Friday, February 25, 2011

Beautiful You, a Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance, by Rosie Molinary

Rosie Molinary is the author of Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image and Growing up Latina and more recently, Beautiful You, a Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance. I had the opportunity of interviewing her a few years ago, for my weekly book section in La Palma, of the Palm Beach Post, and she has now accepted to grace my own Success Diaries with her words of encouragement for other women.

LCL- What is your definition of success and have you achieved it?

RM- For me, success is an experience and not a destination.  Being successful is always striving to be my best, pushing to give the world the best I have to offer while refining who I am.  Given that, some days I am more successful than others.  I can tell at the end of the day if I’ve lived it in the way that I intended or if I took a short-cut or checked out for a bit, and I use that feedback to refine who I am becoming and how I am becoming her on every given day.   

LCL- What makes your day?

RM - Experiencing and giving love.  I really feel most satisfied when I can authentically connect with another person- whether it is my son in person (so, in that case, really being with him when we are reading a book or playing Play-doh rather than skimming email), my parents over the phone, the grocery store clerk while I am checking out, someone over email, etc.  

LCL- How would you sum up the aim of your book Beautiful You?

RM- Here is my big picture point:  for every moment that we spend consumed in our bodies, we’re taking precious time and energy away from the work that we are meant to be doing in this world.  And there is just way too much that needs to be done in this world for us to be distracted.  
After I wrote Hijas Americanas, which was about the coming of age experiences of Latinas, I was struck by how the conversation in the book about body image and beauty perception as well as the messages shared about those issues- that we are all enough, that our uniqueness is beautiful- were universally embraced by women. Women are really hungering for affirmation and permission to embrace what they inherently know to be true.  They also want guidance for how to let that truth shine out in them.  I have always been particularly interested in journaling and in creating and taking actionable steps towards a larger goal and so the idea of putting together an action plan and empowerment guide for women where they could put together the pieces to their larger goal of loving and accepting themselves really resonated with me.   
Rosie Molinary
In Beautiful You, what I wanted to do was to take so much of the theory we know to be true about how to fall in love with yourself, generate self-acceptance, and offer yourself care and give women actionable steps that get them there. 
Each step is doable in a day, isn’t too overwhelming, and really motivates the reader to build on her process.  The assignments really vary from journaling type of assignments where you look at beliefs you have about yourself, joys you have experienced or challenges to actionable steps like working on maintaining eye contact with others, watching what you say or think about yourself, or writing a loved one a letter to let them know how you feel.  While the steps are each doable in a day, I am hopeful that people will feel such satisfaction from some of them- like maintaining eye contact- that they will incorporate them into their everyday behaviors, further boosting their confidence and sense of self-acceptance. 
Too often, we believe we will finally be content when our body changes in some way.  Actually, we’ll be content only when our mind changes, when we give ourselves permission and the tools to be content and that takes some time.  Beautiful You provides the tools- vision, passion, purpose, resilience, productivity- for every woman who wants to see beauty in a way that is true to who she is and not in the way the world hands it to her. 

LCL- Do you believe in women achieving a balanced life?

RM- It completely depends on what balanced means to you.  For me, what I now understand to be true is that I will always be attracted to more than I can do/ accomplish.  But the attraction keeps me vital, growing, and aware.  I do say no if I don’t feel called to do something and that helps keep things a little more in balance but I think the most important thing to do is enjoy the moment, attend to what you can, recognize that not everything will always get done- there is always something wait to be tended to in the wings- and to let guilt go about that.  We do the best we can every given day, and we need to be satisfied with the motion of that rather than punish ourselves for not moving faster.  A significant part of our life experience should be enjoyed and we deny ourselves that truth when we live in guilt and regret.   

LCL- What would you tell a woman who is facing a tough challenge and needs a boost?

RM- I would look her in the eyes and say, “You have gotten yourself to this point.  You have faced difficult challenges before.  You are more than enough, and you have everything you need.  Now, it is time to begin turning this challenge into an opportunity.” 

LCL- Anything else you may want to add ....

RM- I most want for women to release themselves from standards that weren’t of their own imagining and that keep them from being their best selves—and anything that keeps you from thinking positively about yourself and behaving respectfully towards yourself falls in that category.  I want us to take the time and make the effort to get to know ourselves and then to move forward from an authentic place.

We have to champion all women. As long as one woman is crippled by feelings of inadequacy, then the world that we have created is inadequate. Supporting one another and freeing one another from the limiting messages that we internalize can be revolutionary. We make the choice whether to internalize these messages. We make the choice whether to build up or tear down. We can have power in our lives by not taking in negative messages, and we can empower other women by not sending out negative messages.  When we begin to see women in all of their dimensions, we begin to eradicate confining stereotypes and world views. We start to see all women as complex individuals, and not just as part of a larger stereotypical whole.

We can choose to create a society that encourages women to be healthier and more whole, a society that unites us in our commonalities while acknowledging the depth of the individual. The more we challenge the limits we place on each other, the more open the world will be to all of us.

Thank you, Rosie! 

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