I watch my 19-year-old daughter prepare for a Memorial Day party. The dress she has chosen—strapless and flowing—fits her five foot, six inch, size two frame perfectly. Her big eyes lined in black, her thick eyelashes made even thicker with mascara blast what is already apparent to her mother: that she is perfect. Still my daughter finds fault with her appearance, fat on her thin body, imperfections on her youthful skin.
“Sweetheart,” I say, “find your inner goddess, know that you are perfect in every way no matter what the mirror tells you.”
As I say these words, I realize that it is not the mirror’s judgment it is our self-judgment, our self-talk that serves to silence the goddess inside each and every one of us. With the passing of the unofficial start of summer as Memorial Day morphs into a blurry collage of BBQ, beach, family and friends, I find myself in a panic—three months of bare arms, bare legs, and the dreaded bikini.
How do we find our inner goddesses with Kim Kardashian’s QuickTrim body, Beyoncé post-baby beach figure, and Brad and Angelina huddled together with airbrushed smiles staring at us from the not-be-be-missed perch of the supermarket checkout line? How do we tear away from the ubiquitous measuring stick of media that has so ensnarled the thinking of our girls, our women, and even our boys and men? The answer is simple but not easy: We quiet those voices by empowering ourselves through the unleashing of our inner Aphrodite or Apollo.
Writer Alice Walker said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” So let’s just all take in a deep, collective breath as we welcome the approach of summer by claiming our power, by telling ourselves that we are perfect just as we are, and by donning without judgment that sleeveless dress, pair of shorts, and even that bikini.
Stephanie Payne McBride