I didn't know that I would have common themes, but it seems that I do...at least for now! Self Image and Body Image are issues that really touch my heart. They are things I have struggled with personally and now they are a concern for me when it comes to my own children and the youth who I work with.  I know that not everyone feels comforable being open about their feelings and what they struggle with, but for the most part it doesn't bother me.  I just want to be real.  Being fake gives false impressions and unrealistic expectations.  Especially if it helps you, I am honored to share.

So, let's make a deal and quit pretending that we have it all together...for our own sake and everyone else's.  I'm not asking you to confess anything, I'm just asking you to be real.  More on this later.

Thank you for being a part of my blogging journey!  This has been really fun and getting over 2,000 views in less that a month is super encouraging!  Thank you for sharing this adventure!
Last night I watched 3 hours of t.v. The commercials made me want to spend a million dollars and then cry...or vice versa. Do you watch much t.v.? Do you pay attention to how it makes you feel about yourself and your life? Here are some things I "learned," but not really-because I'm learning to see past it all. -My hair is dull and lifeless because I don't color it. When I touch my hair I get sad and look like this:  :-(  I need to stop at the drug store tomorrow and buy the special hair dye that makes my hair healthy and makes me look like this:  :-) Then, I will want to go to the park and frolic while all of the people admire me.-I am really fat and I don't have time to eat healthy or exercise.  People are looking at me weird because I have put on so much weight.  I need to call the phone number right away so they can send me the special powder. When the special powder comes in the mail, I will sprinkle it on any food I want and instantly start to lose weight.  People will notice and I will be admired for my tiny waist and beautiful hair while I frolic in the park with lots of energy! Yay!-My skin is blotchy and I look old. I need to remember to spend some time in the make up aisle when I go to buy the hair dye. There is a foundation that is made to look just like my skin, except perfect!! It even lasts for 12 hours so I won't get ugly before dinner.......-But I better get the face wash and night/day cream & eye cream & toner & all of the things while I'm at the drug store or else more wrinkles will come and I will get uglier.  Also, the foundation might make me break out, so the half hour morning and night facial routine will be totally worth it. -My single friends need to sign up for online dating so they can have a successful marriage someday. I will tell them tomorrow. -Crap- I need to order the new stompeeblankiestuffedtoy before my kids feel left out!!!! & I need one in the girl version and one in the boy version. Right now.It's too bad that my kids have no nice toys...that my single friends are so sad...that I have so many wrinkles and blotches...that I'm fat and lazy...that my hair is lifeless and ugly.  I am so grateful that my husband and I have jobs so we can afford all of the things I need to make myself normal and not so :-(.  I can't wait to frolic in the park and be admired!!!!!
Why I don't buy into the beauty product hype.

I've spent a lot of time identifiying problems with my body and finding "solutions" to those problems through beauty products.  Facial and body skin care lines, shaving products, deoderants, lotions, make up, hair products and styling tools, vitamins, hair color, teeth whitener, self tanner, etc.
I've spent the past 2 years eliminating most of those products. 
I stopped using so much makeup and my face stopped breaking out.  I stopped using a skin care line and my face stayed clear.  My face has been the clearest for the longest amount of time since I was a kid.  I wash my face about once a day with whatever soap I use on my body and hands.
That leads to the next thing I gave up...the search for the perfect body wash.  I use bar soap now-Ivory, Dial, or Dr. Bronners or something local if I'm feeling fancy.  I usually buy the bulk bar soap and put one in the shower and one at every sink.  It works great and I rarely use lotion.  I have a bottle of lotion in the cupboard, in case I need it. 
Here are some more things I changed:
Shaving stuff-I just use the bar soap and a cheap razor
Shampoo & Conditioner-I buy the combo or just shampoo.  Whatever the cheapest anti dandruff is...lovely, I know.
Make up-a daily "full face" is now mascara and blush, sometimes eyeliner.  Eyeshadow is added for fancy.  I've been bare faced quite a bit this past year, even to work or out to dinner.
Self Tanner-I'm white in the winter and wear sunscreen in the summer

Basically, I've decided to be okay with the human than I am.  I know that I'm getting older and I will get wrinkles.  I think that the amount of wrinkles I get is based more on genetics than if I had the right skin care line.  I'm ok with wrinkles.
The less I wear make up, the more it seems like heavily made up people are hiding.  I hope that they know that they are beautiful no matter what.  I know that I didn't think that I looked acceptable without a "full face" but that's just sad. 

