Archive for the ‘self help’ Category

India Arie – Beautiful Flower

June 26, 2008

the amazing lyrics and beautiful melody of this song speak from my heart to every single beautiful girl out there :).

This is a song for every girl who’s
Ever been through something she thought she couldn’t make it through
I sing these words because
I was that girl too
Wanting something better than this
But who do I turn to
Now we’re moving from the darkness into the light
This is the defining moment of our lives
‘Cause you’re beautiful like a flower
More valuable than a diamond
You are powerful like a fire
You can heal the world with your mind
There is nothing in the world that you cannot do
When you believe in you, who are beautiful
Yeah, you, who are brilliant
Yeah, you, who are powerful
Yeah, you, who are resilientThis is a song for every girl who
Feels like she is not special
‘Cause she don’t look like a supermodel Coke bottle
The next time the radio tells you to shake your moneymaker

 

Shake your head and tell them, tell them you’re a leader                                                               Now we’re moving from the darkness into the light
This is the defining moment of our lives                                                                                           ‘Cause you’re beautiful like a flower
More valuable than a diamond
You are powerful like a fire
You can heal the world with your mind

 

There is nothing in the world that you cannot do
When you believe in you, who are beautiful
Yeah, you, who are brilliant
Yeah, you, who are powerful
Yeah, you, who are resilient

Yeah, you, who are beautiful
Yeah, you, who are brilliant
Yeah, you, who are powerful
Yeah, you, who are resilient

Yeah, you, this song is for you
Yeah, you, this song is for you
Yeah, you, this song is for you
Yeah, you, yeah, you
You are brilliant

 

 

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men are from mars, women are from venus :)

June 11, 2008

a dear friend, shu hua, shared the following with me. basically, it’s oprah winfrey’s two cents worth on relationships and men (for both the ladies and the men out there). i don’t agree with every single piece of advice but yes, i do agree with most of it.

hope the rest of my dear readers will also find it useful and enlightening. 🙂

If a man wants you, nothing can keep him away.
If he doesn’t want you, nothing can make him stay.

Stop making excuses for a man and his behaviour.
Allow your intuition (or spirit) to save you from heartache.
Stop trying to change yourself for a relationship that’s not meant to be.

Slower is better.

Never live your life for a man before you find what makes you truly happy.
If a relationship ends because the man was not treating you as you deserve then heck no, you can’t ‘be friends’. A friend wouldn’t mistreat a friend.
Don’t settle. If you feel like he is stringing you along, then he probably is Don’t stay because you think ‘it will get better’.
You’ll be mad at yourself a year later for staying when things are not.

The only person you can control in a relationship is you.
Avoid men who’ve got a bunch of children by a bunch of different women.
He didn’t marry them when he got them pregnant, why would he treat you
any differently?

Always have your own set of friends separate from his.
Maintain boundaries in how a guy treats you. If something bothers you, speak up.

Never let a man know everything.He will use it against you later.

You cannot change a man’s behaviour. Change comes from within.

Don’t EVER make him feel he is more important than you are…
Even if he has more education or in a better job.

Do not make him into a quasi-god.
He is a man, nothing more nothing less.
Never let a man define who you are.

 
Never borrow someone else’s man.
If he cheated with you, he’ll cheat on you.

 
A man will only treat you the way you ALLOW him to treat you.

All men are NOT dogs.

You should not be the one doing all the bending… Compromise is a two way street.

You need time to heal between relationships…
There is nothing cute about baggage…
Deal with your issues before pursuing a new relationship

You should never look for someone to COMPLETE you…
A relationship consists of two WHOLE individuals…
Look for someone complimentary…not supplementary.

Dating is fun…even if he doesn’t turn out to be Mr. Right.

Make him miss you sometimes…when a man always know where you are,
and you’re always readily available to him – he takes it for granted
Never move into his mother’s house.
Never co-sign for a man.

Don’t fully commit to a man who doesn’t give you everything that you need. Keep him in your radar but get to know others.

