Just the Way You Are

I'm sure you've all heard this song by now, but I just wanted to point out how great I think it is!

It's nice to hear a song that doesn't just refer to women as "sexy" or "hot." And it's especially great to hear a song that tells girls they're "amazing, just they way [they] are!"

Bruno Mars (the singer) also points out a problem that, unfortunately, is way too prevalent in our culture. He says:

Yeah I know, I know
When I compliment her
She wont believe me
And its so, its so
Sad to think she don't see what I see

How many times do we do this? Do you ever find yourself brushing off compliments? When people tell you, Your hair looks great! do you say, "Thanks!" or do you answer with "You really think so? My hair looks awful today! I didn't have any time to do it, so I just threw it up!"  I know I do this, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.
It is sad that so many girls don't "see what others see." We are so busy critiquing ourselves that we don't believe it when other people compliment our appearances. I know I fall into this trap on a regular basis! The truth is that other people don't notice that tiny zit I've been freaking out about or the bags under my eyes or that I don't think I look "as good as usual." We are way more critical of our own appearances than others are!
So let's all try a little harder to remember:

Girl you're amazing
Just the way you are

You know what I'm going to do? This next week, I'm going to try and catch myself every time I think a critical thought. And when I do, I'm going to play that refrain in my head. Cause girl you're amazing, just the way you are. Maybe I'll even change "girl" to "Kell" to make it a little more personal.
Cause Kell you're amazing, just the way you are.

And so are you.

Try it with me?
Please? :)



Complimentary, part 2

Okay...well, it's a bit more than a week later.
Sorry. :\

So, for one week, I tried to go without complimenting anyone on their appearance.
It was HARD!

I never realized just how often I praise people on appearance-based things. Often times, I’m not even complimenting them as a person; I’m telling them how much I like their boots or their necklace. I actually did a pretty good job about refraining from giving these types of compliments, but there were a couple times when I slipped up. I like to compliment people, but I didn’t realize how shallow most of my compliments are!

During the week, I also became more aware of how often people compliment me on appearance-based things. I found myself really wishing that someone would tell me, “Kelli, you’re such a great dancer!” or “Kelli, you are just the kindest person I know!” I actually felt kind of disappointed when people told me things like “Your hair is really cute!” because I was working so hard to notice more important traits. During the whole week, I don’t recall getting anything but appearance-based compliments. Once or twice I even had a silly thought...Isn't there anything about me that people like? Or do they just like my outfits?

It was very interesting to notice how many appearance-based compliments were flying around. I think we commend each other’s appearances so often because it’s so easy. We all like to make others feel good, but it seems that we don’t like to put too much effort into thinking of something to say. It was actually challenging to find ways to compliment people--I really had to delve into their personality and find something I admired about them. Even though it wasn’t easy, I think that it was an extremely good experience.

Two very good things that came out of this challenge:
1. I found myself appreciating people more.
2. I made people smile--and they weren't just "Oh, thanks, I got it at Nordstrom" smiles. They were genuine "Wow, thanks! You seriously just made my day" smiles.

Try it out. I dare you. :)




After a very long absence, I'm back!

I really do apologize. I have so much going on that it's a wonder I can upkeep even one blog!
If you haven't checked out my other blog, do! I post pretty regularly and I like to think that I have interesting things to say :)

I'm planning on posting more frequently here as well! I've been thinking a lot recently about the topics this blog is centered around. So...hold me to it :) If I don't start posting, get on my case!

Anyways, my favorite class this semester is my Psychology of Gender class. I really wasn't too excited about taking this required course, but I love it! I am learning so much. And, my teacher feels very strongly about a lot of the same issues I do (e.g. sexualization in the media), so we have a lot of really great discussions about them.

In fact, this week we watched a clip from the movie "Reviving Ophelia," which is based on a book of the same name. In the film, the book's author (Mary Pipher) gave some suggestions of ways that we can help girls understand that they have worth which extends beyond their physical appearance. One of the suggestions that she gave to boys in particular was to compliment girls on things other than appearance.

So, our teacher gave us this assignment: for a week, we need to refrain from making any appearance-based compliments! She told us that whenever we feel like complimenting someone on the way they look, we need to stop and compliment them on something else. At the same time, she asked us not to abstain from giving compliments because we're only used to commenting on others' appearances; she wants us to focus on praising people for things that are lasting, such as their character traits.

I've only been doing it for two days so far, and boy...it's hard!

