My career to empower women started with my own questions:
What is a woman worth? What am I worth?
I was a hundred pounds heavier. I didn’t feel good about myself, so I launched myself into therapy and learning to care for my body. It’s downright disgusting the way we measure (downgrade) what a woman is worth.
I made learning photography, Photoshop, business and marketing my day job and spent 50-60 hours a week turning my weaknesses into strengths.
Throughout that process, I went from feeling unworthy most of the time to worthy some of the time.
It was strange how I spent my life saying: you don’t deserve (your body, your health, your boyfriend, your job). Then I started telling myself that I not only deserved them but had worked hard for them.
I still have days where I wonder if I deserve the blessings I have. I think women have been given mixed messages our entire lives–
• You must look like a super model to deserve happiness.
• This is even more true AFTER children when it’s much less likely based on science alone.
• You must have a challenging, satisfying, lucrative career to be happy.
• You must be the most patient and loving mother and give all of yourself to your children.
• You must simultaneously do the same for your career.
• And you must make your husband happy. Bring home the bacon. Cook it up. In heels and 1950s apron.
• We grow up with these expectations. We silently judge and are jealous of women we think are better at life than us.
• We’ve been taught to compete with other women for their blessings while discounting our own.
• We’re put down as women by men. By other women.
• But the worst and most damaging voice is the one inside our heads and hearts.
No one could ever maintain all of these things at once. Every once in awhile, I’ll nail one and tell myself I’ve got a handle on this thing called life. But even then, I question my worthiness and have a litany of criteria I’m not meeting for “worthiness.”
How does this change? For me, it was by focusing on chasing my own dreams.
Self-love takes LOTS of practice. Think about how many years you turned a negative voice toward yourself. It will take time and effort to undo. They say it takes thirty days to develop a new habit.
American singer-songwriter and actress, Taylor Swift, (who I’m now a huge fan of) recently stood up for herself and her work. As an artist who charges for her time and talent, I can’t help but respect someone who can stand against the tides. Many will criticize her because our society tells us we’re not worthy and we don’t like a woman who rocks the boat.
I have a challenge for you, Dear Readers:
Spend thirty days starting your mornings with saying something wonderful to your reflection. Then say one blessing. Report back in a month (email me here) and I’ll interview five of you. With the hectic holidays and the many extra calories, you’ll find plenty of times that you’ll chide yourself. It’s a great time to practice a new way of speaking to yourself.
Here are some suggestions to jump start you:
• You’re worth every sweet “I love you” from your child’s lips.
• You’re worth every snuzzle from the animals in your life.
• You’re worth every uplifting word from your partner.
• You’re worth every compliment your straight-talking besties give you.
• You’re worth MORE than every dollar you’re paid for you job.
• You’re worth every moment of every night that you’ve stayed up with a sick child.
• You’re worth every smile and laugh from loved ones.
We can do this. You are more worthy than you know. But YOU have to believe it. Help rock the boat. That’s the only way things will change.
Iman Woods is an American artist who specializes in pin-up photography. Through a unique and therapeutic process, she’s spent over a decade in perfecting, Iman helps women undo the damage from a negative self-image and unrealistic beauty industry expectations. She helps women embrace their own style of beauty and see themselves in a new light. You can find her on her website, ImanWoods[dot]com.
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