“We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves.” François de la Rochefoucauld

Think about this quote as it relates to you. As it relates to your children, your spouse, your nieces or nephews, to your students, your neighbors, your friends. Really think about it. Then consider how many are wearing masks of “enough” out there in the world and how hard they are trying to be seen as what they think “we” want them to be. So much so that they may be losing sight of what they already are, deep inside.

I’ve been caught in the mask trap over the years, no doubt, and have watched people I love get caught in it too:“How do I need to look today to be enough to you?” “Should I curl or straighten my hair?” “What do I have to wear to be accepted?” “How much cleavage has to be out to be sexy?” “Do I look okay?” “I can’t go out of the house because I have a zit!” “I don’t look fat do I?” “Are you sure I don’t look FAT?” This last often comes from two of my nieces who happen to be gorgeous and the fact that they are size 0-2 has nothing to do with what makes them gorgeous!

I just don’t “get” how things have gotten so twisted, how plastic surgery became the norm instead of the exception and when the pressure to conform became this great. I wonder sometimes if I’m the only one who thinks so. If not, I really think it’s time to start screaming louder than the media ladies! Sometimes I feel like everyone is screaming already emotionally, but no one is listening.

Is anyone else worried about how much emphasis there is to be perfect today on our teenagers? Actually not just on our teenagers but on all of us? Aren’t you afraid of the desperate need for everyone to cover up any potential “flaw” and disguise uncertainty about looks by tweaking towards what society tells them is enough, is pretty?

I was hit between the eyes with these thoughts last night while watching the news and saw one story on the Miss USA pageant that discussed how this pageant had caused a stir for two reasons.

1. A beautiful entrant is now being touted a heroine for being “brave enough” to be seen in a bikini as a size four (4). No joke. The news reporters congratulated her for being courageous enough to be “au natural” and represent an “average” American woman. As I watched the segment I wanted to cry at the absurdity of what we are as a society. Is this what we have come to? Are we really making a young American woman out to be heroic because she is stepping out onto the stage as “Oh My God,” a size 4? Folks, if this is the case, we’re screwed!

The media creating a story around this contestant feels scary. Is this really helping the average girl out there feel better? What is the message if size 4 is called taking a risk? In the segment clips one after the other long legged, long haired full breasted contestant, without an ounce of body fat among them, appeared on the screen. This thumbnail representation may look like a few young American women I know, but is not the norm or the end all be all for beauty.

In actuality the average American woman today is 5’4” with a waistline of well over 30.” Her dress size is between a 12 and a 14, give or take a little as I averaged these numbers from the web, but hopefully you get my drift.

So, to take a size 4 pageant entrant and focus on her bravery for daring to step out on stage is, in my opinion, total insanity. I ask the media: “Just who was that piece for?” Was it for the REAL average American that would kill to look like that size 4? Was it for your ratings? Who is it supposed to reach or to help? Who are we doing these shows for folks? Seriously. We watch them. Our sisters watch them. Our young daughters and step daughters, granddaughters, nieces and cousins watch them and they all dream of looking like “that” girl.

They wonder what they can do to wake up one day that comfortable in their skin or with a body like that. They wonder how come they can’t get there even though they try. They dislike their large bones or small breasts, thick thighs or thin lips and they don’t stop criticizing themselves long enough to realize that they already are beautiful. They already are perfect and special and unique and unlike any other person in the world because of their exact face or shape or body and their exact special gifts.

If only we could start (even just with little baby steps) to get back to center ladies. The center that knows that we are all lovely in our own way. The center that invites us to embrace that unique beauty and stop wearing the cookie cutter disguises that make us all mirror images of what society has told us is beautiful. If only women would stop buying into the bullshit out there that it seems everyone is buying into, we might actually stand still long enough to see our own and then others’ beauty. If not, we are all set up to fail.

Because, what happens is that older women who are buying in today have daughters who are paying close attention. And these daughters become moms down the road to daughters who will also pay attention. All of these daughters and mothers who are looking for validation around their beauty, their uniqueness, their originality will be screaming, but so loud that nobody can hear them. They are begging to find a way to stand still and graceful and feel enough in the midst of what society tells them is their “not enough-ness,” but don’t even know it because there doesn’t seem to be anyone to guide them.

And it is not just about the ladies although that is my focus with this blog. There are also fathers and sons and brothers affected, either with their own struggles or the struggles around watching their sisters or girlfriends, mothers or wives not believe in their beauty.

How about if we start now? Right here, right now? By not buying in anymore. By standing up and using our voice. By saying that we already are beautiful. We are graceful. We are enough. We are special and unique. Just the way we are! I am and so are you.

If not, as I said, we are screwed. No question. When will there be a pageant with truly “real” and “average” women? Or better yet, when will there be no pageant? When will we say “Hell, no, we don’t need one! We don’t need a crown to tell us we are winners?”

Which brings me to the Second reason for the stir created by the Miss USA pageant:

2. The winner of this years Miss USA pageant is a beautiful woman named Miss Nevada. At least that was where she entered from. As it turns out she had entered the Miss California pageant three times but lost every time. Now I am not really interested in where she is “really” from. What I am interested in is, why it is so important for someone to be labeled “Miss Somebody” that she has to try four times from two different states?

How about being “Miss Yourself?” “Miss Ourselves?” Our very lovely, very original, totally unique selves? When will there be a prize for holding on to that? When will our society figure out that we are all so busy re-creating ourselves to be what will be noticed as beautiful that we lose sight of what beautiful actually is?

The crown of love and talent and self acceptance is already ours for the taking. The gift that lives deep within us and allows us to be free to stand without disguises is real beauty. The sacred loveliness that is each one of us that needs no nipping, no tucking, no starving ourselves to fit into Barbie sized clothes, no brightening or whitening or tanning salons, no colored contact lenses or hair straightening, no acrylic nails with little butterflies on them, no killer heels that hurt like hell when we walk in them.

Are you getting the message yet? Why did Miss Nevada, now Miss USA, formerly vying to be Miss California feel the need to enter a contest under different states four different times? Because she lost 3 times does that take away from her win? Will her crown really make a difference? Interestingly, when asked what the capitol of Nevada is during an interview the other day she had no idea and she is the states pageant representative! So what does it all mean?

When will we stop believing the lies society is telling us? When will we actually begin to stand still in our God given bodies without augmentation or reduction of any kind? At what point can Miss USA be considered beautiful just by being herself and without changing homes in order to lessen the competition. When is our society going to get their heads out of their asses (their non perfect, slightly cellulited asses) and wake up?

When will we be able to accept and embrace what God has given us? When? I hope and pray that each and every one of you begin right now to believe what I believe. That you are now and always will be enough, actually more than enough, no matter what size you wear, the color of your eyes, your height or how much you weigh. I hope you believe that there is a place for every one of you on the stage of loveliness. The stage that is your life and that sadly doesn’t have a dress rehearsal.

Believe in your place and go out and get it. Be it. Own it. Own who you are and how gorgeous you are right there exactly as you are! Absafrigginlutely GORGEOUS! Go be yourself and honor the woman of Grace, dignity and honor that you already are. While you are at it, teach other people how to honor that in you too and tell them to keep their crown because as James Baldwin wrote, “ours has already been bought and paid for, all we have to do is wear it.”

With love xoxoxo