Dr Phil : Scared of being alone is what makes a lot of women stay in relationships that are abusive or hurtful.

You should know that:
You’re the best thing that could ever happen to anyone and if a man mistreats you, he’ll miss out on a good thing.
If he was attracted to you in the 1st place, just know that he’s not the only one.

They’re all watching you, so you have a lot of choices.
Make the right one.
 
Ladies take care of your own hearts….
 
Share this with other women and men (just so they know)…

You’ll make someone smile, another rethink her choices, and another
woman prepare.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to
appreciate them, a day to love them and an entire lifetime to forget them. 

Amazing Videos from the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

June 3, 2008

First up, a poignant short film on the daily struggles of many girls who are still coming to terms with themselves amidst peer pressure and teasing.

And, next up, a powerful video that goes behind the scenes to show us that the glamorous models gracing the glossy pages of magazines could simply not even be real but mere products of photoshop and makeup. So we’re torturing ourselves by striving to meet beauty standards that are not even achievable or real!

Another very sweet video that reminds us that we all have at least one person in our lives who loves us very very much. And, although we may be berating ourselves for many things, in someone’s eyes, we’re simply beautiful and special just the way we are. If only we could see ourselves through their eyes…

Last but not least, a wake-up call that the beauty industry thrives on making us feel bad about ourselves…

Amazing videos by Ogilvy with very powerful messages. Keep up the great work, Dove!!!!

Has Thin Always Been ‘In’?

May 29, 2008

I’m sure many of us already know the answer to the question (No, of course), but what’s interesting is HOW the perception of sexy has evolved over the years to what it is today!

To understand the evolution of beauty standards worldwide, how can we not start off with the West where the “thin” trend began in the first place!

“The arrival of cable television and Western fashions and films has given today’s teenagers the idea that thin is beautiful…” BBC

“But standards of beauty have changed dramatically… as South Korea’s government decontrolled TV and newspapers, allowing in a flood of foreign and foreign-influenced programming, information and advertising.” Dr. Sing Lee, psychiatrist, Chinese University of Hong Kong 

So, here goes:

 A poster pin up girl in the 1920s 

Hollywood celebrities in the 1930s and 1940s, the beau in the middle being the famous actress, Thelma Todd, who was at her peak in the 1930s and 1940s

How can we not mention Marilyn Monroe, the sex bomb of the 1950s and 1960s?

 And… Elizabeth Taylor, a famous Hollywood actress in the 1960s!

THIS is where it all began. Presenting… Twiggy Lawrence, the skinny androgenous model with a sweet angelic face who surprisingly took the world by a storm in the 1970s when curves were sexy!

Goldie Hawn, in the 1980s, when the ideal body weight was beginning to dip, thanks to Twiggy Lawson!

The figure you would have wanted to have in the 1990s!

Beauty standards today as depicted in the hit show, America’s Next Top Model!

Not surprisingly, beauty standards in Asia have undergone a similar evolution pattern, with the thin trend kicking off in the 1970s and 1980s when Western media became increasingly popular in Asia!

Evolution of Beauty in Japan:

 A Japanese pin up beauty in the 1930s! 

 Japanese beauty standards from the 1950s to 1970s

Momoe Yamaguchi, a Japanese hottie in the 1980s! Clearly beauty standards are shifting away from the curvier and fuller figures appreciated in the 1930s!

SPEED, the girl band that was overwhelmingly popular in Japan in the 1990s!

 

Last but not least, Ms Japan 2007!

Evolution of Beauty in Hong Kong:

 Lin Dai, a phenomenal actress in Hong Kong who was the epitome of beauty in the 1950s and 1960s!

 

Beauty in the 1970s which is clearly beginning to move towards the “thin”

Anita Mui (left) who enjoyed widespread popularity in the 1980s and represented beauty standards in the 1980s

 Thinner ideals in the 1990s

Beauty ideals today!