I realized that I give out a lot of appearance-based compliments. I kept having to stop myself from saying things like "You look so cute!" or "I love your outfit!" And, I'll admit--I did slip up and compliment one girl on her appearance at work yesterday (don't tell!).

Here's my challenge to you: try it with me! See if you can go for a week without complimenting people on their appearance. Really make an effort to compliment them on other things. So far, I've praised people on their cheerfulness, dancing abilities, kindness, and ability to put together great outfits (Okay...that last one is kind of pushing it! But her outfit was just too CUTE! I had to say something!)

So...can you do it? I promise, it's harder than it looks! :)
At the end of the week, I'll tell you about my experiences. Take the challenge--I'd love to hear how it goes!



Miss Utah!

I have completely neglected this blog...forgive me! I guess I'd have a little bit more motivation to keep updating it if I knew that people actually read it.

Anyways, I competed in the Miss Utah pageant about a month and half ago...it's kind of the anticipated high moment of being a local title holder. It was a great experience! I wrote about it on my other blog, Blissful Nothingness. You can check out the post about how I did here. I also have another post from that blog that focuses on breaking the pageant stereotypes here if you're interested. :)

So, again, I apologize. I'd like to upkeep this blog and keep posting things, but I'm just going to get busier with school starting and it's going to get even harder. However, I'm really going to try to post something occasionally!



This Girl Knows the Meaning of Self-Confidence!

I absolutely LOVE this video! It is so cute.

Kids often have such a strong sense of who they are...this little girl is exhibiting extreme self-confidence, self-esteem, AND self-acceptance! It might seem a little bit silly to imagine ourselves doing something like this...looking into the mirror and saying things we love about our lives...but why should it be silly? Maybe if we were to tell ourselves more often, "I love my hair, I love my haircuts...I can do anything good!" we might be more prone to start believing it. Somehow, in the transition from childhood to adulthood, we lose this sense of happiness and excitement that comes just from being alive. So why not try it out?

TRY IT OUT: Start saying a daily affirmation to yourself. Last post, I talked about making a promise..."I promise to always love my _____." Every day you look in the mirror, make an effort to tell yourself how much you love this feature, whatever it is. Wow, my hair looks great today! or I'm so lucky that my hair always does what I want it to do! Each day, start noticing other things you love about yourself and make sure to vocalize them.



Self-Esteem part 2

Last time we talked a little about what self-esteem was and the negative effects that low self-esteem can have on girls.
But what are some ways to help foster high self-esteem?
Girl Scouts' uniquely ME! gives a list that I think is a good place to start from. These tips are all simple, straight forward things that girls can work on every day. They're probably things you've heard before, and you might think, "Are doing these things REALLY going to help boost my self-esteem?
YES! But self-esteem isn't something you can build in a day. It takes time. I think that these tips can help out.

  1. Celebrate you!
    Reward yourself when you have accomplished something! You don't need to wait for others to recognize what you've done.
  2. Surround yourself with positive people.
    Spend time with people who are upbeat and feel good about themselves. They, in turn, will put a smile on your face and help you feel good about yourself.
  3. Challenge yourself to try new things.
    Try a ropes course, learn some new dance steps, speak in front of a large group. Stepping outside of your comfort zone to try new things is a great way to grow.
  4. Be good to your body.
    Exercising, eating well, and getting plenty of sleep will help you move toward a healthier you—inside and out!
  5. Find and express the real you.
    No other person has the unique combination of qualities that you have! Be proud of yourself and be courageous enough to express your true feelings.
  6. Have a positive mental attitude.
    A positive attitude is contagious! You'll feel good and people will want to hang out with you.
  7. Learn from your experiences.
    Learn from your actions—both good and bad, and use the knowledge you gain to make positive decisions in the future.
  8. Find the humor in everyday life.
    When you can see the funny side of things, you'll be less stressed and more likely to handle tough situations better.
"I Promise to Always Love My..."
Last week I had the opportunity to  speak to a cheer camp for girls in junior high. I had them do something differently than I had the elementary school girls do. We talked a little about what to do when we look in the mirror and see something we don't like about ourselves. Obviously, it's hard to convince ourselves that our hair looks fine if we're having a bad hair day.
However, I think most everyone has something that they almost always love about themselves. Maybe it's their eyes, their smile, the way they keep their nails manicured.
Pick one thing about your appearance that you do love.
Make a promise to yourself...I want you to actually say this out loud. "I promise to always love me ______!" For me, I would probably choose my smile.
Remember that you made a promise to yourself to always love this part of you. When you start complaining about the way you look. I want you to focus instead on the part of you that you love. 

