A lot of our ideas for what “pretty” is gets determined on the pages of magazines and the screens of our televisions. For little girls, even the dolls we play with say something about waistlines, eye shadow and super cool ponytails. However lots of things are changing for the better! Dove ads have revealed the beauty of everyday women. Clothing lines like Calvin Klein and H&M are featuring models long considered plus size (translation: sizes 6-10) in their campaigns. Now, even Barbie is getting a makeover. Continue reading
Imagine you could let all of your worries and troubles go for one second, what would that moment look like? A french non-profit called the Mimi Foundation gave 20 cancer patients that chance a few weeks ago.
As we come to the close of our week on stress, what would your carefree moment look like? If you could choose it, where would you be? What do you think would bring you that joy? Tell us in the comments below.
Two months ago 7 year old Tiana Parker was sent home from school because her hair cut was considered “distracting.” What was her haircut? Thin dreadlocks tied back in a bow. The Oklahoma public school that sent her home has a policy that says “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros and other faddish styles are unacceptable.” Really? Could they be any more blatantly racist? Afros are the natural style of many black women’s hair and you want to imply it’s distracting?
This issue hits particularly close to home. As a child of interracial marriage (my dad is black, my mom white) my hair was often an issue of contention. I was born with a full head of it. My mother’s family has thick hair, especially for Anglicans, which combined with the kinky curls of my dad’s DNA lead to this:
It only got thicker and more out of control from there. I was 15 before we decided to try relaxing my hair. I grew up in the south so having my white mom take me to a black hair salon to get a perm was always a level of complicated that would take a text book to explain. It cost $150 and took three and a half hours (did I mention my hair is really thick?) of me sitting in a chair with my scalp feeling like it was literally on fire. That painful tingle was the feeling of some magical concoction burning the ethnicity out of my hair. That went on once every 3-6 months for 7 years.
Why? Because I never felt pretty with my hair natural. I often make the comparison that my hair without a straightener looks like someone shoved my fingers into an electrical socket. All of the popular girls at school at stick straight shiny hair that they could wear down any time they liked. All the lead characters on my favorite tv shows were the same way – even the black characters had their hair shiny and straight instead of natural. All the weather has to do is think about drizzling and my hair becomes a seeing hazard for anyone walking behind me. Like Tiana’s school is trying to preach – I felt like I was a distraction. Even now I prefer my hair straight over curly (though to be honest, that also has a lot to do with the fact it’s cooler temperature wise if it’s not all bunched up on my head).
It’s because the message given to Tiana, and all other little girls attending that school, isn’t a new one. For generations little black girls, and minorities all over, have been under pressure to “white-ify” themselves to fit the beauty ideals we are bombarded with on a daily basis. From simple hair treatments like relaxers and extensions to the extreme of skin bleaching treatments. It’s often insidious – the fact we see so few black females rocking natural hairstyles in mainstream media. It’s a subliminal campaign. But this – Tiana’s case? There’s nothing undercover about it. We are telling girls in primary school that their natural beauty isn’t good enough, that it’s a distraction, that it’s ugly. And that’s a problem.
So take a second before you put on your make-up today. Look in the mirror, just look, before you style your hair. Tiana Parker isn’t a distraction. She’s beautiful. So are you, right now – naked and natural and flawless. Own that. You have to because there are a generation of girls growing up who are being told differently and we have to show them the truth. That job starts with us. Let’s do better than this.
The deeper message here is that we often hold these magazines and ads up as the epitome of beauty that we are supposed to replicate – but it’s impossible. Even the models that pose for the picture don’t meet these standards. So the real question is: why do we let images like these dictate what we think of ourselves? Let’s stop that.
What do you think of the video? Let us know in the comments below!
Many of us assume that buying the best shampoos and conditioners will be enough to keep our hair looking healthy. These products do help to repair existing hair damage but don’t do much to promote new hair growth and cannot replace essential vitamins that we may be missing from our diet. There are certain essential vitamins and minerals that our hair relies upon, and a lack of these is often the source of many hair growth problems. Some simple changes to our diet can really make a big difference to the look of our hair.
