This conversation about beauty and self-esteem has been underwritten by Global Influence for Dove; however, all opinions are my own

Me at 19 - 1980
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Is it true the beauty really is only skin deep? If you’d have asked her that question at 19, she’d have said yes. At that time of her life she was caught up in making sure that she looked her best at all times. That meant an hour spent every morning sitting on the bathroom counter drying and curling her hair in her Farah Fawcett look. With its long, loose, and casual looking curls, the casual-looking hairstyle actually took hundreds of dollars and many hours at the beauty parlor. Once her hair was perfect and sprayed with many layers of Aqua Net,  she started on my makeup. That took another 15 minutes while she put on wrinkle cream (really at 19 she though she had wrinkles?!? What was she thinking?!?) and a full face of makeup.

Then it was time to select an outfit, iron it, make sure it was perfect, and then pick out shoes. One hiccup in the process would send her spinning out of control and into her closet to empty out the contents onto her bed to find the perfect belt or accessory. Yes, it took her 2 hours to get out the door every day and she simply WOULD NOT leave the house without full hair and makeup.

But why was she so obsessed with being perfect? Because people who were close to her reminded her daily that she wasn’t. She was tall, had big feet, and would never be a size 6. Ever. And for some reason they thought they needed to tell her that, as if she hadn’t noticed.

She internalized all of their comments and she  let it color how she though about herself and that made her act on it. She never went to the beach, never wore a swimsuit or even shorts, and was constantly worried about being fat. In fact, the photo above is the only time you’ll ever see her in a sleeveless top. She was on her way to go camping, yes full makeup and hair, and her boyfriend at the time convinced her to take off the shirt she was wearing over it. It took a lot of convincing because she was sure  her arms were too fat.

Beauty and Motherhood – Giving Up or Making Peace

Then she became a mother and she laid all that self-doubt aside. No, she didn’t give up on herself. She simply realized that there was more to life than the perfect outfit or a hairstyle that required constant attention. Thankfully she married a man who adored her no matter what she looks like, so she settled into a casual style that was easy to maintain, though she still never left the house without styled hair, foundation, blush, eye shadow, and mascara. Her clothes became jeans and t-shirts, though they were mostly clean (save for unseen baby puke) and ironed. And she was happy.

Motherhood Changed Me for the Better
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Self-Esteem and Beauty– When Illness Interferes

Then she  got sick and gained 100 pounds.  And people notice and commented on it. A lot. Those first few years were very tough on her mentally because society blames fat people for their weight and deems them lazy. Once again she allowed those criticisms to hurt her to the core for many years.

That is until one day she  decided she’d had enough. She refused from that moment on to let anyone tell her how to feel about herself or her body. It was a liberating day and the first time she left the house without makeup on since she was a teen. And you know what? The world didn’t stop turning and she  didn’t instantly become a horrible person.  She proved that your lack of physical beauty didn’t dictate who you are on the inside.

Sure she was fat now, but she was the same inside, though more compassionate now she’d dare to say,  than the younger version of herself  sitting in front of the mirror trying to perfect her eye liner before she went out for the day.

elf-Esteem and Beauty: Separating the Two Led to Happiness
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That girl is me and at 52 I’m OK with who I am. Yes, I work on being healthy and eat an organic, vegetarian diet, but I’m not going to wait until I lose weight to love myself or to live my life.

I am OK just as I am though I still get reminded daily from complete strangers that I am too fat. Evidently they feel it’s OK to make remarks about my weight and I’m not talking uniformed kids or teens. These are adults who for some reason don’t understand it’s completely rude to make a comment about someone else’s body. They feel free to stare, snicker, and say things to the person sitting next to them like, “Well there’s sure a lot of fabric in that shirt!” Yes, a middle-aged man said that about me just two weeks ago at an airport. For a moment it stung. Then I thought to myself, yep, he’s right, and moved on and refocused on the amazing trip ahead. I refused to let him have one more minute of my life.

My wish is that everyone would learn the lesson I learned about beauty, self-esteem, and the meaning of life much earlier in their journey than I did. I wasted so many years hating the body I had and yet now when I look back at those pictures they make me realize that I was just fine then, too.

Beauty – Where are You?

Take a look in your mirror today. If you lose weight, gain weight, color your hair, get your nose fixed, have plastic surgery, etc., will any of that change who you are inside? I say no. So enjoy you. Be you. Love you. I promise you’re worth it.

Walgreens/Dove Mother’s Day Promotions

I’m not alone in my quest to get people to appreciate who they are. Dove and Walgreens are committed to inspiring women and helping them build positive self-esteem. Once that’s done, they can reach their full potential and hopefully acknowledge that beauty is defined in different ways and who they are is just fine. In the spirit of Mother’s Day, Dove would like you to take a moment to inspire someone you care about. It can be a quick word of encouragement or a call to say I’m thinking about you. You can also go to Walgreens Facebook and create your customized Mother’s Day photo or Mother’s Day sticker to share.

Walgreens & Dove Special Offers and Discounts

They also have some in-store promotions you may be interested in. Right now if you purchase 2 participating Dove products, you’ll receive a promo code on your receipt to redeem for a FREE 8×10 collage print! (Offer valid with Balance Rewards card 4/27/14–5/31/14.) Or stock up with the Buy 1 Get one 50% off any Dove® products at Walgreens from 4/27/14 – 5/31/14. No matter what else you do today, go talk to the man/woman in the mirror. Do it. I’ll wait.