A few weeks ago, while I was boarding a plane, one of the male flight attendants was checking me in. He looked at my passport, looked back up at me, and said "I like your hair better blonde. You should dye it back." My jaw dropped. What gives him the right—the entitlement—to comment on the way I look, let alone tell me which way he prefers I look? I am not there for his consumption!
This experience really got me thinking... Where does any human get off on giving another human being their opinion on how they physically look, how they act, or even what they are eating?
It reminded me of a comment that my first boyfriend made to me about the hair on my arms. What he thought was an innocent and frivolous observation spiralled into a major insecurity of mine for the next 15 years of my life. Before that comment, I never even noticed the blonde hair on my arms. If anything I even thought it was pretty. But one simple sentence made me want to Nair, shave, trim, or cover up my poor arms for years.
Everyone Has Insecurities
After sharing my airport experience on social media, I had a girlfriend who suffers from autoimmune-derived dark undereye circle and acne tell me:
...When I go makeup free during a breakout, complete strangers will come up to me with unsolicited advice on products and diet. They'll either bluntly dive right into it, or make small talk on the skytrain and then sneak it into the conversation. It's insane.
Obviously, if I'm leaving my house with no makeup and acne, I'm brave enough to face the world knowing that's what everyone might be looking at—but when strangers make comments, it feels like everyone is judging my physical appearance and that they don't care about what's inside or how I might feel sad or insecure about it. They are completely insensitive...
We all have an insecurity, or many insecurities, but the most distressing part about those insecurities, is that they almost always stem from a comment that someone made to us at some point in our lives. I think we all (myself included) need to put extra effort into being more kind and complimentary to one another, even to strangers. We need to teach our children to do the same, and to help them understand that whatever they say to another person may change the way that that they see themselves for the rest of their lives.
Photo by Rendiansyah Nugroho on
We are all human. We have all probably been that person to say something hurtful before, so let's just forgive ourselves and move forward in remembering one of the most valuable proverbs of them all...
If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
Unrealistic Modern Beauty Standards
When I see a photo of myself, my beauty is blurred by society's unrealistic expectations.
As a woman facing things like social media, photoshop, and facetune, there is an incredingly demanding paradigm of physical "perfection" that we are expected to meet. This is combined with an additional expectation that it all must appear effortlessness. We are expected to be popular and sociable but also (as women) meek and submissive. We are expected to be sexy but not "slutty." Our bodies should be toned but not muscular, because that's too masculine. Where do the contradictory demands end?
View this post on InstagramA post shared by Jaclyn Genovese (@jaclyngenovese) on Oct 10, 2019 at 1:35pm PDT
I do love the way that I look. But even then the first instinct when I see a photo of myself is to whiten my eyes, blur out the bags under my skin, hide any wrinkle or age spot, and, essentially, erase any sign of the life and joy I have experienced that is written on my face. I think I might need to shrink my nose (just a smidge). Is it normal to have a shadow between my nose and my cheek? Are my eyebrows too light? Why are we expected to have the skin of a baby, impossibly tiny noses, and hopelessly plump lips?
What Ever Happened To Inner Beauty?
Let's try a compliment swap challenge, where we replace our appearance-focused praise with character-related praise. Instead of commenting on a person's outfit or makeup, we can appreciate other's acts of bravery or kindness. We should enlighten ourselves in acknowledging how often we unconsciously reinforce the notion that a woman's (or any person's) worth is nothing more than the sum of their outward image.
What happened to the realness of the women like Frida Kahlo, Josephine Baker, and Yoko Ono, whose beauty is so true and raw that it takes my breath away. Frida had a unibrow and hair on her upper lip. Her nose was pronounced, striking. Her body was perfectly imperfect; she had uneven legs from both polio and surgery after an accident. But it was not in spite of these "flaws," that she was so beautiful. It was because of them. Her beauty is so deep that seeing a photo of her sends shivers down my spine. I want to be as real and raw and beautiful as all of these women. They are beautiful for what they have accomplished, contributed to, and stood for. They are beautiful for their truth.
