the nest

the nest

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


The last few mornings as I've had my coffee, snuggled with the puppy and watched the TODAY Show, they've been doing these segments on Selfies.  The focus has been on "natural" selfies.  The anchors all showed themselves with no make up; then they quickly put it back on again.  People out on the street have been taking off their make-up, taking selfies, and having them show up on giant screens in NYC.  They have invited viewers to do the same and send in their "selfies."  Today a group of women over 40 talked about what they did and didn't like about themselves - baggy eyes, baggy belly's, etc.. They talked about feeling invisible. Then they took selfies which showed up….. on giant screens - not invisible anymore!  It's all about owning oneself, the good the bad and the ugly.  They've referenced a great photo project that involved Mothers and Daughters and selfies.  Really cool project.

With two teenage girls and a history of struggling with body image myself, I've become increasingly aware of how I speak about myself and others in terms of appearance.  Once in a while I slip.  At the mall the other day, I commented on the number of people wearing crop tops who SHOULD NOT be wearing crop tops.  My 17 year old turns to me and scolds me for being judgmental.  I was.  Besides the fact that it's CT and it's winter so crop tops are not weather appropriate, not everyone needs to share their belly.  Honestly it's none of my business but I was hormonal and spending a lovely day at the mall with 3 teenage girls.  I apologized.

I think I've gotten better about keeping my body criticism about myself, to myself.  My girls know that while I would love to have a smaller butt there are quite frankly more important things in my world and in the grand scheme of things, I'm doing alright for 45.  I want them to be strong and confident and to love their bodies, and so far, they seem to be OK in this department.

But would I take off my makeup and take a selfie for the world to see?  Nope.  I've worn make up since I was in Jr. High and my mom let me start wearing blush after I got sent to the school nurse too many times because I was "pale".  Mascara has always been my friend and even if I don't manage anything else, I rarely skip the mascara.  It's not that I think I "need" make-up, it's just part of me and sometimes its fun.  If I don't "need" it though why the complete refusal to take a selfie of my natural unmade up self?   I think I look more awake, more "put together", more me.  I do go without make-up sometimes - when I spend a few weeks in New Hampshire at Camp Calumet I rarely wear make-up (except maybe mascara).  So what's the big deal with one stupid picture?

I simply don't care.  I have no problem with pictures, but I prefer them with my family, my friends, my dogs.  I don't feel the need to take a picture of myself to see myself with or without makeup.  I can look in a mirror anytime I want.  The very word "selfie" is annoying me.  I have raised my children (and continue to do so) with the idea that they are NOT the center of the universe, mine or anyone else's.  They are a part of an amazing community of people and while it is important to take care of oneself, it is equally (if not more important) to take care of others.  When we focus so much on ourselves, we lose purpose and perspective.

I want my children to care for themselves but not be obsessed.  I want them to take pride in what they do, but not gloat.  I want them to reach their goals, but not at the expense of those around them.  Being self-obsessed is developmentally appropriate at certain ages, but isn't our goal as parents to help our children move past that stage?

It makes it hard when the media and pop culture seems so completely obsessed with youth, beauty, and SELF.  How about OTHERS?  I know there needs to be balance, and that some self-care is essential.  Women are often terrible at taking care of themselves and you know the whole airplane story about putting the oxygen on yourself first?  But I see people out in the world, women in particular who become so focused on caring for themselves, that they forget about the OTHERS.  Getting my nails done when I'm feeling blue helps me feel better for a little bit.  Buying someone else a cup of coffee or listening to a friend who needs to talk makes me feel better a lot longer.

I love the Random Acts of Kindness movement and the newer Suspended Coffees page on Facebook.  Helping OTHERS doesn't have to be a big deal, but it can improve your SELF in a very real way.  Think about the Golden Rule: Treat OTHERS the way you want to be treated.  How about "Love thy neighbor as thyself."  This is nothing new.  This is OLD STUFF.  We just forget sometimes when we live in a world that bullies us into focusing on ourselves.  Wear make-up if you feel like it, not because Maybelline says you should.  Exercise because it feels good, not because Planet Fitness says you should.  Care for yourself and others but don't obsess about either too much.

Love others, love yourself ~ care for others, care for yourself ~ be kind to others, be kind to yourself ~ forgive others, forgive yourself.

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