Let’s talk about…our bodies

 

Really?  Talk about our bodies?  In a public space where other people might be listening?

It’s one of those topics that so many women find difficult.  My earliest memories of talking about my body feel embarrassing and uncomfortable.  Hushed tones, fast spoken questions like “is it meant to hurt when I touch my boobs?” and “can you use a tampon if you’re still a virgin?” usually accompanied by giggles and exaggerated suggestions of expertise from equally bewildered friends.  We certainly never spoke to a grown-up about the changes we were experiencing in our bodies and the way we perceived them.

I remember the one attempt I made to ask my grandmother about periods; the result was a trip to a book shop where she purchased “what’s happening to me?” and handed it to me, under the table, in a brown paper bag. I kid you not!  The very idea of speaking to my mother was, in my mind, ridiculous.  It took me four months to tell her I’d started my periods (aged just nine) and almost as long to agree with her that I had to start wearing a bra to my junior school.

Yet as we age, as we learn how often the questions and fears we had about our bodies growing up, are shared by other women, do we actively do something to change this for future generations?  I’m confident I had more conversations with my daughter than I experienced;  I’m also sure there were plenty of things I didn’t tell her that  could have helped her to leave those concerns to one side.

How do we start to have these difficult conversations?  We can choose to be the ones to tackle them with our daughters and our friends.  I recently suggested to a life-long friend that we go and treat ourselves to some gorgeous new undies.  I was met with a less than enthusiastic “Okay.”  When I asked if I’d made a bad suggestion, she admitted that she’d always hated buying underwear.  “What, even the gorgeous girlie variety that lifts them to where they used to be?” I asked.  That’s when she told me that she felt awful buying bras because her left breast was larger than her right one and she felt like “some kind of freak” (her words).  When I told her that it was my right one that was larger she replied “Seriously?  You’ve got one bigger than the other too?  But you’ve got fabulous boobs!”

It’s extremely common.  Most women have one breast larger than the other; I’m told it’s often on the side of your writing arm.  Makes sense.  My friend said it made sense too.  She also told me she’d felt like this since we were 17.  That’s almost 30 years.  30 years of feeling negative about her body because nobody had told her it was normal.

Seems to me, it’s time to start those difficult conversations and talk about our bodies.  How will you start yours?

Dinah x

 

Give the gift of saying “Thank You”

accepting a compliment with a simple Thank You can feel difficult,  Accept that it's not about you.

“Really? What this old thing?”
“You’re joking, this makes my bum look enormous!”
“That’s sweet of you to say; when did you last get your eyes tested?”……

Sound familiar?  What is it that makes it so hard to accept a compliment at face-value and respond with “Thank you”?  What is the force that prevents so many women enjoying something that was intended to lift their day, to acknowledge something about them that prompted another person to say “Wow!”?

For many years I was convinced that accepting a compliment with a “thank you” was somehow saying “I know.  Yes, I am fabulous, thanks for noticing”;  of course, in my head this was done in a highly dramatic arrogant tone that was, frankly, repulsive.  I visualised people walking away and whispering to each other “I only said it to make her feel better!”  And of course, I gained little from these encounters except an opportunity to emotionally beat myself up, to remind myself I felt less than pretty, less than perfect.

Then I learned an interesting lesson from a friend;  accepting a compliment is not about ME.  When I allow someone to tell me I look great and greet this with a smile and a “Thank you”,  I give them a gift.  When people pay us a compliment, they do so with the intention of lifting our mood, making us feel great, making us glow.  When we treat that compliment, that gift, with contempt, we are showing them we don’t trust them, don’t value them.

When we accept the praise and the compliment, we allow them to enjoy that moment when someone unwraps a gift and you know you found exactly the right thing; they smile, the smile travels to their eyes which start to shine, they want to hold the gift up and show the world and you know that they understand why you chose it, that you’ve been paying attention, that they matter to you.

Focus on the person paying you the compliment today and thank them for taking the trouble to choose the perfect gift by giving them one in return – you’ll be surprised the impact “Thank you” can have on you both.

Dinah x

You are allowed to be you

I loved Toyah as a teenager; I still do.  Her hair (of course) and make-up, but also her power, her self-confidence, her rebel-quality.  I looked up to her and emulated her style with more and more outrageous hair-cuts and colours that resulted in the inevitable suspensions from my posh school for young-ladies.  Result!

Toyah showed me I was allowed to be myself at a time when I was struggling against conformism and struggling to find my identity.  To find myself; a time experienced by so many of us as teenagers or young adults.  It’s also something we experience as “grown-ups”; that sense of wanting to fit-in, or stand out, for the right reasons.  I think one of my greatest fears in my early forties was hearing “mutton dressed as lamb” when someone described me.  Hannah, my daughter, became my “mutton meter” always guaranteed to tell me the truth about my outfits.  Indeed, she helped me see that my fears were holding me back from expressing my personality as I always used to, in my bright colours and outrageous hair cuts.

When I turned 45 last year, I was rooting through my CDs and came across this track.

I was reminded how empowered I’d felt by the words and the by the woman.  I re-connected with that permission to express myself, to be myself.  I was allowed to be me.

I recently had a dramatic change thanks to my hairdresser; I went from rich red to platinum blonde – it took four hours and a serious sense of humour, but it was worth it.  I was born a blonde although many people in my networks are seeing me this way for the first time and I’m loving their reactions.  They’ve all commented on how confident I am.  My husband can’t stop paying me compliments.  I’ve allowed myself to be me and I’m loving it.

How will you allow yourself to be you today?  I’d love to hear from you

Dinah 🙂

Time to review…

As we approach the end of 2012, it’s a great time to take a life review; I  like to think of this process as a “Life RevYou” it’s not about goals you set and whether you’ve achieved them, or berating yourself for the things you didn’t get done.  A Life RevYOU is about YOU.  How far you’ve come in your life and where you want to go.  You the person, you the woman.

I find it helpful to start with photos.  I’ve been looking at pictures with my brother when I was four and he was six.  The way he holds my hand in almost every picture, already taking the role of protector.  I think of the slight lisp I had, the hearing problems that made me reluctant to speak up and how much that has changed!  Being a visual person, I love to surround myself with pictures so I create a board with pictures that show me my journey as part of my Life RevYOU.

Next, write yourself a letter.  Address it to “Dear You” and let you know all the things you’re proud of.  The things you know have taken courage to overcome, the little things that nobody else will know are a struggle for you or take determination to complete.  Let yourself know how great you’re looking – go on, it’s for your eyes only.  Remind yourself of the daily tasks you complete, that are routine to everyone else, and how important they are.  My letter to myself from last year is still on my wall in the office.  I glow every time I read it.

The final part of the RevYOU is to be honest about where you’re going from here.  What do you want to add to that letter next year?  What one thing are you going to do more of to increase your own sense of worth, your own well-being?  Remember, the smallest steps are the most important, so set yourself something you are not only able to achieve, but committed to achieving.  Mine for 2013 is this “I’m proud of you for taking swimming up again, I know that was a big step, that you overcame lots of personal fears and you stuck with it.”

I’d love to know how you get on with your own Life RevYOU.

Dinah 🙂