The Paradox and Beauty of a Woman

Hi Lovelies!

boaw-2013Today’s post is a first around here… We’re entering the turgid waters known as a blogfest. Yep, we’re virgins!

I hadn’t ever felt compelled to join one of these online orgies until I heard about writer/journalist August McLaughlin’s Beauty of a Woman event.

WTF are you talking about, Dietz?

It’s pretty basic actually. Ms. McLaughlin will list all the participating bloggers on her website. Feel free to tour as many sites as you want to have fun, be inspired and entertained, and to potentially win a Kindle Fire or equivalent Amazon gift card. (All commenters will be entered in the prize drawing. The more blogs you visit, the greater your chance to win.)

So what compelled me to join this event?

The opportunity to validate women. Because women need it. We spend so much of our lives building others up, but have such a hard time accepting it when the love, compliments, and appreciation come our direction. Why is that?

How often do you deflect praise or admiration? Do you even believe it when they tell you? My husband has been telling me since we started dating 14+ years ago that he thinks my thighs are the sexiest part of my body. He spends copious amounts of time lovin’ on them to this day.

And guess what part of my body I’ve always hated the most? Of course, my damn thighs that touch in the middle.

Why, why, why can’t I believe him?

Stupid. I am so done with that. I’m on a campaign to not only accept, but to appreciate my legs.

What should your campaign be?

The older I get the more I find myself turning to the wisdom and the company of other women. Not that I haven’t always enjoyed my girlfriends. It’s just now somehow more necessary – and fun. Maybe it’s because I’ve matured enough that I’m not worried that other people see my imperfections (gasp!) and might think less of me because of them.

What other people think of me is not my business. – Michael J. Fox

I could go on for days about the beauty of a woman, but here are a few of the most poignant for me:

  • heart-smileHer capacity for compassion and empathy. Whether it’s for the elderly neighbor, the neglected child in her son’s class, or a bird with a broken wing her daughter brings home from the playground, she opens her heart and gives generously of her time and resources because she always thinks: what if that was my parent, my child, my pet? And by this compassion, she leaves the world a better place.
  • Her drive for consensus. Whether she’s socially gregarious or of a more quiet persuasion, she seeks to bring together. To knit. To gather. To heal divisions. Peace is her ultimate goal.
  • Her fierce loyalty to her family, those by blood or by choice. She will rush into a burning building or face censure and scorn to defend those she loves – and never count the cost.
  • Her willingness to listen – and act – with heart and mind, knowing that oftentimes, better choices come from a blend of both.
  • Her ability to multitask. Bounce a baby on her hip while making supper, checking the weather report, putting the next load of laundry in, and talking on the phone? Oh, hell yeah, bitch. What else you got for her?
  • Her ability to drop everything when someone needs her. She can morph from a multitasking phenomenon to a single-minded wonder with the focus of a bomb tech when the situation arises.
  • Her apparent contradictions that somehow aren’t. The strength of her softness that comforts both young and old. Or crying when she’s happy…or when she watches commercials (those Humane Society spots get me every damn time).
  • Her ability to be silly and childlike and full of wonder. How with a giggle a grandmother reveals the girl she was in pigtails. If you look closely, you’ll see she’s still there. Hoping someone remembers she, too, once had smooth skin and shining hair. She’s that same girl, only more. More stories, more lessons, more scars, more love. More intriguing mystery to unlock – to explore and mine like precious stones hidden in dark, echoing caves.

lady-with-hatThe thing is, a woman doesn’t horde her treasures if you but seek them out. She will gladly pour them into your hands if you come with a pure affection. Her heart can be broken, but she ultimately believes in love, and with the right coaxing will open herself again. And again.

And again.

That makes her powerful. A paradox, yes, but also a life-affirming reality.

Women are beautiful and wonderful and complex in their diversity – and in their sameness. Because really, we’re more the same than different.

Take the time to acknowledge the beauty of a woman you know and love today.

And please join the conversation by sharing your perspective on any of the following:

Who is the most beautiful woman in your life, and why?
When have you felt most beautiful?
What are you willing to do to better embrace and recognize your own beauty? In other words, what’s your campaign?
If you could write to your younger self, or anyone, to instill a stronger sense of self acceptance, what would you say?

(All commenters will be entered in the Beauty of a Woman prize drawing on Ms. McLaughlin’s blog. And if you have time, hop around to some of the other BOAW stops to be entertained and inspired!)

