How many of you have taken one of those online quizzes that have become so popular on facebook? I don’t do them anymore because the creators of these things now want access to your facebook contacts and those of everyone else you know or ever knew. I find the whole thing incredibly creepy.
Ten years ago (before I had to relinquish every bit of my privacy) I took one and the results were quite illuminating. I didn’t know it at the time but that quiz would be a kind of jumping off point in my work with women. Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy but I will do my best to summarize. The quiz displayed pictures of women with different physical characteristics from face shape, eye color to hair (color, length, straight, curly, etc.) and body type (short, tall, stocky, slight, broad shouldered, long-legged, curvy, straight, large breasted and not). It went so far as to show pictures of women who wore eye glasses and those who did not.
You checked off the features and characteristics of each woman that appealed to you. At the end of the quiz, a picture of a woman was revealed to you, seemingly with all the characteristics that appealed to you (and missing those that don’t). You were asked how similar or different are you in facial features and body type from the woman pictured? 1. Similar 2. Somewhat similar 3. Somewhat dissimilar 4. Completely dissimilar.
Of course it made sense to me that the further away you were from your preferred aesthetic, the greater the chance that your own appearance could be challenging to you. But this is not always the case. You also can find a certain look very appealing while also feeling completely comfortable in your own skin. There is however research that suggests that if your “ideal” is so far off from your own person, being content with your looks can be a challenge.
I haven’t been able to reproduce that quiz in its entirety but over the years I have collected a wide array of pictures and photographs and have taken it way beyond looks. Looks are only a tiny piece of a bigger puzzle and the personal journey to feel inspired, challenged and peaceful. I now have a seemingly endless collection of pictures of women as athletes, artists, writers, computer geeks, surgeons, and more. Women have instantaneous reactions and connections that are often punctuated with “I wish I were…” Of course, I tell them it is not realistic to aspire to a surgical residency if you don’t have a science mind or to paint like Picasso if you can’t draw a stick figure with a ruler, although when it comes to artistic talent, I believe everyone has some. I am living proof of this, as I had no idea I had any until I was forty. Dreams of becoming a concert pianist at sixty may be ambitious but these pictures have really helped women add, change, rearrange and reinvent themselves. Pictures give us permission to fantasize, dream and explore the things we are drawn to. Most of us need a concrete vision in order to begin the process of change.
So begin with these 5 things – a blank notebook, glue or a glue stick, a scissors, something to write with and a few magazines. Spend the next month randomly cutting out pictures of women that appeal to you. And then ask yourself these 4 questions: What do I want? What do I love? What excites me? Am I doing any of these things? Your pictures and your answers could be truly life changing or at the very least—the beginning of a wonderful self-inquiry process.
Don’t forget to drop me a word or two to tell me how it’s going.
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