I don’t know about the rest of my dear readers, but for me at least, just looking at the evolution of beauty in both the West and in Asia over the years reminds me that at the end of the day, chasing beauty standards is not unlike chasing trends, meaningless after a while. And, perhaps, even if we’re not considered beautiful in this time, it does not reflect that we are any less valuable. It just means that we’re not conforming to the beauty standards of our culture in our time. If we do not follow the fashion trends of today, does it mean that we are any less forward-thinking? Trends will be trends – there will always be followers and rebels. Whichever we choose to be, it’s a choice, not a reflection of our worth and value. I sincerely hope that this post will be as comforting to my dear readers as it was to me.

Till the next time!

It’s All About the Shape Not the Size!

May 22, 2008

Ever had one of those days when you really wanted to buy something for yourself BUT after trying on rack after rack of clothes, nothing just seemed to fit right?  And the next thought that struck you was, “I really need to lose weight” 

Well, I have good news for you! Maybe you don’t have to lose any weight at all. Maybe it’s all about the shape and not the size! What exactly do I mean? That’s precisely why you have to read on – to find out! 🙂

In February of this year (2008), a Spanish research study was conducted on women’s body shapes and sizes! And, *drumrolls* the study revealed that the reason why so many women (40% of the women studied) are facing problems finding clothes that look good on them is that thus far, only the cylindrical body shape has been represented widely in the fashion industry. Doesn’t it make sense now that models, most of whom possess the cylindrical body shape, always look so good in almost everything?

So, what exactly is this cylindrical body shape that I’m talking about?  To get an idea about what exactly it is, all you have to do is to look at the image below! Presenting… Twiggy Lawson, the model who started the skinny trend in an era when curves were appreciated and celebrated! Her straight-down body shape is precisely what the study has referred to as the “cylindrical body shape”. And, no, don’t misunderstand – A cylindrical body shape does not have to be skinny. It’s a body shape not size across all sizes!

Unfortunately, the cylindrical body shape is only one of three body shapes that are prevalent among women, young and old. The two other body shapes identified by the study are the pear shape and the hour glass! Below is a pie chart on the proportion of women with each of the three main body shapes!

Next up are several charts on the proportion of women in each age group with each body shape!

12 – 18 years 

 

19 – 30 years

31 – 40 years

41 – 50 years

51 – 60 years

So, next time you start blaming your weight for not finding a blouse or skirt that fits, stop and think again. Because perhaps, “It’s all about the shape not the size”! And, that’s exactly what the fashion industry is gradually beginning to realize. It’s time – time they started accomodating other body shapes or face losing a sizeable market. What that means for us is that someday, hopefully, we’ll all have less problems finding something that fits nicely! 🙂

For more details about this study, you can access the full report here. But be forewarned that it’s all in Spanish! 🙂

 

Make Peace with Your Body Today!

May 18, 2008

If you were thinking that the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was the only corporation-initiated campaign promoting healthier notions of beauty and self esteem, think again! Because Seventeen, the world’s number one young women’s magazine has jumped on the bandwagon and joined in the cause!  

Not only has Seventeen developed a Body Peace Treaty which to date 32,042 young women worldwide have signed, it has also hired Jess Weiner, author and self esteem expert, to address the body image questions and concerns of young women from all over the globe! These questions and concerns are posted together with Jess Weiner’s replies on the Seventeen Body Peace blog and other young women worldwide can comment on these posts! What’s more, the Body Peace Treaty truly appeals to young women by allowing them to share the treaty on facebook, kaboodle and other “hip” websites and applications!

So, what exactly are the clauses of the Body Peace Treaty?

