Tag Archives: natural

Enough! What Are We Teaching Our Girls?

I heard a commercial on the radio the other day. It started out sounding so empowering and encouraging. A nice young woman began by saying something like, “Do you struggle with insecurities and low self-esteem? Do you sometimes feel bad about yourself?” My ears instantly perked up. I was so excited that my favorite topic, healthy self-esteem, was finally being addressed—that someone was bold enough to advertise and advocate for self-confidence right there on the radio! I eagerly awaited the name of some tremendous life coach or a mentoring program for girls. I just knew something great was coming. And then she said, “Have you considered breast implants?” I could not believe it. I was in shock. Then she went on to sell the wonderful sense of empowerment that comes from breast augmentation. Then, the plastic surgeon came on to really drive the message home.

AM I ENOUGH?

I’ll be honest, it hurt my heart to hear them use ones deep feelings of insecurity—their deep-seated belief of, “I am not enough,” to sell breast implants. Imagine a young lady who is struggling with her sense of self-worth, hearing this commercial, opening herself up in anticipation of a solution to her insecurities, only to be offered another reason to look in the mirror and wonder to herself, “Am I enough?” 

What are we teaching our daughters? How will she know she is enough?

Of course, from a business perspective, I get it. The radio stations need advertising dollars so they’ll air the commercial. And I have a bachelor’s in advertising so I know that the plastic surgeon’s ad agency did an amazing job of getting to the core issue that will, no doubt, lead to A LOT of consultation appointments… But my heart still hurts.

It is hard for me as a mother of a beautiful little girl, who is beginning to notice differences between herself and those around her. She is at that point where meanings are placed on those differences. I can’t help but think, “My daughter could have been in the car when that commercial came on.” And what would I have said to her to combat that message? I mean, we listen to that station every day, and the way that the commercial started, I was eagerly expecting something good and empowering. I would have totally let it play to “see” what was coming next.

What new belief could I have possibly introduced to my daughter’s impressionable mind? Without thought, I could have unintentionally poisoned my daughter’s self-concept, and left her questioning if she is enough. What about all the preteen girls… and high school girls… and college girls… and even adult women who will hear that commercial and actually begin to believe (if they don’t already) that bigger boobs will be the cure for their low self-esteem?

YOU ARE ENOUGH

For me it’s always more about the message than anything. Despite my outrage, I am not completely against plastic surgery. Honestly, someone dear to me has breast implants and I totally supported her decision. She chose to have her surgery based purely on a fact, not on a hope.  She did not have some unrealistic belief that if she had the surgery, she would feel better about herself. She already felt great about herself. She is far from insecure and purely wanted bigger…. ones. This is why I was able to freely and honestly support her.

What I don’t support, is selling plastic surgery, or fake hair, or tanning, or bleaching, or contouring, etc. as a cure for low self-esteem. I’m an advocate for first learning to love the skin that you’re in. Because no amount of surgery will help a person to feel that she is enough. If that underlying belief is not cut away first, and replaced with “I am enough,” she can nip this and tuck that until she is grossly deformed and will still never feel beautiful. And ultimately isn’t that what it’s all about?

Marisa Peer is an internationally known therapist whose work I’ve come across recently. She teaches that looking at yourself in the mirror while repeating the affirmation, “I am enough,” can have a tremendously healing effect on one’s self-concept. I recently added my own version of this exercise in my S.I.S.T.A.TM Girls’ Empowerment Workshops. One young lady came back to talk to me after our session and told me that was her favorite part. In my workshops, I have the girls affirm each other, then affirm themselves. It is such a powerful time. I really get to see how uncomfortable it is for some of them to accept the attention and the words, “You are enough.” So, of course, I’ll keep doing it until they are comfortable saying it and hearing it.

Blessings!

If you would like Author Marlene Dillon to visit your institution, please shoot us an email at events@improudtobenaturalme.com!

5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Child’s Confidence

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It’s fair to say that every healthy parent wants their child to be confident. Self-confidence is not taught in school (if anything, it’s eroded there). So it’s our job as parents to build our children up so they can face the cruel world out there. 

