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Childhood memories are vivid, almost indescribable in their detail, and impossible to forget. A Christmas memory I have is that of a black velvet dress  a family friend gave to me for my seventh Christmas.
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Do We Have To Be Perfect To Accept Ourselves?

Submitted by on June 30, 2011 – 4:38 am30 Comments

latinas on body image

Ed. Note: This essay is part of the series, Accepting the Self: Latinas on Body Image. To enjoy the full series, please read the introduction.

Alexandra, Good Day Regular PeopleIf women were to be asked the question, “Would you like yourself better if you were your idea of perfect?”  would the majority reply yes?

Sadly, I think they would.

There is something about the idea of being physically perfect that makes us think it would bring us happiness. If we were our ideal weight, toned, perfectly breasted and perfectly legged, then our troubles would be over

In my culture, a womanly figure: round, curvaceous and bursting at the seams, is what is prized. I have always been the opposite: boyish in my appearance. Though my mother meant it as only teasing, my tender adolescent ego was bruised often by her comment of “larga, flaca, y amarilla,” when I’d walk by.

We, as women, think that if we were to be our ideal of beauty, that we’d have it all. The reality is that even in states, like California – which has the highest percentage of cosmetic surgeries per year- the rate at which cosmetic procedures are performed there, keeps increasing. The more perfection we can buy, the more we want to keep buying. Seeking beauty can become a bottomless cup that is never filled.

What is it that we want to be able to have, that we think we can buy? It’s happiness with who we are.

We imagine how happy we would be if all we ever wanted to look like, we had. Perfectly beautiful, perfectly happy, right?

Imagine how happy we could be if we appreciated and respected what we looked like now? If what we had now, we saw as perfectly beautiful.

With just a flip in our self perception, we can begin toward having satisfying, contented acceptance.

Even if we were the type to have annual surgeries to tweak this and that, there would always be the want of something more. Something else to work on, be unhappy about, to wish for. Is there a way to ever be fully satisfied?

What if we were to start thinking that we are meant to be, just the way we are? I think about filling out a sheet, where we write down all that is right with us. We have spent so much time noting all the things that are not right with us, I wonder how often we think, “This is what I like about me.”

I know I am guilty of mentally documenting what I see as physical shortcomings. I truly don’t remember the last time I thought to myself, “I really like how curly my hair is.”

There is an instant, inexpensive, safe, and readily available way to like what we see in the mirror: smile at ourselves and and think, “I am who I was made to be.”

Alexandra is a first-generation American raising three boys full time, while she caters part time. She lives with her husband and children in a small Wisconsin town and writes of the sweet and the funny at her humor site, Good Day, Regular People. She is a regular contributor to the Tiki Tiki.

Latinas on Body Image

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30 Comments »

  • Alexandra says:

    Thank you for doing this campaign of “loving ourselves as we are.”

    You do so many wonderful things for us, TikiTiki.

    It is always an honor to be seen on your pages.

  • You are so right about there always being something. I love the idea of doing a “things I like about me list.” (I am seeing a blog series with linky potential!!—what do you think?)

  • liz says:

    This is so great, Alexandra. It’s a very important message, and one that is SO often lost on us. I really like your idea of focusing on the “right” and “good” instead of searching for imperfections. There will always be imperfections.

  • I had a very healthy body image for much of my life, but that’s been challenged since I had kids and saw my body stretch (and clump!) in ways that I didn’t necessarily like. I’m working now to celebrate the changes that have happened and focus on being healthy rather than being thin.

    I think you make a great point in your post about how different cultures have different standards of beauty: one woman’s “fat” can be another woman’s “thick.” If only more media and more of us could embrace your slogan here – “I am who I was made to be” – maybe we could shift to a place where each individual could create her own personal standard of beauty.

    Brava y muchas gracias, Alexandra!

  • “I am who I was made to be.” I’m going to write this on a Post-It and put it on my bathroom mirror. And on my nightstand. And perhaps, on my forehead written backwards to read it in said mirror. It’s easiest to find the negative instead of the positive and I’m guilty of this. Thanks for the reminder. :)

    I love this post. So beautifully written.

  • Alexandra says:

    Muchas gracias, Motherese!

    Cultural differences.

    I am thin, which is valued in mainstream America…whereas in my Colombian culture, it is the voluptuous which is prized.

    How about we just value Healthy??

  • Trisha says:

    Nthing is more important than our health. Bodies come in all different shapes and sizes. But we have one body and need to take care of it so that we are there to see our grandchildren someday. If it means exercise and eating right – so be it. Nothing of value comes without work and if the work it takes to stay healthy means living a longer healthier life, count me in!

  • Bossy Betty says:

    A message we all need to remember from time to time! Beautifully written.

  • Lori Dyan says:

    Oh Alexandra…

    If I knew then what I know now: I would’ve spent my 20′s walking around naked. 24/7. Thanks for the reminder to appreciate what we have :-)

  • anymommy says:

    I love the last line. So very true and worth repeating to ourselves every morning in front of the mirror.