I vow to:

  1. Remember that the sun will still rise tomorrow even if I had one too many slices of pizza or an extra scoop of ice cream tonight.
  2. Never blame my body for the bad day I’m having.
  3. Stop joining in when my friends compare and trash their own bodies.
  4. Never allow a dirty look from someone else to influence how I feel about my appearance.
  5. Quit judging a person solely by how his or her body looks — even if it seems harmless — because I’d never want anyone to do that to me.
  6. Notice all the amazing things my body is doing for me every moment I walk, talk, think, breathe…
  7. Quiet that negative little voice in my head when it starts to say mean things about my body that I’d never tolerate anyone else saying about me.
  8. Remind myself that what you see isn’t always what you get on TV and in ads — it takes a lot of airbrushing, dieting, money, and work to look like that.
  9. Remember that even the girl who I’d swap bodies with in a minute has something about her looks that she hates.
  10. Respect my body by feeding it well, working up a sweat when it needs it, and knowing when to give it a break.
  11. Realize that the mirror can reflect only what’s on the surface of me, not who I am inside.
  12. Know that I’m already beautiful just the way I am.

Want to show support for this movement? Sign the Body Peace Treaty today!

Food for thought:

For so many years, as a leading fashion magazine for young women worldwide, Seventeen has played a quintessential role in shaping young women’s perceptions of beauty. And personally, I am very glad that Seventeen has joined in the cause because who better to change existing perceptions of beauty than the very people who had set them in the first place? The very fact that an “authority” for beauty issues is speaking out against existing notions of beauty is a powerful statement, indeed!

But, at the same time, in order to continue attracting advertisers, the magazine cannot afford to do away with the glamorous slim models they have always been using. Would this defeat the entire purpose of the campaign and in fact make young women skeptical about such campaigns in future?

Coming up next:

A ground-breaking Spanish study on female body shapes which may revolutionize the way clothes will be made and offered

and

A look into how perceptions of beauty have evolved over the years!

So, if you haven’t subscribed to my blog, subscribe today and stay tuned for the updates to come!

Miss Invisible

May 15, 2008

In 2004, a fresh face with a sweet but powerful voice and a story to tell the world won the Pantene Pro-Voice concert with this heartfelt song, “Miss Invisible”. As a plump child growing up of mixed heritage, Maria Digby struggled for acceptance almost all her life. This song was her plea for more acceptance and less judgment in the world today. It’s a song that is very dear to her, she says, because it’s not just a song; it’s her story about life in junior high school (secondary school) just trying so hard to accept herself and to be accepted. I sincerely hope this song will be a source of comfort for some of you the way it has been for me :). Because deep inside, at the end of a long and tiring day, perhaps, all we really need is to know that we’re not alone and that someone truly understands.

“Miss Invisible” lyrics:

Verse 1:

There’s a girl
Who sits under the bleachers
Just another day eating alone
And though she smiles
There is something she’s hiding
And she can’t find a way to relate
She just goes unnoticed
As the crowd passes by
And she’ll pretend to be busy
When inside she just wants to cry
She’ll say…

Chorus:

Take a little look at the life of Miss Always Invisible
Look a little closer, I really really want you to put yourself in her shoes
Take another look at the face of Miss Always Invisible
Look a little harder and maybe then you will see why she waits for the day
When you’ll ask her her name

Verse 2:

In the beginning, in the first weeks of class
She did everything to try and fit in
But the others they couldnt seem to get past all the things that mismatched on the surface
And she would close her eyes when they laughed and she fell down the stairs
And the more that they joked
And the more that they screamed
She retreated to where she is now
And she’ll sing…

And one day just the same as the last
Just the days spent in counting the time
Came a boy who sat under the bleachers just a little bit further behind…

The Real Truth About Beauty

May 13, 2008

In 2004, DOVE launched an exciting global study on what women around the world are saying about beauty ideals and self esteem. Because the report is wayy too lengthy for many of us to plough through, I’d like to share some key insights from this enlightening study with my dear readers and friends!