Comments

  1. Does any woman really like her thighs? Great post. I’m participating as well. It just seemed a lot of fun and a worthy thing to do. Especially with a tween at home and I’m starting to see the body image, beauty issues starting to rear their ugly head. See running around the blogfest.

    • Thanks for stopping, Sabrina! I have a tween girl too, though I haven’t seen any body bashing yet thank goodness. We’ve been having body power talks (positive views on the many different types of bodies in the world) since she’s been little so hopefully she’s a little extra prepared for the media assault young women face all too early. I’m definitely going to come say hey at your blog – noticed it in my inbox earlier. TTYL! xoxo

      • Its always those thighs. For my daughter, she is lean but curvy with very female shaped legs, which are bigger than her friends who are smaller, thinner. And unfortunately what happens in body image is that bigger translates simply into big–and then the angst comes because body image is comparative not factual to a certain extent.

        • “bigger translates simply into big” — so true, unfortunately!

          She’ll ultimately be okay, though, because she’s got you. You’ve been there, done that, and are a sensitive and communicative mom. None of us are perfect, and we don’t need to be, but I believe in you 110%. :)

  2. How I feel about how I look varies from day to day (and sometimes from hair dye to hair dye). The woman I most admire is my late grandmother. She instilled in me a love of reading and encouraged me to write stories when I was a child. I would sit at her kitchen table and scribble stories on paper, and she would read every one of them.

    • She sounds amazing, Angela. You are so fortunate to have had such an inspiring and sensitive woman to influence you in some of the most important formative years of your life. What great memories!

  3. I have lost so much weight that I have skin that hangs. And when you get passed 60 the skin does not tighten…it hangs. So I want a thigh tuck…..oh and clip my wings under my arms. This is when I wave they don’t wave too. I’ve always had a body image issue. I escaped by reading.

    • Damn, those dreaded bat wings! Mary, every picture I’ve seen of you you are beautiful, but more importantly, your zest for life and humor make you a rock star in my book! You wanna do a campaign with me? Message me on FB and we can be buddies… ;)

  4. Hmm, if I could write to my younger self I’d say don’t sweat the small stuff. I’d also say be true to yourself. Don’t let the opinions of others steer you from what you want. Oh yeah, and I’d put a little note in there about buying Pfizer stock because that little blue pill would have made me rich. Great post, Misty!

    • Josie Matthews says:

      REALLY good note, Renee…could you copy that to MY younger self? Cause if I had to write to her I’d probably totally mess her up! I’m still figuring things out.

    • Yes, opinions from others can totally get us off course! And I love the don’t sweat the small stuff… There are definite advantages to getting older and that’s one of them! :)

  5. What beautiful words, Misty! I love this post. We all need this reminder. I think there is so much in life we miss out on because we become distracted by ‘I wish I were better….’. I put so much blame on the media, but truly the blame is in our makeup, I suppose. Could I ever become that self-assured to not care what people think about how I look, what I choose for myself and my family, how I live my life? I dont know….That soft place inside us, the little girl in us, always wants to be ‘accepted’, usually wants to do what is right, but sometimes we falter…’am I right?’… ‘am I acceptable?’. I think confidence and self-assurance is what I admire most in women. Not the fake stuff that puts the strut in their stuff…but the real stuff that surrounds them with an aura of true inner peace. I want that inner peace…and strive everyday to find it. Daily challenges usually rain on my parade, but I keep putting up that umbrella and try to focus on finding the love I have in my heart for myself and for others. It’d be so much easier if they made a medication for that! :)
    Love you dearly, Misty, and YOU are one of my favorite people….
    J
    PS…I hate my boobs!!!

    • Love you more, Josie. We have to find a beach somewhere – someday – and talk about all this. I think when we get together for a vacation we just won’t stop talking. You don’t see this in yourself, but there is an inner light in you that just draws people to you. That inner light is a combination of compassion, spiritedness (f*ck yeah, that’s a word), heaps of creativity, intelligence, and humility. It’s irresistible. And totally lovable.

      For realsies. xoxo

  6. I love your post and your list of what makes a woman beautiful.

  7. Thank you for this post. This is how I discovered the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest. You’ve outlined some wonderful traits. My favorite is compassion and empathy. These qualities make a woman truly beautiful. They are qualities I especially appreciate in the women who I am fortunate enough to call my friends.

