What makes you feel most beautiful? I have a hunch it has nothing to do with what we’re constantly being advertised. Never in my thirty-two years have I, or any of my female friends, said “You know, mascara makes me feel the most beautiful ever,” or “This smooth glide tampon makes me feel so freaking beautiful I can’t handle myself!” Damn, I wish I heard that sentence more often. Most of the time, we’re taught periods are a pain (and they definitely can be), but we’re not taught they make us beautiful.
I’m not knocking makeup or modern conveniences. I enjoy both of them too. There’s a place for them, sure. But what really makes you feel the most beautiful? When I think about that question, the answer has little to do with my body.
Author, blogger, and podcaster, August McLaughlin, is hosting her annual Beauty of a Woman Blogfest. She’s asking women all over the world to talk about what beauty means to them. And since she’s also the fab creator of GirlBoner, (“Where Good Girls Go For Sexual Empowerment”), some bloggers are writing about sexuality too.
I’ve been a participant in both categories over the years. If you want to check out one of my past posts, I recommend Heavy Petting is a No No: Sex Education for the Saint of Heart. 😉
This year, I wanted to talk about beauty as a woman in her thirties. At a time when your body starts changing (like, not bouncing back in ways it once did), it can be a mind shift to still feel beautiful in a world that emphasizes outer beauty and youthfulness so highly. My body changed, and so did my style.
There are some things that remain constant, though. That will always make me feel truly beautiful and empowered in my own skin.
10 (Unusual) Things That Make Me Feel Beautiful
1. Learning something new.
Is there anything quite like the joy of learning something new? There’s that moment when you’ve really put time and energy and sometimes expense into understanding something that didn’t come naturally, and then…it finally clicks!
Damn, that’s a gorgeous moment.
2. Reading books out loud.
What can I say? Words are my love language.
3. Making art for the fun of it.
I believe adults don’t PLAY enough. When’s the last time you picked up your ol’ Crayola 64 pack (dating myself there) and just colored? Or used a paintbrush? Or even doodled? I’m not “an artiste,” but playing around is therapeutic and relaxing for me when I remember to leave judgment at the door.
4. A damn fine blazer.
I’m a sucker for a power suit. Alas, I rarely get to wear them anymore. But why not give yourself a Try Day Challenge and write about it? I did.
A friend of mine coined the term “wonderfully uncomfortable” and it has forever stuck with me. Traveling somewhere outside your comfort zone is a great opportunity to meet new people, hear new stories, and gain a bigger picture of the world. I always leave feeling grateful and humble afterwards. Aren’t those beautiful, genuine emotions?
6. Going for a walk.
Cool breezes on your skin, your feet pounding the pavement or hiking the trail. I never get clarity like I do when I’m on a solo hike.
7. Genuine, consensual touch.
You know people who are huggers? Like good huggers, not creepy uncle huggers? There’s something beautiful and comforting about being with someone who just knows when to give you a hug or reach for your hand. Science even supports that hugging longer has positive effects on the endorphins in the brain! I value a good hug from a friend or loved one.
Who doesn’t appreciate when someone finally notices how damn hard you work?! You go, grrrl! I see you!
9. Eating dessert for breakfast.
Because I’m an adult. Because I can. Because I’m worth it.
10. Not buying into all the ageist, objectified patriarchal bullshit.
Cause ain’t no one got time for that!
What makes YOU feel truly beautiful?
*This post is part of The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VII! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 9th.
March is Women’s History Month so it’s the perfect time to celebrate the women in your life, and the ones who’ve come before you. We’ve all learned about our fearless, feminist ancestors like Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, and Julia Child. Yes, Julia Child! Before she was known for her cooking, she worked as an intelligence officer in the OSS, and she spoke four languages! She was a total badass.
Still there are many whose names we don’t know by heart, yet reap the benefits of their hard work and determination every day. So prepare for some speed dating y’all, cause it’s time to meet 9 women who made history you probably didn’t know about.
9 Women Who Made History You Probably Didn’t Know About
1. Victoria Woodhull
It amazes me we still ask the question “Is America ready for a woman president?” Um, yes. And we’ve been trying to elect one since 1870. Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for president, and she did so before having the right to vote herself. In fact she spent election day in jail. Campaigning under the Equal Rights Party, her running mate was none other than abolitionist Frederick Douglass. She was also very outspoken on the issue of “free love,” which back then referred to a woman’s right to divorce her husband. No one knows how many votes Victoria received because the bastards running the patriarchy refused to count them.
2. Henrietta Lacks
Gaining popularity and recognition thanks to a book by Rebecca Skloot, Henrietta Lacks is the reason we have most vaccines and medical advancements today. At the time of her death in 1951, medical consent forms didn’t exist, so without her permission or that of her family, doctors took samples of Henrietta’s cells. The healthcare industry was desperately trying to find cures for diseases but keeping test cells alive was impossible. Until Henrietta. The cells from Henrietta’s body, known as HeLa cells, were the first ever to be kept alive and grown, resulting in great medical advancements including the polio vaccine.