Modern lifestyles can also have an impact – a busy lifestyle, lack of sleep, or even pregnancy can seriously make a difference in our hair health. Vitamin supplements have been proven to help, but if you are looking for the most natural sources of these vitamins then here is a list of 5 food types foods that can help to provide those essential vitamins your hair needs.
Many sources site that salmon is the number 1 super food for healthy hair. This is because it contains a great combination of essential substances that our hair simply loves. Omega 3 oils help maintain a well hydrated scalp, and many believe this is essential to maintaining healthy hair growth. Oily fish such as herring, mackerel and sardines are rich in omega-3, and salmon is also rich in Vitamin D which is great for your hair follicles.
If you are someone who doesn’t like eating fish then certain vegetable sources can be a great way to get the omega-3 you need. Rapeseed, flaxseed, soya beans, walnuts, almond and even tofu are all good sources of Omega-3.
Vegetables with Beta-carotene
Beta carotene is present in many vegetables and provides us with a great source of Vitamin A. For many people who suffer from dandruff a simple addition of vitamin A to their diet can help solve the problem. Vitamin A helps to promote sebum oil which is our body’s natural conditioner for our scalp. It can also help with hair growth problems as it is said to assist with oxygenating our scalp. Sweet potatoes are known to be one of the best sources, and other vegetables such as carrots, spinach, and broccoli are also recommended.
Oysters are also recommended to help fight scalp problems such as dandruff. A lack of zinc in your diet may even be the cause of hair loss, and oysters have a particularly high zinc content. Zinc helps promote the level of androgens in our body, and for some people a low level of androgens has been directly linked to hair loss. Crab, liver and beef are also good sources of zinc.
Eggs and other biotin rich foods
Our hair is essentially built using protein, a nutrient that has been associated with speeding up hair growth. Protein can be found in many types of foods, but eggs are one of the best sources. Another important mineral in eggs is biotin, and those who have a biotin deficiency may suffer from brittle hair. To prevent this, biotin has been proven to be effective from both foods and supplements if needed. Kidney beans and nuts such as almonds and even peanuts are also good sources of biotin.
Fruit and vegetables with Vitamin C
Vitamin C is great for both our hair and skin. Vitamin C helps keep our blood vessels oxygenated, which in turn keeps our hair follicles healthy. Super fruits such as blueberries have a very high level of Vitamin C, and strawberries and citrus fruits are also good sources. Many vegetables such as green beans, spinach and broccoli are good sources, and the old-fashioned rule of eating colorful vegetables can give you a good indication of a high vitamin C content, as well.
You may have identified that one of these essential sources of vitamins is missing from your diet, and that may well be the cause of a particular problem. If you are concerned and believe you may have a nutrient deficiency then simple tests at your doctors can identify what vitamins and minerals you may be lacking. This Women’s Hair PDF can also help you to diagnose any hair health problems you may have!
We’ve all had times in our lives where we did not love ourselves. Sometimes, we hate to even look at ourselves in the mirror. But even so, I was surprised recently when I was teaching a Zumba class and I noticed one student left around 15 minutes into the class. The next week I received this email from him:
Thank you so much for the class. I chose to leave, and I wanted you to know it had very little to do with you, except for the fact that you chose to have us look in the mirror. I hadn’t remembered how awful I am in front of mirrors. I had to leave when I caught a glimpse of myself. It’s old stuff, but it’s a weak-spot for me. I cannot sustain, as of yet, images of my physical form in mirrors. I really appreciated the class and found your enthusiasm infectious. Thanks.”
