Rosie Molinary is the author of Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image and Growing up Latina and more recently, Beautiful You, a Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance .
Rosie teaches courses on body image at the University of North Carolina. She is also an advocate for positive body image, diversity, and her passion: writing. Rosie is the mami to a 2-year old Ethiopian boy and found the time in her busy schedule to answer our questions on balance, Latina body image, and self-awareness.
Q: Do you believe in women achieving a balanced life?
A: It completely depends on what balance means to you. I now understand that I will always be attracted to more than I can do and accomplish. But the attraction keeps me vital, growing, and aware. I do say no if I don’t feel called to do something and that helps keep things a little more in balance, but I think the most important thing to do is enjoy the moment, attend to what you can, recognize that not everything will always get done.
Q: What can Latina moms do to boost their self-esteem and self-image?
A: Several things, which I will expand upon separately:
Break your self-deprecation habit. Too often, we let unkind words pass our lips about ourselves without a thought. We should catch and correct ourselves, because our whole lives are affected by how we think and speak about our bodies.
Have a comeback. Think of the jabs you sometimes hear from friends and family members. Perhaps they are about your appearance, your relationship status, or whether or not you have kids. Now take some time to come up with the perfect comeback. The next time it happens, what can you say to let that critical person know that you would like to be treated differently or that your body is off limits for discussion?
Embrace your passion. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is a passion, something that brings us so much joy and satisfaction that we can’t help but feel successful when we are doing it. With a passion, we can’t help but feel like we have something to offer.
Make eye contact. Much of our confidence is projected through our eyes. Avoiding eye contact is just one way of communicating to the world that you want to be invisible. It also communicates to the person whose eyes you are avoiding that he or she isn’t worthy of being seen, even if you don’t mean to send that message.
Stop body checking. Watch for times when you are checking yourself out in mirrors, windows, even shadows. When you catch yourself doing it, take a breath and change your focus. By curtailing the behavior that fuels your obsession, you train yourself to turn off the tape that keeps cycling in your head.
Q:How can we positively influence our daughters in regards to loving themselves?
A: There is a lot that mamis can do in this respect:
Watch your language. From an early age, children watch and mimic their parents. If you are prone to belittling yourself, your body, or others, you are teaching your child to think and act that way towards herself and others. By watching your language, you model for your child what’s appropriate in terms of self-acceptance and acceptance of others.
Offer sincere compliments. Children need to know that their talents, values, skills, and personality are what you value. Ground your compliments on what a child does. But make sure your compliments are earnest. Even the young can spot insincerity.
Give a child a journal. Self-awareness is a powerful tool. Helping a child find her inner voice is providing her with a security net for her future. By giving a child a journal and encouraging her reflection, you are encouraging her journey to self.
Help a child find a passion. What I found when I did the interviews for Hijas Americanas is that the women who were most secure during their adolescence were the women who had found a passion at a young age, whether it was sports, writing, doing community service or developing their artistic skills. We are at our most joyful and most purposeful when we are engaged in something we love. By helping a child explore her interests until she finds her passion, and then encouraging her in her passion, we are giving her a gateway to compassion, commitment and, ultimately, confidence.
Beautiful You is the latest inspirational book by Rosie Molinary, Seal Press, 2010.