There is no denying we live in an appearance-obsessed society. We are bombarded with images that purport to show what beauty looks like and opinions on how we can achieve perfection.The internet is overrun with articles that encourage us to look like our favorite star or to learn how to accept ourselves. I feel like I have whiplash of the mind!
First and foremost, I believe we should do what ever we want to make ourselves feel good about ourselves. Whole industries are built on the premise of improving our appearances using makeup, hair dye, wrinkle creams or plastic surgery. Television is full of shows that focus on makeovers, fashion and lifestyle. The problem arises when we are told or led to believe that the only way we can feel good about ourselves is to look or live like someone else, whether it is a celebrity or a Facebook friend who posts pictures of his or her apparently perfect life. Seeing these reminders of how our lives are nothing like them can make us feel we are somehow failing. That’s when the bag of Cheetos comes out and we plop down in front of our computer or tv and continue the cycle of longing for what we aren’t.
A recent article in our paper was entitled Society, not Mommy Needs a Makeover, and talked about how plastic surgeons across the country are advertising for Mommy Makeovers. These are designed for women who have given birth and are turning to surgery to reverse the effects of pregnancy and childbirth. The columnist pointed out that she has nothing against plastic surgery, the issue is the specific marketing to mommies and giving the impression that they are somehow less than perfect now that their bodies have been changed due to having a child. I agree with this, but where does it stop? Should we take issue with make-up companies that advertise products for reducing the look of wrinkles? What about hair products that encourage us to cover the gray? Then there is the fashion industry that tells us to dress to hide our flaws. Because these options aren't as extreme as surgery we seem to accept them without batting a volumized, extended eyelash.
My take on all this is to encourage you to look in the mirror and know that what you see is your own personal perfect. If you truly believe and know that you are beautiful then you will not feel a need to live up to what everyone else thinks you should look like. Oh boy is that easier said than done! We are all a work in progress. If anyone decides to dye their hair, apply the miracle skin cream that will erase ten years or go the route of surgery because it makes them feel better about themselves, I say go for it! The most important thing is to make sure you are doing it for yourself and not because you feel pressured by society to live up to an unrealistic image of perfection.
This week’s recipe is more of a guideline to making a quick and yummy dinner for warm summer nights. This recipe is perfect because you make it your own! You can combine the ingredients in any way you want.
Hot Summer Cool Grain Salad
2 cups, cooked and cooled, of a whole grain such as brown rice, whole wheat couscous, barley, etc.
1/2 cup of chopped greens such as arugula, spinach, radish greens, etc.
1/4 chopped fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, cilantro, etc.
2-3 cups chopped fresh veggies, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, beans, peppers, etc.
1 can rinsed and drained beans
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
3 tablespoons acid, such as juice from a lemon or lime, flavored vinegar or plain vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon favorite seasoning mix such as greek, chili lime, Italian, etc.
Sprinkle of favorite toppings such as roasted nuts, cheese, olives, capers, avocado , etc.
A couple of examples I have made recently:
Rice, quinoa, white beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes topped with walnuts, feta and olives.
Couscous, chick peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, arugula, and parsley topped with feta and almonds