3. Elizabeth Smith Miller
Did you put pants on today? Yoga pants and jeggings count! Well you have Elizabeth Smith Miller to thank for that. She was the first woman to wear pants in 1851. Finding the long skirts and dresses of the 1800’s too confining for her hobbies, she created an early version of the skort. At least that’s what I’m calling it. Technically she wore pantaloons with a wrap skirt over them, but we all know it was a skort, or at the very least a skant.
4. Sarah Josepha Buell Hale
Think you know the story of the first Thanksgiving? Think again. Thanksgiving, as a national holiday, wasn’t celebrated until 1863, over 240 years after the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians held what we consider the first Thanksgiving. Wanting to unite our war torn country, Sarah wrote to the president and members of congress every year for 17 years asking for a national day of gratitude. In November of 1863, President Lincoln announced the first national day of giving thanks, done so at Sarah’s subtle nudging.
5. Pauli Murray
Pursuing higher education in the 1930’s and 40’s when women were often barred from many colleges because of their gender, Pauli Murray became the first African-American woman to earn a graduate degree from Yale University and went on to become a civil rights lawyer and feminist. She is the co-founder of NOW (National Organization of Women) which still seeks to address issues of gender equality and women’s rights. In 1977, she also became the first black woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest.
6. Patsy Takemoto Mink
Patsy grew up watching and experiencing racism against Japanese Americans following WWII. She was determined to better the lives of all people regardless of their race or gender or education level. She studied medicine and law and was an active political figure in Hawaii before it was an official U.S. state. In 1964, she became the first Asian American woman elected to the House of Representatives. Patsy is most widely known for the passing of Title IX, or the Equal Opportunity in Education Act, which she helped author. The act prohibits gender discrimination in any federally funded schools and largely opened up opportunities for women in athletics.
7. Dorothea Dix
Dorothea was born in 1802, and at the age of 14 she started teaching. A job in a women’s prison led Dorothea to start researching the care of the mentally ill in hospitals and penitentiaries. The documentation she presented to legislative figures allowed for larger budget allocations that improved conditions in the institutions as well as built new ones. Her diligent work improved or founded over 30 hospitals for the mentally ill. She was appointed Superintendent of U.S. Army Nurses in 1861.
8. Ada and Minna Everleigh
The Everleigh sisters, Ada and Minna, are some of Chicago’s most notorious historical figures. During the late 1800’s, they opened up one of the finest brothels in the country, featuring a gold piano, right on Dearborn St. Before you sneer at their historical achievement, you should know how they changed the game. At a time when women’s only opportunities outside the home were teaching or prostitution, if you had to get a job, your choices were limited. And many women were actually getting drugged and kidnapped, forced into the sex industry with violence. Ada and Minna’s “butterflies” were kept in the lap of luxury with fancy clothes, education, and 3 square meals a day. As for their patrons, the Everleigh sisters were also great businesswomen who actually demanded proof of their client’s bank accounts before entrance and tolerated zero violence in their establishment.
9. Lillian Gilbreth
Lillian is the queen of professional women. Not only did she raise 12 children, she became the first female inducted into the Society of Industrial Engineers. She earned a degree in psychology and spent years working as a business consultant for top clients like Macy’s, General Electric, and even the President of the United States. You’re probably familiar with some of her inventions such as the shelves on refrigerator doors and the foot pedal on garbage cans.
So there you have it. Nine talented women who made history, and often aren’t recognized. Happy Women’s History Month!
Ever wondered where the new wave of feminists are? You’re in luck, cuz they’re out there!
AND because I’m blogging about it at one of the coolest new e-zines for badasses out there, The Indie Chicks.
Today I’m guest posting on the conundrum: I’m a Feminist. Now What?
Learn what it really means to be a feminist – Guys, that includes you too – and find out five ways you can make a difference starting now.
Every view, comment, like, and share helps me out because The Indie Chicks are currently looking for contributing writers. And I’ll tell you a secret, so scooch in…
I WOULD REALLY REALLY, LIKE OHMYGOD FANGIRL, LOOOOOOOVE TO WRITE FOR THE INDIE CHICKS REGULARLY!!!
So please tell me I’ll see you there!
I’m making a confession today. I have a muffin top.
*phew* There, I said it.
I feel better now.
It started about a year ago when I quit my job. Don’t get me wrong, that is STILL the best decision I ever made. But I didn’t account for what would happen while transitioning from a 50-60 hour job where I was on my feet doing laps inside a mall…to sitting at a computer working, then coming home to…sit at a computer writing.
My diet habits changed drastically. While in retail, I worked so many hours and had interrupted breaks that I didn’t eat much at all for the 9-10 hour days I was there. But sitting at either my work desk or home desk, both conveniently right next to the kitchen…it’s a lot easier to snack throughout the day.
Without working out to balance my new lifestyle, my weight has fluctuated between 4-12 pounds in the past year. Now, I’m a rational person, and on a scale, that still has me at a perfectly normal and healthy weight for someone my size.
The problem is that it all sits on my middle.
I’m only 5’2″. I need all the length I can get, so adding width to my torso, not only isn’t working with my current wardrobe, but it’s affecting my self esteem.