  • Anna Lefler says:

    This is fabulous (but then that’s no surprise, coming from Alexandra)!

    I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t struggle with these issues. It’s so easy for the quest to better ourselves and be our best selves to get slightly off-track and turn into a quest to “fix” all the things that are “wrong” with us.

    This piece is a lovely reminder to us all not to overlook the many, many things that are right and perfect about ourselves.

    Cheers, Alexandra!

    XO

    A.

  • I think we women are always too hard on ourselves. We will always find fault even if we think we ‘fixed’ what we didn’t like.

    So thank you for this, thank you for reminding us that we do need to be thankful for who we are, that we are meant to be as we are.

  • julie says:

    Oh how I wish I could take these words and imprint them onto my brain. I want to stop looking at my face with regret over the aging I see there.

    I’ve learned to embrace my body, hair, imperfections (mostly). But the crows feet around my eyes, the wrinkles forming around my lips, the furrow of my brow?

    Those I could do without.

    I know. It’s a sign of a beautiful live lived; of wisdom that comes with experience; of smiles and thoughts and emotion.

    But I live in Southern California where a large number of women around me have given in to the siren’s call of plastic surgery. (I wonder how many of them realize it looks fake, not beautiful???)

    So far, I’ve completely resisted (although I’ve JOKED about Botox etc.).

    I think I would be perfectly okay with growing older gracefully if I felt like ANYONE else were doing it with me!

    Are you with me?

    Anyone? Anyone?

    XOXO

  • brian says:

    i hear you…i think we have been sold a false sense of what beauty really is in our society…sure you can blame media but also parents and social influences…we miss things like that curly hair that accentuate our own beauty…

  • Suniverse says:

    Love this. So much.

    I’m not happy with how I look now, but it’s mostly an issue of my body not doing what I want it to do [i.e. go dancing all night] [not that I can, because I am a tired old lady, but still].

  • So true, my dear friend, why don’t I do that more often? Look in the mirror and smile? And cosmetic procedures are just the band-aid on the emotional dam, aren’t they? I see people who are supremely self-confident just the way they are and they radiate beauty. This is what I aspire towards.

  • [...] Dominican who would appreciate a few “Que Dios te bendiga” for her petite curves. Alexandra Rosas Shultze, a regular Tiki Tiki contributor, asks: What would happen if we looked in the mirror and celebrated [...]

  • Kir says:

    I talk alot about the way that young women views themselves and how we have to change that perception, but I know that even as I spout those ideas and thoughts, wave my “MINOR IN WOMEN’S STUDIES” around, I also know that I am not always happy with myself.

    I am CURVY…very curvy , everything you are not and I wish it away for a trim waist, a bust line that is a C rather than a heavy D, A new nose etc.

    But what is funny is that in many ways I love myself, I love my hair (this haircut is literally one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself) and when I’m dressed and in heels (which is almost every day) I feel “GOOD” not “PERFECT” not “The IDEAL” but ‘Good” and that somedays is just enough to make me happy about those size 12 curves, but I do wish to be a 10 or 8.

    *sigh*

    Plus I also want the boys to grow up knowing that a skinny woman isn’t what perfection is all about, that the right woman comes in all sizes and shapes, it’s her inside that makes her beautiful. When I am down on myself I remember how that looks to GIo and Jacob and I let them tell me how “BOOTIFUL” I am to them.

    and you, Alexandra, are BOOTIFUL too. ;)

  • Incredible post! Thank you so much for sharing!!

    I was just at the gym pool this week with my kids, and there were some women there in their 40′s that totally looked like they had teenager bodies.

    I. Was. Jealous.

    I know that I am not *suppose* to be. I am a healthy weight with muscular arms and legs . . . and a never-going-to-be-flat belly with post-nursing boobs.

    Just as I was catching myself of being jealous, I reminded myself that if looking like that was worth the price of admission? Would it be worth it to spend endless hours at the gym, eating nothing, and getting surgery.

    No. It’s not. Not for me.

    I want to be a healthy role model for my kids, and I think that part of that is accepting who you are.

  • [...] a tweet from one of my favorite bloggers, The Empress, about a post she had written about accepting ourselves despite our imperfections. There was something about her message, not a particularly new message…but an extremely [...]

  • Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful post. I think the last line sums it up — “I am what I was made to be.” Important reminder, and thanks for a lovely article that reminds us there is only one way to be happy with ourselves… So appreciated!

  • [...] a tweet from one of my favorite bloggers, The Empress, about a post she had written about accepting ourselves despite our imperfections. There was something about her message, not a particularly new message…but an extremely important [...]

  • [...] you know how Just.Be.Enough got it’s start? Our amazing founder, Elena, was inspired by a post she read and turned it into a blog meme about things we like about ourselves. She challenged us as [...]

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