Sunday, March 05, 2006

Beauty and Self-Image

from Guest Blogger, Carla Golden.

I worked as a Playboy Bunny when I was in my 20's and have recently written a book about my life. At the time I applied for the position, my husband had asked for a divorce, my self-esteem was as low as the temperature in Fargo, North Dakota, and I had diminutive breasts that hardly looked like they qualified for a bra, let alone this type of a job. But with only $36 to my name, having moved from Indiana to Miami, I shored up my courage and applied for the job. To my utter amazement, I got hired.

When I was in my 20's I was incredibly insecure. I thought that I had to look a certain way to be pretty. My mother had always focused on my looks, giving me Toni home permanents and making sure that I had ribbons in my hair and frilly dresses to wear with matching socks. I had to be physically perfect, I thought, to be pretty.

Today, in our culture, beauty is defined for women by the media and the fashion industry. As the trends change, women make changes in themselves to mold themselves to fit that definition. Marilyn Monroe's voluptuous beauty was what women strove to imitate in the 50's. Twiggy was hot in the 60's with her curve-less body. And today we again seem to be in that same mentality where women feel the need to eat carrots and yogurt and purge to be beautiful. And then when the breasts disappear with all the other fat from the body, breast augmentations are necessary. The likes of Nicole Richey, Mary Kate Oleson, and Jessica Simpson as role models presents an unhealthy image for the little girls and teenagers in our country.

Barbie dolls were the representation of beauty when I was growing up. But no woman had a figure that compared with the one that Mattel created for its plastic icon of femininity. The boobs were large, the waist tiny and the hips ultra-slender and almost boyish. And the legs went on forever. Not long ago, I saw a young woman on television who had spent thousands of dollars to try to look like Barbie. ??? What is wrong with this picture?

Parents need to help their little girls see that their true beauty comes from within them--that it has to do with their compassion for others and concern for the world as a whole and not just whether their hair is blonde enough or their breasts large enough. A mother who looks at her child and says, "You're beautiful, just the way you are. And you are smart and a caring person and that's what I appreciate most about you."

Let's do what we can to encourage a new generation of adults who are less self-absorbed and narcissistic and who genuinely care about the world we live in.

Reprinted with permission from Carla's blog.

Rev. Carla Golden has just finished her memoir, No Dumb Bunny: One Woman's Journey of Self-Discovery. Check out Carla's web site and blog at

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