I know how it feels. I have been there myself… and so I was compelled to reply:
“I believe you need to start working on self-love. Unless you are a vampire, you cannot avoid mirrors. Most gyms and fitness studios have mirrors; you can’t escape them. It’s not about vanity; looking in the mirror helps you improve your form and visually gauge your progress. If you don’t examine yourself, you have little indication of what to improve. You are here to realize your true potential, and looking at yourself in the mirror with love is a powerful tool. Love yourself no matter what, and be grateful for having a healthy body. Be grateful for the fact that you are able to move, to breathe, to simply be alive. When you appreciate what you have, you give up all of the guilt, blame, shame and self-criticism that do not serve you. The choice is yours; you can choose to live your life with your head in the sand, or to confront what you need to work on. In order to feel better, in order to become your dreams and live the life you deserve, you need to look at what is happening with you.”
Most nights I go on YouTube and listen to things that empower me, like Abraham Hicks, Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, and so on. We have all gone through difficult times in our lives. I know I have. But it is how you get up, not how you fall, that defines you. Getting up is what matters. Working on you is just how it sounds; it is work. But it is so worth it; meditation, self-exploration, dressing nicely, pampering yourself, working out and eating healthy food all make you vibrant and will change your life.
You need to want to change and YOU have to do the work, my dear. There is no magic pill. Life will put “mirrors” in front of you. People will reflect emotions back at you: when you are angry they will get angry back at you, and when you smile they will smile back. It’s all good because it helps you look at yourself and improve what you do not like to see in you. People also will reflect kindness at you, helping you to notice and appreciate your inner beauty. It’s up to you to “wake up”; open your eyes to the lessons and to a brighter reality. No seminar, self-help book, audio program, DVD, or human being will validate you. It will help direct you, but you need to validate and love yourself. It’s up to you. Believe in yourself like I believe in you.
When I was having difficulties with my self-worth, I learned an exercise called “mirror work” from Louise Hay. I did it when I was in a place in my life where not only could I not look at myself in the mirror, but I was walking with my head down! I remember when I started working on self-love and self-acceptance and saying “I love you” to myself in front of a mirror, I immediately started crying because I was so consumed with self-hate and self-judgment. I am happy to report that this affirmation (with some repetition) completely shifted my perspective. Today I love the girl I see in the mirror, even in pajamas and without make-up. Do this exercise every time you pass by a mirror, and I promise you, within just a couple weeks you can create a breakthrough for yourself.
Every day, look at yourself in the mirror and say out loud: “I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU NO MATTER WHAT.” When you hear that voice that says “Who are you kidding?” tell this voice “Thank you for sharing” and continue on. No matter what you did or did not do, you are worthy of love. If something good happened, run to the mirror and say “I love you, thank you.” If something bad happens, run to the mirror and say “I love you, I love no matter what.” Keep looking into your eyes with love and appreciation. You are worthy of love, just because you exist.
Remember this simple equation: work on your mind + work on your body + serve others = a life full of love and fulfillment.
I want to hear your stories. Please share how you found self-love and appreciation and any techniques that worked for you.
Right now I’m sitting on a yoga mat on the rooftop of 2309 Main Street in Santa Monica, California. Just below me is a giant red wall painted with the words “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL,” and there are two ten-foot tall inflatable dancing man balloons blowing in the wind beside me. There are men and women walking by on the sidewalk below, a beautiful community garden across the street. The ocean is just visible in the distance. This is #OccupyYouAreBeautiful.
Between today and Wednesday, September 18, this yoga mat will be my home. I will stay here all day and all night — I will eat here, sleep here, and I will be joined by yoga teachers, musicians, speakers, and other members of the community.
#OccupyYouAreBeautiful is a public demonstration of solidarity with people who struggle with food and body image issues on all ends of the spectrum. Together, we are taking a stand – for life, for happiness, and for the right for all people to feel beautiful in the bodies they inhabit.
The statistics around eating disorders in this country are discouraging. Nearly 24 million Americans suffer from eating disorders, and millions of others struggle with food and body image issues at a sub-clinical level. This disease kills nearly half a million people every year – daughters, sisters, brothers, friends, and spouses. That’s not okay. 32-year-olds shouldn’t be dying of starvation. 8-year-olds shouldn’t be vomiting to lose weight. This is not the kind of society I want to raise my kids in.
