When I started dieting, I stopped looking in the mirror and seeing myself: the vibrant, accomplished, happy young woman that I am proud to be. I stopped seeing myself and I started to see my belly that sticks out… and then I wondered, how long will it take to work that belly away? I started to see my rounded calves and imagine how much cuter they would look if they were slim and shapely. I looked at my arms and saw flab to tone away, looked at my thighs and saw a jiggle that had to be stilled, looked at my face and saw puffy cheeks that needed to be drained… the more I looked, the more I broke myself down into parts, problem areas with targeted exercises to go with them.
I started out trying to feel better in my body (and yes, also trying to make a skirt fit the way it used to) and managed, somehow, to unravel so much of the progress I’ve made over the past six years; as if that skirt, that decision, was a loose thread that I pulled just a little too hard, tearing everything apart.
So this is much more belated than I would have hoped but, congrats everyone, Self-Esteem Awareness Month is over! My hard-drive crashed a little over a week ago which is why I stopped posting every day, but I have a new one now so posting here should resume as my class schedule will allow. I honestly don’t have much to say right now, this has been a month of ups and downs and unfortunatley, the whole project sort of overwhelmed me towards the end. I will say I have seen progress in myself, however, as yesterday I threw on a skirt that I haven’t worn in two summers because I felt it was too short and didn’t look good on my “fat legs.”
But I wore it yesterday, and I felt good in it. That’s progress.
I hope this little experiment has been helpful to other people as well, even though it got derailed in its last week or so.
Thanks for participating!
Today’s Task: Calculate the amount of money you haven’t spent this week because you’ve abstained from using one beauty supply (starting on the 22nd, remember?) Now, find a cause that you care about and donate that money that you saved or even more, if you are in a position where you can financially manage it, to that cause. Which action makes you feel better about yourself as a person – using the product(s) or donating the money to a worthy cause? You may not stop using the product(s) in question after this exercise, that doesn’t matter, what’s important is your understanding of the relationship between self esteem and your daily beauty rituals/acts of kindness.
Some Charity Ideas:
- Small Can Be Big is an organization that works “closely with case managers to find families who can truly benefit from a one-time charitable donation.” When you go onto the site you can choose a family in need of help to buy a car, escape an abusive relationship, keep the electricity on, keep a roof over their heads, pay off medical bills, and so on. Your gift goes directly to the landlord, hospital, company, etc. that is awaiting their payment and you get to walk away knowing that you’ve been a part of an effort to help a deserving family or individual deal with life’s unexpected difficulties.
An example of a family featured on the site: “Music and love hold this family together. They’ve faced trials over the past year that would tear apart any family, let alone a single mom and her three kids. The youngest child, a 3-year-old girl, was diagnosed with autism and lead poisoning from paint in their rented home. Unexpectedly, finding a new, safer home became a priority. Unfortunately, due to the amount of time the medical appointments required, Mrs. S lost her job of 15 years.
With your help and $1,500 by July 31st, Mrs. S will move her family out of harm’s way into a new apartment. Mrs. S has been given much to bear, but she can and will rise above it with the love of her children, her own capabilities and some help from you.”
- Alley Cat Rescue is an organization that works to protect cats on two levels both locally (“through rescue, rehabilitation and adoption of cats”) and nationally (“through a network of Cat Action Teams.”) Alley Cat Rescue “is dedicated to the health, well-being and welfare of all cats: domestic, stray, abandoned and feral.”
- If you’re not interested in donating to this organization but you still want to donate to an animal related charity then I would advise looking at Animal Charities of America -for links to many more animal related charities! Some other cool ones include Canine Assistants, Farm Sanctuary, and the National Aviary. (Side-note: I’d advise participants to give a good look to PETA’s highly sexist practices of objectifying women in order to gain attention for many of their protests before donating any money them. There are many effective and less offensive alternatives to PETA – consider giving them your money instead.)
From their website: “The Center for Reproductive Rights uses the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right that all governments are legally obligated to protect, respect, and fulfill. Reproductive freedom lies at the heart of the promise of human dignity, self-determination and equality embodied in both the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Center works toward the time when that promise is enshrined in law in the United States and throughout the world. We envision a world where every woman is free to decide whether and when to have children; where every woman has access to the best reproductive healthcare available; where every woman can exercise her choices without coercion or discrimination. More simply put, we envision a world where every woman participates with full dignity as an equal member of society.”
- “Action Against Hunger’s 6,000+ field staff work in some 40 countries to carry out innovative, lifesaving programs in nutrition, food security, water and sanitation, health, and advocacy. [Their] programs reach some 5 million people a year, restoring dignity, self-sufficiency, and independence to vulnerable populations around the world.”
If none of these catch your interest Charity Watch is a great research tool that lists many charities, based on their (high) ratings from the American Institute of Philanthropy. It’s a good place to get an idea of different causes you could donate to & find honest and effective charities within that area to donate to!
(All three of these just seemed to go together, so I posted them together!)
August 23rd - In the morning, choose a person that you know you will see that day and resolve to brighten their day in some way – big or small. Observe how doing this makes you feel about yourself. Repeat, if you have the time & desire.
August 24th – Try the Strange(rs) No More challenge that I started on this blog almost a year ago: Think of someone you don’t like; someone who makes you nervous, uncomfortable; someone who is just so different from you that there’s no way you’ll ever get along; someone who is weird; someone who challenges your beliefs; someone who bullied you; someone you’ve never met. Now, talk to them. Invite them for coffee. Go for a walk. Get to know them. This assignment is about knocking down walls, about wrapping our hearts around someone we never would have tried to meet normally. About confronting our prejudices head on with real, human interaction. It’s about giving ourselves over to love, for everyone, so that others might try the same.
So I’m being honest, I TOTALLY failed today in an epic fashion. It was just one of those crappy days – I woke up sunburned, sore, and with absolutely no momentum so I blew off blogging and snapped at people all day. It wasn’t until I got on here just a minute ago (five minutes past midnight, I might add) that I realized what today’s task was and how badly I really had messed it up. So tomorrow I’m going to do all three – I’m going to make amends with people I haven’t been getting along with and I’m going to go out of my way to improve the days of the people I snapped at yesterday, as well as everyone else, as a way of making amends and (belatedly) completing the task.
I really need to remember how much better I feel about life & myself when I’m being nice to people.
August 25th – Do your best to leave every person/situation you encounter today just a little bit better than they/it was when you arrived!