- Kelli 


What is Self-Esteem?

Another program that I think is awesome for fostering girls' self-esteem is the Girl Scouts' uniquely ME! program. Girl Scouts is partnered with the Dove Self-Esteem Fund that I mentioned in my last post. Anyways, they created their program in 2002 to help girls face life's challenges while building self-esteem. The program addresses topics such as handling peer pressure, healthy eating, the power of positive thinking, and relationships. I especially love their tagline:
"you can change the way you look or you can change the way the world looks at girls." 
 You can check out their website here for more information.

Today, I'm going to talk a little bit about what self-esteem is, and I mentioned uniquely ME! because that's where I'm pulling my information from. A lot of it is word for word. They have one of the best definitions of self-esteem that I've found and I love the way they discuss it. (Plus, you know I'm not just making this up!)

So what IS self-esteem?
According to the National Association for Self-Esteem ,someone who possesses self-esteem feels capable of meeting life’s challenges and also feels worthy of experiencing happiness. Individuals with high self-esteem can be characterized by the following traits: 
• Tolerance and respect for others
• Ability to accept responsibility for their actions
• Having integrity
• Taking pride in their accomplishments
• Being self-motivated
• Willingness to take risks
• Being capable of handling criticism
• Being loving and lovable
• Seeking the challenge and stimulation of worthwhile goals
• Wanting to take control of their lives

Self-esteem means having confidence in oneself, in addition to being capable of feeling self-satisfaction. It is important to note that a strong sense of self esteem is based on values and self awareness; it is not a sense of "false bravado", which often contributes to bullying behaviors.

What causes low self-esteem? (List taken from "Empowering Teens To Build Self-Esteem,” Suzanne E. Harrill, M.Ed. 1993.)
• Believing the negative and hurtful words and
actions of others
• Living with people who did not or do not love
and respect themselves
• Having negative thoughts about performance,
looks, family income level and I.Q.
• Being under or over-protected as a child
• Not being taught “I am good and of value and
loved no matter what”
• Doubting the love of one or both parents (the
absence of parents also hurts)
• Being punished without ever being taught to
separate self from bad behaviors
• Being compared to others or to perfect standards
that cannot be met
• Thinking that “you” are your possessions,
clothes, car, grades, job, looks, or I.Q.

Why is low self-esteem so dangerous?
Low self-esteem is becoming more and more prevalent among pre-adolescent and adolescent girls in our country. Research conducted by organizations including the Dove Self-Esteem Fund demonstrates that risky behaviors (smoking, drinking, cutting) and eating disorders are often associated with low self-esteem.
Do you remember some of the statistics I reported in my initial post? Well, here's a re-cap...

Low self-esteem significantly impacts girls' feelings about their own beauty:
• 71% of girls with low self-esteem feel their appearance does not measure up – they report not
feeling pretty enough, thin enough or stylish/trendy enough (compared to 29% of girls with high selfesteem).
• 78% of girls with low self-esteem admit that it is hard to feel good in school when you do not feel
good about how you look
• 92% of girls think they need to change something about themselves to be beautiful

Low self-esteem negatively affects girls' confidence in all areas of their life:
• 7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including based on their looks, performance in school and in their relationships with friends and family members.
• 62% of all girls feel insecure or not sure of themselves.

Girls with low self-esteem are significantly more likely to engage in dangerous and/or negative behaviors:
• 75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities such as disordered eating, cutting, bullying, smoking, or drinking when feeling badly about themselves (compared to 25% of girls with high self-esteem).
• 25% of teen girls with low self-esteem practice disordered eating, such as starving themselves,
refusing to eat, or over-eating and throwing up when they are feeling badly about themselves (compared to 7% of girls with high self-esteem).
• 25% of teen girls with low self-esteem resort to injuring themselves on purpose or cutting when they are feeling badly about themselves (compared to 4% of girls with high self-esteem).
• 61% of teen girls with low self-esteem admit to talking badly about themselves (compared to 15%
of girls with high self-esteem).

“Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem” commissioned by the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, 2008.

I think that those statistics are scary, and unfortunately, low self-esteem is more pervasive than ever before. What do you think? Were these statistics surprising to you?
So I think it's pretty clear that we need to help girls build self-esteem. But how do we go about doing this? Well, that's going to be the focus of my next few posts! So, stay tuned!