Over the past several years, I’ve built my life and career around helping others recover from this illness. I believe yoga can be a game-changer in the fight against eating disorders, and more importantly, I believe it can help shift the sociocultural dynamics that contribute to eating disorders to begin with. Yoga teaches critical skills for developing a healthy relationship with food and one’s body (which many of us never learn as children), and it can equip those who struggle with these issues with skills that pharmaceuticals, talk therapy, and other traditional forms of treatment simply do not provide.
That’s why I developed Yoga for Eating Disorders — to teach people who struggle with eating disorders practical tools for using yoga in their recovery. Specifically, the program teaches yoga-derived exercises for tuning into hunger and fullness signals, coping with difficult emotions, and learning to relate to the body as an ally rather than an enemy. The average cost of eating disorder treatment is $1,250 per day, and even at that rate over half of patients relapse after discharge. Eating disorders — from anorexia to binge eating — take a huge toll on our healthcare system. Yoga is a cost-effective way to teach those who struggle with these issues skills for long term recovery, potentially shortening treatment, reducing relapse, and ultimately saving lives.
On July 30th (my 24th birthday), I launched a crowd-funding campaign with the ambitious goal of raising $50K to take Yoga for Eating Disorders to treatment centers around the country at no charge, collect data for an evidence based study on its effectiveness in treatment, and offer pro-bono talks about eating disorder prevention at local schools in each city where the program is offered. We’ve raised almost $30K so far, but with only 4 days left in the campaign it’s time for something a little more drastic. It’s time to Occupy.
Inspired by my friend Will Baxter of the Don’t Let Will Die campaign, I am demonstrating my solidarity with eating disorder sufferers around the world by taking a stand. I invite you to take a stand with me – for life, for freedom, and for the belief that all people have the right to feel beautiful in the bodies they inhabit.
With less than 100 hours left in our campaign, I need your help. I will not let this campaign fail. This yoga mat saved my life once, and I’m not getting off it until other have the same opportunity.
Stand with me by donating today!
You can stand in solidarity with Chelsea and #OccupyYouAreBeautiful by making a donation, sharing this campaign with your friends and family, commenting on this page and visiting her at 2309 Main Street in Santa Monica, California. There is no reason this has to be the only #OccupyYouAreBeautiful. Host one in your own community!
Have you ever jumped to criticism after seeing someone with plastic surgery or hearing of a friend or relative’s decision to alter their appearance? Or if you have had cosmetic surgery, have you ever faced judgment from others for your decision?
Truth be told, plastic surgery is a controversial subject, and such responses are typical. In a compelling article from the September/October issue of Spirituality & Health magazine, one poignant story stands out:
“I was at a pub one night where I liked to sing karaoke with my friends, about six weeks after having breast implants,” says Michelle, 55, of Nevada. “There was a group of very competitive ‘mean girls’ who would come in. When I got up to sing, one of them said, ‘Whoa! How do you spell plastic surgery?’”
Women, is this really how we want to be treating one another? Does one person’s decisions need to perfectly align with our own beliefs in order for us to treat them with respect? Before we condemn the perceived vanity that goes into a decision to receive plastic surgery, let’s try on the hat of compassion and take a look at some of the real reasons people – women in particular – opt for that course of action.
Nearly 40% of the U.S. population is 45 years old and above, and 14.2% of American women are 65 years and over. Many of the cosmetic concerns women face in later years – wrinkles, sun spots, greying or thinning hair, loss of pigmentation – can be attributed to age, which, after all, is one of the most natural processes human beings go through. There is nothing inherently shameful about aging, and if anything it should be a source of pride. As Oprah Winfrey wrote recently in an article for Huffington Post:
I’m well aware that trying to stay fresh and current can be a challenge, especially if you live a lot of your life in public view. Of course I want to look my best. I want to feel strong and vibrant. But I know for sure that the pathway to your best life isn’t the route of denial. It’s owning every moment. Staking a claim in right now. And, with gratitude, embracing the age you are.
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, by far the largest age group for both surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures is 35-50 years of age, with the 51-64 age group following as second largest for nonsurgical procedures. Nonsurgical includes Botox injections, chemical peels, microdermabrasion and the like.