  1.  Modern definitions of beauty are too narrow, many women worldwide are protesting. Not only do many women feel that beauty ideals are too myopically focussed on physical attributes instead of encompassing so much more of who they are as women such as their happiness, kindness, confidence and dignity, many expressed their strong desire for the media to better represent women of diverse physical types, body shapes and ethnic backgrounds. (And Mariko says amen to that! 🙂 )
  2. Beauty beliefs learnt early in life between the ages of six and seventeen have a huge impact on how women feel about themselves and their lives.
  3. Nine in ten women want to change some aspect of their appearance – with the greatest dissatisfaction being expressed over body weight and shape. (And Mariko says, “Well, looking at the fashion industry today, that doesn’t come as a surprise, does it?”)
  4. A woman’s sense of self worth varies with her appearance satisfaction. (And Mariko is thinking that it’s so sad that a woman should peg her self worth to her appearance. Yet, it’s a painful truth, isn’t it? That a large part of a woman’s identity, especially a young woman, is her sexuality and attractiveness. Can the hypersexuality of women in the media be blamed for this? Or is it an inevitable manifestation of traditional gender roles? )
  5. When women feel good about themselves, they are more active as a result of feeling more confident and loved. On the other hand, when women feel bad about themselves, they express feelings of insecurity and tiredness and seven out of ten women actually withdraw from normal activities because they feel badly about their appearances! The activities they avoid when feeling bad about themselves include giving their opinions, going on dates, physical activity, going to school or work and going on job interviews! Instead, they turn to extreme self modification (such as disordered eating), watching TV, sleeping or napping and staying home. (Mariko can’t agree more with this finding because she remembers withdrawing for a period of time immediately after her break up when she was feeling bad about herself. 😛 )
  6. Family and friends are extremely important for a woman struggling with a low self esteem. That’s right, women worldwide have confessed that when feeling bad about themselves and their looks, their first step is to reach out to family and friends for support, understanding and encouragement. Mothers and girl friends, they say, are the most powerful shapers of a girl’s feelings about beauty and body image. (And Mariko says, “Amen to that because family and friends so so rock! They really do. I don’t know where the hell I’d be if not for their love and support!”)
  7. Last but not least, what exactly do the women of the world wish to say to their fellow women??? Yes, it is their wish that parents and schools will talk to young girls early on in their lives about what real beauty is. Not only do they hope that young girls will eventually adopt a more realistic and healthy body image, it is also their vision that women of the future will learn to eat heathily rather than dieting and embrace the idea that beautiful women come in different shapes, sizes and colors! (Mariko says amen to that!! But she’s also wondering how long it would all take for that vision to come true…)

For more on the Campaign for Real Beauty by Dove, do visit: www.campaignforrealbeauty.com

 

 “What really stands between you and your beauty? Actually, nothing more than the courage to believe you possess it.”

This is My Story; What’s YOURS?

May 10, 2008

Childhood – The Earliest Seeds

As an overweight kid, I could never escape the clutches of the Trim and Fit Club! Everyday, I had to report to a designated area in the canteen (in full view of other kids) where I spent recess with other overweight children like myself and the teachers would monitor whatever we ate. 

I was miserable because it was bad enough that I could never spend recess with my friends but on top of that, I had to spend recess with other overweight children in full view of the entire school!!! Even now, I remember crawling towards the Trim and Fit area ashamed, embarassed and feeling extremely small. After reporting to the teacher, I slunked in a corner hoping against hope to escape from notice.

Did this experience leave an indelible mark on my self esteem? Maybe; maybe not. But what I do know is that from a young age, I was different – because of my weight.

This went on for many years but the year I hit twelve years of age, enough was enough. The crash dieting began. Only one meal a day and I started running at a feverish intensity – once in the morning and once at night. Within months, I lost 11kg. Teachers began to worry and my parents were called in. But nothing could stop me. I was determined to do anything to be normal.

Over time, I eventually fell out of the Trim and Fit Club because I was not only no longer overweight but I was UNDERweight. And yes, I got my wish of finally being able to spend recess as a normal kid but it was never the same again. In my heart, I was an ugly duckling who had clamoured its way into the world of the normal. Although many boys started showering me with attention and I was nicknamed the belle of the school, deep inside, I would always be nothing more than an ugly duckling playing swan.