    • Thank you, Reese. Yes, I totally believe in surrounding ourselves with people whom we not only admire, but also those whom we can totally be ourselves with. Enjoy the blogfest! :)

  8. It’ve been stuck in my writing cave and finally had a chance to crawl out before bedtime to check emails and blogs. Misty, I loved this. LOVED it! I saw myself in so many lines. One of the best parts of being a writer is encouraging other women on their road to publication. I love helping them and verbally building them up–a type of writerly-sisterhood. Yet when I am “down on myself” because I feel my many inadequacies as a writer, I have trouble believing other’s words of affirmation. Wny is that? Why is the female gender rife with insecurities? Is it part of the difference between the genders? Look about you. If an appliance, an electronic device or car isn’t working, a man will grumble, “That damn thing.” A woman will ask, “Oh, God, what have I done now?” Men don’t suffer from the many hang-ups women do. They’ll try anything, and if they look the fool for doing so, they never see it. Never. A woman will agonize over and dread making a fool of themselves. And when was the last time you heard a man ask, “Do you think these jeans make my ass look big?” Conversely, women will work through pain. Men expect the world to come to an end when they have a headache. Is it how we’re raised? Or something more innate? I wish I knew. But as I’ve said before: I’m for anything that empowers women, which is why I found your post priceless.

    • Thanks, Vonnie. All your thoughts have really resonated with me, too. I wish I knew the answer to the question, “is it how we’re raised?” because then I could try to do something different with my daughter!!

      The thing is…this might just be another paradox…how this insecurity makes us stronger empathizers, more compassionate?????

      I have no idea. But like you, I think just opening the discussion and sharing the love and beauty that’s inherent in so much of a woman’s DNA is empowering and uplifting. Thanks as always for adding so much to the discussion.

      xoxo

  9. What a great post. I especially love this:

    “The thing is, a woman doesn’t horde her treasures if you but seek them out. She will gladly pour them into your hands if you come with a pure affection.”

    So true. The most beautiful people are willing to give you everything, no strings attached. And that makes you want to give them the world. I aspire to be one of those women.

    Great post.

    • Well said, Renee! Aspiring to be one of those women means you’re likely most of the way there already. What a lovely goal! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog! (((hugs))) :)

  10. What a beautiful post, Misty! You brought tears to my eyes. I especially love the first aspect–”my parent, my child, my pet.” That really resonated with me :)

    It might sound silly, but the women I look up to are the Chicks. Being the baby Chick (I think… Wait, Ang, how old are you? ;) I’ve learned so much from each of you about embracing myself as a woman, I’ve learned that no dream is too small, and that I have my whole life to achieve them. You’ve taught me the romance I thought would diminish as I age, actually gets better after 40 (and so will sex, yay!). Lol. You inspire me to learn from your mistakes and take to heart the lessons you’ve earned. Thank you, Chicks!

    • Rachael, I definitely feel the same way about our blog family…and many of the women who return week after week to join our discussions. I feel like I grow a little more every time I interact with y’all. So glad you’re in the nest! Love ya. ;)

  11. I’d have to say my roommate from college is one of the most beautiful women I know. She’s cheerful and gets excited about everything and her enthusiasm is contagious!

  12. Oh God the thigh comment hit home! My weakness! But then I think about what Julia Roberts said to her friend in Eat Pray Love, about how many times has a man ever left the room when you’re naked. None. Ok, so get over it already! And then they gorge on real Italian pizza! Yum! Off to delish in something that will make my thighs look real goooood! LOL

    Love your post, and blog name btw! Too fun!

    • “how many times has a man ever left the room when you’re naked. None. Ok, so get over it already!” — Oh, I just LOVE THAT!

      Thanks so much for that little extra kick in the pants…I’m brewing some ideas to showcase my thighs to my man. ;) And I’m off to visit your blog next…

  13. Thighs… I have ‘em. lol :-) Mine meet in the middle still (but not for long, when I have my way), and have grown distractingly jiggly. Ah, well.

    I love the idea of a woman’s beauty stemming from the very paradox that surely led to the frequent male claim that women are a mystery. I can see it – the paradox – the way you’ve presented it.

    What are you willing to do to better embrace and recognize your own beauty? In other words, what’s your campaign? I do love a project! :-) My campaign is embrace myself as I am, “warts and all,” even as I continue on my self-propelled path to physical health (which, not paradoxically at all, is in direct relation to my mental and spiritual healthy). It’s my Whole Health Campaign. Now that I’ve named it, I need to run with it.

    Thanks so much for the wonderful insights, Misty.

    • Whole health – exactly, we aren’t just our physical bodies. The most beautiful women are those – like yourself – who are on a path of self-discovery and self-awareness. I love that you brought that up, Ellen, and that you stopped by! Peace on your journey! :)

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