That means a sizable amount of women past their 40’s are looking in the mirror, feeling uncomfortable with how they look, and undergoing cosmetic alterations to their appearance. But even nonsurgical procedures are not devoid of risk. Such procedures can cause burns, scarring, darkening or lightening of the skin, and other unwanted side effects.
That’s not to say these procedures shouldn’t exist, but it’s important to fully understand what you’re getting into and ask yourself a few questions before choosing that path. For one, does your interest in cosmetic surgery arise out of deep introspection and soul-searching, or is it born of fear, shame, or insecurity? If the latter, explore some other options for increasing happiness and self-esteem, first.
As Jane Ganahl writes in Spirituality & Health:
Cultivate inner happiness by giving of yourself. Volunteer at a senior center, organize a book club, audition for community theater. Doing for others keeps you from obsessing about those crow’s-feet.
Buck the cultural impediments to visibility. Walk tall, refuse to take a table by the kitchen, make your opinions known. Change the way you look at yourself, and the world will change too.
What are your thoughts and experiences with cosmetic surgery? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!
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Spirituality & Health is a magazine for people who want to explore the spiritual journey and wake up to our capacity for self-healing, vitality, and resiliency. Read the entire article on plastic surgery in the September/October edition of Spirituality & Health, on newsstands now! Get your first issue FREE here.
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I’m always looking for new ways to wake up to the life in front of me. This week I started playing with the idea of “five beautiful things.”
In any moment, particularly if I’m feeling stressed or out of sorts, I look for five beautiful things in my midst. I really look at them. I take them in—not just with my eyes but also with my mind and my breath and my heart. I spend a few moments just looking.
This morning, I’m in a bustling café. It isn’t particularly beautiful. But in a moment of feeling kind of bummed out and rushed and anxious, the thought popped up: look for five beautiful things.
The moment I raise my head, I see the red-gorgeous leaves of the trees out the window. Intensely rich as bowl of dark cherries. Hovering slightly in the wind, patiently waiting for our attention. Bold and unapologetic as they wait. Had I looked at them before this morning? Yes. Had I seen them? No.
Next, the face two seats down from me at the café. Clear, pale, freckled, trustworthy, unusual and familiar feeling all at once. Beautiful.
The bright green skirt of the woman walking past me, the green of summer.
The photos above the espresso bar, which I’ve seen at least a hundred times before. Three in a row, frame in arches. In looking at them I start to appreciate the miracle of someone taking the photograph, and the miracle of someone else framing them that way, the miracle of someone conceiving a design for this place. And then I start to feel the miracle that it is all here, and I’m here too. The miracle of a Saturday morning that is, that is now.
By the time it’s time to look for item number five, everything is looking beautiful. The white coffee cup is beautiful. It’s all starting to feel vibrating and alive and miraculous and now. (And I’m not even caffeinated yet).
So number five is, shockingly, the stop sign, right outside the window. It’s become stunningly gorgeous sometime in the past five minutes. It probably couldn’t have been beautiful thing number one, but through these eyes it’s a vibrant red. It’s the perfect shape composed above the green vines below and the brick building behind.
I’m left with this: There’s a way in which life is about looking. Looking closely. Looking with the intention to see beauty. Looking with curiosity and alertness. Looking with reverence for now.
Looking changes everything.
Right now, before you finish reading this post, and click over to the next window, will you find five things of beauty, of striking mystery, in your midst? Five things that are amazing out of their aliveness? Start with one or two, and take them in through your eyes, your mind, your heart and your breath. Spend a few moments with each, and the rest will take care of themselves.
What does “life is about looking” mean to you?
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Tara Sophia Mohr is the founder of the global Playing Big leadership program for women and the author of the free 10 Rules for Brilliant Women Workbook. An expert on women’s leadership and well-being, Tara helps women play bigger in their work and in their lives. Visit www.taramohr.com to learn more.