Rejection (s)

Of course other events continued to punctuate my growing up years but if I were to expound on all, it’d be a thesis!!! 🙂 Through it all, though, my self esteem remained extremely low. In secondary school (junior high school), I was actually a candidate for prom queen (surprise!!!) and I was doing well both academically and socially. But sadly, my self esteem never improved.

The huge blow came when I moved into junior college (senior high school) and started falling for this guy we shall name J. He was a very good friend and the feelings grew as we became closer friends over time. By this time, I had gained some of my original weight and was no longer the slim and beautiful prom queen candidate in secondary school. Instead, I was hoping to be loved and accepted for who I was. Fully aware that I was the girl-next-door kind of girl guys enjoyed having as a friend but rarely fell for, I knew better than to betray my feelings for J. Nonetheless, as a streetwise young man, he knew.

One day, I was returning to the classroom after visiting the restroom and only J and his friends were in the classroom at that time. None of them had any idea that I was there and as many normal growing up guys enjoyed doing, they were discussing girls. 

“J, I see you’re quite close to Mariko huh?? Any chance or not?? That you both will be together?”, J’s friend teased. 

Mariko? Oh please. I would never fall for her. She’s not even pretty and what’s more, she doesn’t play sports – So boring. She’s too fat for me too. I like slim girls with big eyes and long hair.” 

Thereafter, I stopped hanging out with J and his friends and I never spoke to any of them ever again. Did they ever find out that I had overheard their conversation? I will never know. But from that day onwards, the crash dieting and self mutilation began again. And till today, J’s words remain deeply ingrained in my heart.

Craving for love and acceptance, when I was slim again after several months of crash dieting, I started dating around and eventually landed myself in my first relationship. It was self affirming at first but the relationship winded to an end amidst violence and cheating after 4.5 years.

Today, I stand alone struggling with a staggering self esteem and a deeply wounded heart that has probably never healed completely ever since that day when I had overheard J’s comments to his friends.

The one important lesson I’ve learnt is : That we should never pin our self esteem and self worth on anybody other than ourselves. Because one day, that very person will disappoint us and we’ll only end up with more pain and an even more damaged self esteem.

Yes, this is my story – unabridged and painfully honest. What’s yours?

Not Here by Coincidence

May 8, 2008

Hey dear readers and friends! 

Firstly, a big warm welcome and it’s so nice having you over!

No, I don’t think any one of us is here by coincidence – perhaps we’ve been lamenting at society’s preoccupation with appearances for some time; perhaps we’re just so tired of the whole “survival of the most beautiful” game; perhaps we have our own self esteem struggles and stories to share; perhaps we’re just curious about the different perceptions of beauty across cultures; perhaps a loved one so dear to us is battling with self image and self worth issues; or perhaps we’re simply looking for people with similar struggles so we know that we’re never alone. Whatever our reasons may be – no, we’re not here by coincidence.

Neither have I started this blog by chance. Growing up, self esteem was something I constantly struggled with. Not only was I of mixed heritage and therefore “strange looking” compared to my peers, having lived in various parts of the world, the conflicting expectations and perceptions of beauty in different cultures confused and plagued me. I soon realized though that I was not alone in these struggles. That we all face them at one point of time or another. It’s the kind of experience that we know everybody has faced but not many are willing to talk about.

This blog is not just part of a healing process for me, but it’s also my attempt to use my experiences to make a difference in a small but meaningful way. It is my hope that this site will be a voice for many and at the end of the day, we will not only support and encourage each other, but we will also learn and grow together through the sharing of experiences and stories.

I will be updating this blog regularly with interesting articles on the different perceptions of beauty across cultures, my own personal anecdotes and stories, tips from self help books and authors on how to love ourselves more, and more stories on campaigns and initiatives around the world to spread healthier notions of beauty and sexuality!

So, what’re you waiting for? Subscribe today! And you’ll never be left out! Any new stories or words of encouragement and you’ll be the first to know! Comment away on any of the posts, join the conversation and be part of this community today! May we all grow, learn and inspire together! 🙂