At dinner tonight, Lilly was amazed at how pretty all of the servers were.  They were all really done up and wearing their tight OSU tee's. She and I will talk tomorrow and I will tell her that they weren't any prettier than anyone else...they were just wearing a lot of make up.  I hope she gets it.

Chris doesn't care that I've simplified this area of my life.  Because I'm a dork, I apologized tonight for not wearing makeup out to dinner.  His reply was "Why would I care?" He's a keeper. Also, I think he likes it that the beauty industry isn't getting so much of our paychecks. 

About the beauty industry...they are trying to make money.  I hope you know that.  They are telling you that you CAN be pretty or handsome if you use their product.  They are lying.  You are already great looking!!!  Their product will not make you a better person, I promise! It just makes them richer!

The media doesn't help either.  Celebrities, in my opinion, look like capitol people (Hunger Games reference).  Stop trying to look like them, it's not natural and it's weird.  Just look like you-it's better that way.

Please let me know know if and how you've simplified or if I can help you out.  I can also tell you more about my journey, if you'd like.  (Like selling for 2 separate beauty lines and being on the other side of the sale)

Remember to put on the absolute best beauty product every day: your bright, wonderful smile!

Here is why my body image is and has been pretty screwed up.I barely remember a time in my life when I have not been concerned about the way I look.  Actually, I remember when it really started.  I was in the 5th grade and at a new school.  10 years old, the new girl, & I began comparing myself to every girl I met.  I wanted to fit into this new place. 
I was always one of the smallest. As I grew older, so did my insecurities.  I envied the other girls who could fill out a dress and thought that no one could think that I was actually pretty because of the moles on my face. I started wearing cover up and foundation in middle school, as well as parting my hair on the opposite side than was natural, in attempt to hide the moles. I found some self-esteem from my ever affirming parents, and also from what I saw as my one strength.  I was thin.  Here's what I want to know...why did I feel the need to compare myself to other girls in the first place?  Why didn't I feel like I was valuable for THE PERSON that I am, no matter how I looked? Part of the problem was that starting in middle school, I didn't feel like I was good at anything, so I didn't hold my identity in any specific skill or talent. I had average grades and fought budding issues with anxiety.  I devoured teen fashion magazines.  I memorized makeup and body care techniques.  I thought that if I looked perfect, I would be perfect.  Looking back, I wish I would have poured all of that energy into my school work, my church, my family...anything, I guess.So, I'm a mom now and so...not.. perfect.  I've recently been trying to come to terms with having put on weight.  I used to compare myself to every woman in a room just to be sure that I was the tiniest.  It made me feel valuable.  I know, it's completely ridiculous, but it's true.  It's really pretty embarrassing to think about how shallow I've been.  I never thought less of others for being bigger than me, I just felt better about myself for being small.  For some weird freak of nature reason, I was super small after having my kids.  My body image was still warped due to the stretch mark tiger stripes covering my torso, but I was wearing smaller jeans than when I graduated high school.  Well, in the past two years, I have given up being a vegetarian, stopped going to spin class and been medicated with a variety of anti-anxiety drugs that have increased my appetite and slowed down my activity level.  Result?  3-4 jeans sizes.  I'm not the smallest person in the room anymore.  So, who am I?I'm discovering that I don't like wearing as much makeup as I used to because a big smile can look better than eyeliner.
I'm discovering that when it comes to my body, being healthy is what matters.  (Yes, I need to work on that!)
I'm discovering that being tiny doesn't offer me anything if I'm not happy.
I'm discovering that people like me no matter what size I am.
I'm discovering that I can be a better example than ever to the youth I mentor and to my own kids because I'm finally starting to grow up.
I'm discovering that the only strengths that I have to offer are the ones that are given to me by God for the purpose of encouraging others. That does not include being thin and constantly comparing myself to others.Wow, this post is pretty embarrassing.  Not because I'm telling anyone who reads it that my butt has gotten bigger.  It's embarrassing because I'm admitting how shallow I've been.  I'm blessed to serve a forgiving God.  I pray that God allows each of us to see the value that He has given us and that we will choose to share it with others. I hope that you don't struggle with your body.  But, if you do please know that God wants you to be confident for THE PERSON that you are and wants you to find JOY in creation and in other people.  I hope that me revealing some of my own baggage will help you know that you are not alone.
Can we try to let it go, together?  Please?
Trust me, a big smile is much lovelier than a tiny waist. [Hopefully coming soon---  the media and how it has affected my body image; more on minimalism; more on being old][I welcome your feedback and would love to know what you would like to read about]