|I tend to have a lot of "Ohhhhh, no" moments. "Aha! Moments"? Not so much.|
Dearest Oprah Winfrey,
I love you, girl. But I've been following you in some capacity for years now and I'm still waiting for my very own "Aha! moment" to alter my petty existence. I'm considering requesting a refund...
And so my letter would have gone. Except, insightful moments are kind of like dominoes, in the sense that you can get struck by somebody else's moment and ride on the coattails of it. This is exactly what happened to me last week when I picked up the April 2013 copy of O, The Oprah Magazine. Inside was an article by writer Lauren Slater called "Getting Lighter". My first thought was no, no, no, I straight out refuse to read anything more about mindfulness and how it can make me less dark and twisty. But then I realized that her article really wasn't about that.
Instead, it was about how our oft-neglected outsides (a.k.a. appearances) really do play into how we feel about ourselves overall. While this idea is by no means novel, Slater, who describes her former self as a "schlump" and "frump" in the article, strikes the perfect balance between self-improvement and self-acceptance, by embarking on a three week experiment to see if dressing up and grooming herself a little will help with her lifelong battle with depression.
Slater doesn't hit the gym hard, but instead indulges in bubble baths and shaving her legs. She gets a good hair cut, and dresses up each morning simply to head to her home office in the next room. She dolls up for nobody but herself and finds she kind of digs it.
She also infuses her article with a healthy dose of realism by remarking:
"I was not able to completely dress my depression away, but when it -slam! bam!-returned each day, it had to tussle with a woman whose heels hoisted her high, who could confidently kneel and cup the faces of her children in her hands, who knew how to tend others because she tended herself."
As someone who's dealt with similar baggage my entire life, I truly believe that sometimes all you need to do to calm that critical, bleak beast inside your head is to distract it with something so pure and lovely that it has no counter argument to offer up. It's no coincidence that I feel prettiest when I'm at my martial arts class (it helps that I'm often surrounded by men), blogging, or stringing my favourite pair of pearls around my neck. Because of Slater's insights, I too am trying to gussy up, if only so that the auto-repeat button in my head loops to the tune of "you smell nice" instead of "you look like you are about to give birth to your latest meal".
Slater says that she doesn't know whether this lifestyle change is going to stick or not, but for the time being it's lead to accepting invitations that she would have previously knocked down, like going for a nature hike with a friend. My favourite snippet in the entire article is surrounding this very hike, where she describes the thrill of skinny dipping on a warm day,
"My friend, who is thin, stripped off her clothes and, suddenly, even though I was fat, I followed suit, because I had some chutzpah now. That's what it came down to. Chutzpah. Dressing up gave me the confidence to dress down. To strip."
All I can say is, here's to chutzpah! And Lauren! And the people behind the Oprah magazine dynasty for including this great author in this month's roster! And to the expensive haircut I just got that makes me feel mostly broke, but also kind of stellar!