to our daily routines with the number five in mind–can we reduce our makeup spending by $5? Or spend five less minutes to get ready? Or eliminate five products from your makeup routine? The purpose of this challenge is to shift our focus away from habits that remind us to grasp at our perfect ideal. As the women at Miss Representation wrote in the campaign announcement email, “When you consider how many other ways society seems bent on holding women back, it’s a shame that we spend so much of our time on outer beauty. What might be possible if we used that time to educate ourselves, help others or solve some of the world’s problems instead?” We are all perfectly imperfect, and I for one, want to live my life loving my quirks instead of trying to be someone or something I’m not. It certainly feels better to put my time into actions that make positive changes instead of trying to perfect the color on my eyelids.
This challenge very much made me think about my daily habits and how I could add some more positivity to my life. As I don’t wear makeup (I steal my mom’s mascara when I absolutely want to wear some!), I can’t spend less money on products or less time on getting ready or reduce the number of products I use. Instead, I’ve chosen to take five minutes a day to meditate on some good old love of self. Mind you, not the selfish, unaware of others kind of attention, but instead practicing some more thoughts of self-worth. Starting a company such as Sustainable Shanti is inevitably exhilarating and simultaneously stressful: taking five minutes in my day to ground myself will not only benefit me, but also ultimately the company’s future.
So tell me, will you take Miss Representation’s challenge? And if you decide to join us change-makers, what habit will you transform by the number five? Share your ideas in the comments below!
As always…be well, do good, and spread the love!