I might have been able to nip the weight gain in the
butt tummy, if all I had to do this summer was lose a couple pounds. But I’m planning a wedding! And I’m on deadline to submit my book to potential agents.
My downfall has been that I want to go work out, but then I feel guilty that I’m not writing or working on wedding stuff, so I go home, but then I’m so stressed out I don’t know where to start and I end up moping around and wallowing the night away, making poor food choices on top it.
It’s tough to admit I’m still in transition. A whole year later and I haven’t magically “figured it all out.” As women, we grow up believing that on our wedding day we’re going to be the most beautiful woman in the room.
But I don’t feel beautiful.
All I see right now are my flaws. When I look in the mirror, I see my gut protruding over my pants and I see blemishes on my face.
And it makes me so sad and angry.
Sad, because I know deep down I’m pretty. And I hear my fiance tell me so. But I don’t listen, and worse, I’ve started countering him by pointing out my flaws.
Angry, because I have a degree in women’s gender and sexuality studies, so I know I’m suffering from body dysmorphia and yet, I don’t know how to turn that off.
But requiring two people to zip you into your wedding dress is a sure-fire way to put that doubt into hyperdrive.
I am a perfectly healthy and talented woman. But I’m struggling with doubt.
I am really struggling with doubt right now.
Is it just me? Is it the wedding? Is it the looming date of my 30th birthday and saying goodbye to the resilient body I had when things were good and I was still 25?
Is it potato chips? I have a hard time saying no to potato chips.
And what about society’s role in all this? My low body image issues have made me angry at society. Why have we invested so much energy into praising women for their looks rather than their brains? Why are more pages in women’s magazines filled with products for me to buy that will change my appearance “for the better” than there are articles about women making real strides for gender equality?
Aren’t we doing ourselves a disservice? Why does something as small as 4 pounds make a woman question her worth? Imagine if we spent half as much time renovating our education or health systems as we did staring in mirrors, avoiding mirrors, picking at our faces, being insulted by cat-calls, being insulted at our lack of cat calls, and only wearing open-toed shoes when our toenails are properly painted?!
We’d have solved the fucking issues by now! But instead, if you’re like me, or if you’ve been there before, we are too busy concealing that extra bit of weight we’ve gained.
~Sincerely, Miffed and Muffin-topped,
Happy Beauty of a Woman Blogfest Day!
Today, women and men of all ages are posting around the country on the topics of women’s beauty and sexuality. It’s a celebration of what each individual connects with, be it their favorite body part, a life changing epiphany, a female mentor they have, their desires for the future, and more!
The blogfest’s creator is August McLaughlin, a writer, dear friend, and founder of the #GirlBoner movement – in which she blogs and hosts a radio show surrounding women’s sexuality.
She’s amazing. You can follow her on Twitter @AugstMcLaughlin or check out the conversations around Girl Boner or Beauty of a Woman at the following hashtags: #GirlBoner & #BOAW3.
You can read all of the posts in the Beauty of a Woman blogfest by clicking here and seeing the full list of participants on August’s blog! Guest bloggers and readers are eligible to win gift card prizes between $5 and $50!
For my part in the blogfest, I wanted to share with you a movement called 1 Billion Rising that I’ve been involved with. It stands for 1 Billion Rising for Justice, and it’s partnered with the V-Day organization. The V-Day organization was started by author and playwright, Eve Ensler, who wrote The Vagina Monologues. As a women’s studies minor in college, I took part in the annual Monolgues show to raise money for our local women’s shelter every Valentine’s weekend.
The goals of both V-Day and 1 Billion Rising are to end violence against women. Now, every February 14th, these organizations host events for victims of violence and those who support them to gather in public spaces and seek justice. The events include everything from meeting with city officials to the more emotional release of artwork and dance.
This year 1 Billion Rising is also hosting a challenge on Instagram. Using the hashtag #instaRISE, they’re calling for photos that demonstrate your inner activist – showing off the quotes, body parts, artwork, dance moves, friendships, and more so the movement keeps on rising!
It’s not to late to get involved!
Here is the #instaRISE photo challenge:
For this year’s Beauty of a Woman blogfest, I thought I’d share my #instaRISE photos because being a part of a national movement that celebrates women and stands up against violence is important – and beautiful – to me!
Day 1: Justice – Show off your inner activist! – We sold these t-shirts when I president of the Women’s Studies Student Association in college.
Day 2: JustSPEAK – Share a phrase that inspires you. – Adrienne Rich’s collection of poems, The Fact of a Doorframe, was my Bible for years.
Day 4: V-Day – Show off your Rebel Red
Day 5: V-Girls – Power Pink – A shade for every mood you’re in: sophisticated, flirty, sporty, confident, girlie?
Day 6: JustUs – Friends – Me with the cast of The Vagina Monologues, 2006 – I performed ‘The Vagina Workshop’ which is one of my favorite stories.
Day 7: JustMe – Selfie
And don’t forget to check out the other Beauty of a Woman blog posts!
What makes you feel beautiful?