Here’s a list of 5 simple things you can do to boost your child’s self-confidence.

1) Look them in the eye. 

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Far too often, when we’re really upset with our children, we tell them “Look me in the eye,” and begin to tear into them about how disappointed we are in their behavior. This creates a lasting visual in our child’s memory.  So every once in a while, switch it up. If you catch your child doing something good, use the same technique. Call her into the room, using all three names. When she gets close (probably wondering what she did wrong), get down on her level, tell her to look you in the eye, smile, and say something like, “I am so proud of you. I saw what you just did. You made a good choice and I just wanted to let you know I appreciate that and I love you very much.” 

2) Tell them who they are. 

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Affirm the natural talents you see in your child. It does something special for your child to hear positive statements about their abilities directly from you. No one’s opinion—no coach, teacher, friend, classmate, or neighbor—matters more than yours. If you notice that your daughter is excellent at throwing a football, tell her. If you walk in as your son is nailing an arabesque, say, “Wow, you’re an amazing dancer.”  And calling him by the title “dancer” allows him to picture being in that actual role. Now, rather than just thinking, “I like to dance,” he can see farther down the road, and think, “Hey, I could be a dancer.”

3) Be honest. 

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We all know the phrase “kids can be cruel.” Children don’t really have an edit button. They are blunt, they point out the obvious, and sometimes they can be pretty mean about it. To be clear, this point is not about being honest with your child. Be honest with yourself. Take the rose colored glasses off and look at your child. If little Jimmy has one gigantic nostril and one he can barely breathe through, you might want to start reinforcing his self-confidence in this area. I’m not saying that you should point it out to him, but maybe you should go out of your way to point out cool unique traits on other people. “Wow, Eddie Murphy has a really nice smile. He has a gap. That’s pretty cool and unique.” It may feel weird, but you’re building a foundation of comebacks for your child. So when Billy’s classmate says, “Your eyebrows are crooked,” his response will be, “Yeah, but I like them. Their unique,” instead of immediately bursting into tears and running home. 

4) Seek to Understand Before Seeking Understanding. 

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Our kids intentions are often far different from the outcome of their actions. Many times their attempts at independence, kindness, and scientific discovery, just look to us like a huge attempt to destroy our work or our clean home. Few things can crush a child’s self-confidence faster than getting yelled at for doing something they thought was a good thing. So as tempting as it is to immediately fly off the handle when you see red and yellow flowers drawn all over your work presentation, it will serve you well to train yourself to breathe before you react. Even if it’s through clenched teeth, ask, “What were you trying to do?” Trust me, when she replies, “you had a sad face when you were working so I thought the flowers would make you happy,” you will thank yourself for taking the time to understand her intentions.   

5) Avoid limiting keywords.

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A great way to boost your child’s self-esteem is to eliminate the words “just” and “too” when describing them or others. These words undermine truths about a child’s value and identity, and quickly turn a compliment into criticism. Hear the difference between, “Maurice is smart,” and “Beatrice is too smart.” By simply adding “too” it implies that maybe being smart isn’t such a good thing. Imagine what happens internally when you say to your son, “You’re too little to pour your own juice; you’re just 3.” In my house the rule is “you’re not too anything, and you’re not just anything.” This rule is applied outside our home, as well. I always immediately correct adults who say my daughter is “too tall.” I smile at her and say, “Yes, she is beautifully tall.”

There are many more ways that I will add in the future, but these should give you a good start. Test them out and let me know how it goes. If you have any to add, feel free to respond in the comments. 🙂

I Believe in My Book

“I want to spend the rest of my life loving my daughter and inspiring others. That is what I was created to do.” —Marlene Dillon

 If I see a sad cashier at Target, I’m in her line trying to encourage her. If I see a little girl with curly hair, I have to stop and give her a book. Empowering others is not just what I do, it’s who I am. I wrote I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! to give children an opportunity to learn that they are beautiful as is. Many parents don’t think to teach their children to be confident in themselves. It doesn’t happen automatically. My book is an amazing tool for starting that conversation.

