If I were to put my finger on your beauty pulse, what would it read?
I know that mine runs the gamut, day in and day out. Sometimes I find myself to be an utterly delicious confection, and other days I am rummaging through the back of my psychic closet to find something, anything, to make me feel remotely pretty. And what I know for sure is that it’s not just me.
The other day, I overheard a woman telling her friend she’d decided to join a gym, “I’m so excited about how sexy I’m going to be.” Oh, sister, I’ve had thoughts like that too, and made plans like that, too — and then I remember what I know and what I teach.
There’s no “going to be.”
I don’t blame women for not feeling beautiful, sexy, worthy, enough.
The “beauty industry” rakes in billions and billions and billions of dollars (445 billion, the last time I googled) each year. There is a lot of money to be made.
(By men, mostly.)
When women feel less-than.
When we believe our bodies are wrong.
The advertising industry is in bed with the beauty industry, and their pillow talk ain’t pretty. They dream up slick and slicker ways of telling us, we, as we are, are wrong.
We are too big.
We look too old.
Our breasts are too small too flat too low.
Our cellulite – that 90% of us have – is too ugly.
Our bellies, too soft.
The criticism can feel relentless.
And all of this. All of this. All of this is designed to tell you and me,
Hey honey, you’re unf*ckable.
Or, when they don’t want to be so obvious about it, it’s more like
Hey honey, you could be more f*ckable if only you were different from how you are.
(And we can fix it for you; hey, where’s your purse?)
And what that’s code for is something deeper.
The thing advertisers know we secretly fear.
The possibility that we are unlovable.
It is a lie.
But it’s a lie that we’ve heard so many times — maybe from our own mothers and sisters and friends, too — it can seem to hold a ring of truth.
Maybe if I just start Pilates… or buy that expensive “anti-wrinkle” cream… or squeeze into those inhumanly tight, butt-lifting undergarments …
I’ll be lovable/beautiful/sexy/desirable when ______________.
You can probably fill in that blank. I can certainly fill in that blank.
And then I stop myself, more often now than not.
This is the work.
This is the practice.
(This is part of the Womanly Arts.)
This is where feminism meets self-talk.
This is where the movement gets real —
starting right inside our heads.
This is when we are powerful.
I have the thought.
I have the feeling.
And I recognize it as not my own.
There is a 445 billion dollar industry in my head, and I’m not wrong for that. But I get to hand out the eviction notices and say, Nope.
I am lovable, beautiful, sexy, and desirable.
I get to decide.
We get to decide.
I love a high heel. And lip gloss. I love the rituals I create with my favorite bath salts and lotions. I don’t for one moment judge a woman who likes her Botox, her facelift, or gets her boobs done.
Because it’s what she wants.
What she desires.
(I don’t judge her even if she did it because she thought it would make her more lovable.)
Choosing to uplevel our beauty isn’t bad.
The beauty industry isn’t even bad.
But when the industry invests in the insecurities of women? When it tells us we have to earn our worth? When it tells us we’ll be acceptable if we would only change…?
That is not what we will participate in anymore.
That is over.
But what do we do now?
What if we still feel inadequate sometimes?
What do we do when we know we shouldn’t buy the lie anymore but, still, kinda, do?
Here’s what we do now. We think what we think, we feel what we feel, and then… we do something radical; we approve of ourselves. We practice self-acceptance. Disapproval is never, never, never the path to approval.
When you are feeling not-good-enough, broken, ugly, unsexy, too fat or too skinny, or too _________, I want you to flip the script. Grab a pen (or start a note on your phone) and write down every single thing that is right about you. YOU ARE SEXY RIGHT NOW. Do you have soft lips? Are you a good listener? Do you like the curves of your collarbone? Are your hands graceful? What part of you is strong? … Add to the list regularly.
And then? Approve of other women. Tell your mom she’s beautiful. Tell your sister her laugh makes everyone in a room happy. Tell the woman you’re sharing a ladies’ room mirror with that she looks amazing in that lipstick. Tell the cashier she has a stunning smile. Tell your doctor she has a special way of making you feel understood and cared for. Tell your kid’s teacher that you see how hard she works. The thing about noticing what’s right in others is that it makes it easier to notice what’s right in ourselves.
And then I remember what I know and what I teach.
Women’s self-approval subverts patriarchy.
And it’s not about going to the gym or not, buying things or not buying things.
It’s about not buying ideas that aren’t yours.
It’s about seeing the lie, and leaving it on the shelf.
It’s about being self-approved AF.
Regena Thomashauer, aka “Mama Gena”
The School of Womanly Arts
Regena is an academic of pleasure, a teacher, a speaker, a mother, a best-selling author, a feminist icon, and creatrix and CEO of The School of Womanly Arts.
p.s. I teach my Womanly Arts Mastery Program just once a year and the 2018 course starts next month. If you’re ready to register or have questions, do talk one-on-one with my staff — all course grads themselves — and they will be happy to help. (I recommend being quick — Mastery always fills.)
WOULD YOU LIKE TO STUDY WITH REGENA?
Mastery 2018 is open!
The School of Womanly Arts Mastery Program – Regena’s signature, internationally-renowned work – begins this March, and registration is open. Mastery was created over 20 years ago, to be a road map for women to get unstuck, turned on, and thriving inside a deeply supportive community. It is an immersive, experiential course unlike anything else in the world, with a combination of live intensives in New York City with Regena – Mama Gena herself – and ongoing support structures in-between. Women come from around the globe to join the movement and change their lives. Are you thinking of joining them?
If you’re inspired, or intrigued, or this awakens something inside you – you can book an exploratory call with our team (Stacy, Lilly, or Lauren are ready for you) to ask questions and see if 2018 feels like your year for Mastery.