Imagine you’re outside, by a beautiful lake, enjoying the perfection of your surroundings. You feel comfortable, relaxed, as if you are an important part of it all. You are so in tune that it is as if you can hear nature speaking to you.
You see a swan glide past, and the swan is thinking to itself: “How wonderful it is to be a swan. I can take my time; life is serene. I am graceful and lovely. All is right with the world.”
And then you notice an eagle flying high overhead, and the eagle is thinking: “Ah, what a joy it is to be an eagle. I am strong, and free. This is the life!”
A hummingbird flits past, and you can hear the hummingbird is thinking: “I’m having so much fun on this glorious day. There’s so much to see and do. I’m so glad I’m a hummingbird and can move easily to all the things I love.”
Everything in nature has a purpose. We’re all connected. Sitting amongst the trees and looking at the clear blue sky you know that you are an important part of this connection. You breathe deeply and feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and peace.
Now, imagine you’re in that same place, same time. When you hear nature speaking to you things are a bit different.
You see a swan glide past, and the swan thinks to itself: “Oh, my. Why am I stuck being a swan? I would so much rather be like that little hummingbird. I want to flit around like that! I feel so dumpy just floating here on this silly lake.”
Then the eagle flies overhead, and you read its thoughts: “Wow. Look at that swan down there. He’s got the good life. Why can’t I just hang out on the lake? Instead I’m up here working so hard. This isn’t fair. I’d rather be a swan.”
Then the hummingbird flits by and thinks: “Really? That eagle is so lucky. She’s way up there with a great vantage point. She can go so far without even flapping her wings. I’m down here pumping away a million beats a minute! Man, I want to be an eagle.”
Somehow, this second scenario just doesn’t make sense, does it? Because this is not how nature operates! And yet, this is exactly what we do as human beings all the time. We fight our own nature. We compare ourselves to one another. We think we need to always be thinner, more beautiful, more successful, more something, anything! When the truth is that we are inherently perfect. If we are carrying around excess weight, or stress, or feeling bad about ourselves it is because we are out of balance, our lives are out of balance in one way or another. We can find that perfect state of balance, and regain our strength and confidence and energy to be the best that we can be.
The most important thing we can do for ourselves, to be our healthiest and happiest, body, mind, and spirit, is to know who we are. Some of us are swans, some of us are eagles, and some of us are hummingbirds. Each being is valid, each being has value, and each being brings his or her unique gifts to the world. When we know ourselves, and our own nature, we allow the best of ourselves to shine through. Nature operates through us. So why are we fighting it?
Ayurveda is the 5,000 year old “Science of Life” from India. It explains the nature of everything in the universe. It teaches us how to live in harmony with nature, knowing the connections that we share. Ayurveda is all about balance, and this is something we are in dire need of today.
There are a lot of things that take us away from our state of balance. We are overstressed and overworked. We overeat and are overweight. We over exert ourselves and overspend so that we end up tired, hungry, in debt and living in a mess. Look at all the extra “stuff” we carry around with us. We need to lighten up! We need to shed the stress, the pounds, the debt, and the distractions and focus on what is good for us, what serves us. Food is a huge part of all this. We use food to soothe our emotions, to fill up our tummies when we feel a lack in some part of our lives. We fall into habits, with food and otherwise, that we think are easy, and they become mindless and robotic so that we don’t see any other possibilities or potential for ourselves.
It’s time to get back to nature, to get back to basics, to get back into balance. And what better way than by turning to a practice that has been tried and true for all these centuries? Ayurveda is a “sister science” with yoga and meditation. As we experience the benefits of these practices in our lives we naturally want to learn more – and that’s where Ayurveda is positioned right now.
Twenty years ago or so here in the west Feng Shui was a foreign concept – but now it’s a part of our every day vernacular. If you haven’t heard of Ayurveda yet – now you have! And if you haven’t lived the Ayurveda lifestyle yet, I encourage you to try it now. Lots more info in my new book, The Perfect Balance Diet: 4 Weeks to a Lighter Body, Mind, Spirit & Space and on my new website: perfectbalancediet.com