I am very proud of the work I’ve done with little to no money, and I know I could have a much greater impact, if I had the resources. I wrote, illustrated and self-published I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! with no money in my pocket and my little girl sleeping across my lap. I am recently separated, sleeping in my parents’ basement, but the message is so necessary, and there’s no more time to waste—children need to know who they are and parents need to know how what we say and do impacts their self-worth. My book has provided me an awesome platform to hold workshops at public libraries, speak in schools and meet the most amazing people at networking events. Thanks to my current job as a teacher’s assistant, I have been able to purchase books (25 or so at a time) to present at fairs and various events. Although, the lack of funds has caused me to turn down numerous opportunities to share my message, I continue to share, network, and speak where I can.
I believe in my book. For all the children who require their parents to read I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! to them every night, for the little 4th grade girl I spoke to in a classroom who said, “I used to believe I was ugly, but now I know I’m beautiful,” for the child who’s likely never seen someone who looks like her on the cover of one of her books, and for the countless times parents have come up to me at events thanking me for writing it, I know it is necessary. I know it is a message that needs to be shared. And I know I cannot do it by myself.  As I sit here with tear-filled eyes desiring so desperately for the resources to reach more children, to visit other states,speak and hold workshops, and even to continue to give books to those who can’t afford it, I ask how you will you help me accomplish my dream? You can share, you can give, you can ask others who you know have the resources and would love to support what I’m doing to read this for themselves. However you can help, I ask you to because this is bigger than me. This is bigger than a single mom who wants to give her daughter her own room and a puppy. This is about the lives I was created to affect for positive change. I cannot do it without your help. Will you please give a $5 donation to my FundRazr and tell others of the work I’m doing? Please give and share, there is a link below.

Thank you for your time and thank you in advance for your support.

With much love and inspiration,

Marlene

Here’s the link to my FundRazr: http://fnd.us/c/2MCJ3/sh/6waf0

Next Event: Children’s Empowerment Workshop, Saturday, Dec. 21, 11—2, Woodson Regional Library (Chicago)

Check out my new promo video and please share below!

Give What You’ve Got

I recently had the awesome opportunity to speak to a group of girls on Chicago’s Southside. This is amazing group of young ladies is so full of promise, talent, and light. It was inspiring working with them, and I’m grateful to my dear friend Michelle Pechter and Aspire to Greatness for granting me the opportunity to “pour into” these young ladies for a few minutes. I walked into the event thinking of how great it would be to take the minutes allotted to speak a word of truth into their hearts—to tell them something that could change the course of their lives for the better.

So what did I tell these girls? What nugget of truth did I feel was the one thing that I could leave with them and feel I had fulfilled my purpose? I told them the one thing that I know now that would have accelerated the course of my life had I heard it earlier. I told them the truth, that it is more than okay to be yourself.

Special thanks to Getty Images!

It’s okay to be your awesome, unique self.

I told them that they are great as is. What does that mean? Well, in short, that the gifts, passions, and interests within them—their unique characteristics—are an amazing part of them that they should embrace and cultivate, rather than hide and alter to fit in. I told them that it is okay to want to be a doctor, if that’s what’s in you, and that it’s also perfectly okay to design doll clothes, if that’s who you are. I mean, think about it, while others scoff at the idea, somebody is getting paid top dollar by Mattel to design clothes for their dolls. It’s about not thinking small of who we are. We are great—each and every one of us.

I had to tell them the truth. Why? Because no one ever told me that, or at least not in a way that I could receive. I was already 30 when I began to halfway view myself as an artist, and I just started calling myself  an author.  I want children to know that it is okay to accept the gifts that are in them, to cultivate and celebrate those gifts.  I mean, I’ve spent at least 20 years trying to deny the creator I was meant to be—regardless of what evidence was all around me—and now, I know better. There’s no stopping me. I’ve been through some of roughest times of my life these past few years but I guarantee you, now that I know who I am, I won’t let anything stop me. It doesn’t matter what “setbacks” I’ve experienced, or what obstacles I’ve had to overcome. I know who I am now and she will not be denied. 🙂

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