That is the ultimate beauty.
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In this third week of mass social distancing (with more than 225 million Americans ordered to stay at home), CEOs are beginning to ask not only how to survive the pandemic, but what they will be surviving into. Radical events bring radical change, and the American workplace – and quite possibly the American economy – is in the midst of its most significant disruptive and potentially transformative experience in a century. So how can a business position itself for a post-pandemic world?
Liz Elting, entrepreneur, business leader, and CEO, guided the largest translation company in the world through world-changing events including 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis, both of which radically reshaped both her industry and international business. While nobody can predict the future, you can plan around unpredictability by keeping nimble, identifying new economic opportunities, and recognizing the changes happening to the economy, the country, and the world.
Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is an entrepreneur, business leader, linguaphile, philanthropist, and mother. After living, studying, and working in five countries across the globe, Liz started TransPerfect out of an NYU dorm room. During her tenure as Co-CEO, she grew TransPerfect into the world's largest language solutions company, with over $600 million in revenue, 4,000+ employees, 11,000+ clients, and offices in more than 90 cities worldwide. Liz has been recognized as a NOW "Woman of Power & Influence", an Enterprising Women" Enterprising Woman of the Year," and one of Forbes' "Richest Self-Made Women."
Liz Elting's Post-Pandemic Plan
The Past Is In The Past
"We have to keep moving forward. I don't think this has completely sunk in for a lot of people, but there is no 'back to normal.' Whatever the world looks like on the other side of this, it's not going to look like it did in January. Social distancing is in the process of reinventing how people work, blurring the lines between on and off the clock, while typically undervalued roles (such as supermarket clerks and restaurant workers) have quickly been revealed as essential infrastructure. Everything from the relationship between employer and employee to supply and distribution is going to have to change to account for the new realities we suddenly face."
"Being dynamic beats being efficient. The last fifty years have seen the development of the 'just-in-time' economy, where highly efficient supply lines keep products moving at lightning speed with minimal variances. But the problem with efficiency is that it is dependent on conditions remaining the same, which given enough time, the world rarely does; efficient machines are almost by definition unable to accommodate a changing market. Right now, all of our efficiency engines have ground to a halt, and rather than focusing on getting them up and running, we must instead work on building new, more dynamic business models that can move quickly when conditions change. We need to keep our businesses humming as best we can, even in these uncertain times when international shipping, air travel, and manufacture are all suddenly in limbo."
Identify Your International Vulnerabilities
"I don't want to say that globalization is over, but I do think we're going to see it reinvented. Long supply chains have gone from being an advantage to a crippling weakness, as we're witnessing firsthand in this crisis. Urgently needed ventilators require supplies from a dozen countries including China at a time when those supplies have never been harder to obtain. Retooling your business for a post-pandemic world will mean finding domestic vendors for things we don't even currently manufacture here, which creates a remarkable opportunity for the CEO savvy enough to recognize where they can become that vendor. As long as your business is dependent on overseas supply chains, you're going to be vulnerable to the next disruption – and considering that this pandemic may come in waves, that will not be sustainable."
Understand Emerging Job-security Considerations
"Once we get through this – and we will get through it – businesses that survive will have to navigate a talent pool that has a new outlook on job security. 3.3 million people applied for unemployment in March, making previous highs look like mere blips by comparison. That number is only going to increase the longer this stretches on as employers scale back to deal with lost business or shutter entirely; retail employees are especially vulnerable to this. Any company that wants to thrive in the pandemic and post-pandemic world needs to recognize the financial trauma this event is going to cause and make job security a major focus; can your employees trust that they will not be put on the street? Because they will flock to the businesses that can offer that, and with modern economic and cultural sensibilities placing a lot of stock in a company's values, those same businesses can expect a glut of new business. 'Worker care' (much like 'workplace culture') or something similar is likely going to be a buzzword in the months and years to come."