Wednesday, January 29, 2014

This One Question Will Change The Way You See Yourself Forever

This morning we woke up to an over-night snow dusting. Temporarily it has softened the landscape and beautified winter's harshness. It reminds me of the magic of foundation over face wrinkles and a golden tan over cellulite. It covers flaws and surfaces, only to reveal them again as it melts away. 

But beneath this frozen ground, important work is going on to prepare for the beauty of spring. Bulbs are rejuvenating themselves, woodchucks and chipmunks are sleeping deep in their burrows, the soil and seeds are taking a hard earned rest. These are the enduring, lasting, magical components hidden from sight, but important for long lasting health and growth of the lives that depend on them. 

This metaphor reminded me of a Dove commercial about beauty and how to redefine it. It also gave me an idea for a simple exercise any of us can do to remind us of what is truly unique and more than skin-deep beautiful about each one of us.

First the Dove commercial:

 High school girls were asked as a part of a photographic project to take pictures of themselves and their mothers through 'selfies'         (self-portraits) photographed with the cameras on their mobile phones. The mothers and daughters reveal before hand, some of their insecurities about their hair or eyebrows or the shape of their face.

One daughter revealed that her mother wanted her to wear make up to enhance her features and another commented that mothers pass on their insecurities to their children.

The real questions the professional photographer, working with the high schoolers, wanted to answer were: 
What are you hiding? 
What do others see when they look at you? 

The selfies were printed and blown up into giant portraits and displayed in an art exhibition for the subjects to go and view. Everyone walked around with stickies, writing compliments about the portraits.

Yes, there were comments  that said lovely eyes, pretty hair and nice skin...but many observers used words such as 


Both mothers and daughters were surprised and thrilled by others' responses to their selfies. Strangers did not see the tired eyes, red cheeks, hair that was too thick  or an ugly face. They saw kindness and strength and confidence.

How often have you looked in the mirror and focused on your flaws?  

Your eyes are too close together. 
Your hair is thinning. 
Your waist has thickened, 
Your muscle definition is non-existent. 
Those crow feet are turning into spider webs and so on....

But inside you, the part that is your essence - how beautiful is that? 

Has age made you wiser? More compassionate? More confident, friendly, decisive, creative, ....Can you take a photograph of those traits? What would the snap shot look like?

I thought about this and came up with an idea. I wanted to answer one question and came up with a simple way to get genuine answers.

Second: A Simple Exercise. (Involves no gym equipment, just someone you trust.)

I wanted to ask: What does someone see when they look at you?

When they have a picture of you in their mind, how would they describe you?

I decided to ask my mother to help me, since the Dove commercial had been about mothers and daughters. And being a good sport she agreed.  

These were the instructions. 

1.Think of 5 adjectives/ways to describe me from your perspective and I will do the same for you.

2. Write them in an email to me and send them to me. I'll do the same for you. 

3. Talk about the descriptions together to clarify, deepen and understand why we picture each other this way.

Do you know how your mother would describe you? Or your sibling or close friend?  Someone who has known you for years and sees you often? 

Do we tell the people we love that we think they are courageous or strong, intelligent or intuitive? This is lasting beauty, a beauty that does not wane and lives deep below the surface. This is the beauty that remains when we take off our make up or the tan fades.

This is what I wrote to my Mother. 

1. You look more beautiful with each passing year, lovely eyes and smile
2. You are empathic and kind
3. Extremely smart,widely read and well informed
4. Talented, intuitive cook
5. Incredible listener and loyal friend

This is what she wrote to me.     (She can't count but, I love 
no.6 so I'm keeping it!)

1. Sweetness
2. Lightness and strength - suppleness -  tempered steel - (Your Grandma Vivi's trait)
3. Directness and listening - empathy.
4. Dependability
5. Loveliness and wonderful (ness)
6. Can I have a sixth one? Arrow straight emphatic logic (from your Father)

And when I read what my mother wrote to me, my heart lightened and expanded. These adjectives are what I realized I should be checking have not faded, when I look in the mirror. These are what should be on a sticky note, close by, as I put on mascara or examine the not so fine lines around my eyes.

You can do this exercise as well. 

Ask someone you love and trust - a parent, spouse,sibling,cousin, child or close friend to do this exercise with you. And discover how beautiful you are deep down through someone else's camera lens. 

Then write their descriptions on a sticky and put them on a mirror,
that you look in often. 

When you are about to berate your skin-deep self, read these messages and look into your soul instead.  

When people who love us, remind us who we really are, the wrinkles and changes on the surface, remind us of the enduring compilation of what we have become. 

( I'd be glad to do this with any of you reading this, if you think I know you more than skin-deep - email me at

Look to the people who love you, bring you comfort and appreciate the beauty that does not change with the weather and is enhanced with the years gone by - who love you for who you are, not just on the surface, but deep inside. 

And remember this quote, when you are feeling unsure of yourself. After all, we are all a work in progress.

“We have to allow ourselves to be loved by the people who really love us, the people who really matter. Too much of the time, we are blinded by our own pursuits of people to love us, people that don't even matter, while all that time we waste and the people who do love us have to stand on the sidewalk and watch us beg in the streets! It's time to put an end to this. It's time for us to let ourselves be loved.” ~C. Joybell C via Sanzplans

Please leave me a comment and tell me if you did the exercise, how it worked and made you feel. Let me know what you thought of the Dove commercial ( Thanks Ella Tav, for posting on FB) and how we can redefine beauty for ourselves and our children.


Please email me at or leave a comment on this post below. I'd love to have your feedback. 
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  1. Thank you.I so agree with you ,Gilly.Our programs work the same:We help people connect with themselves INSIDE(emotionally,intuitively) first and then offer image change help to let them shine out who they TRUELY are.Authenticity not cover up.Love Lara

    1. Thanks for your comment Lara. It sounds wonderful.