Beautiful You: An Interview with Rosie Molinary

October 26, 2010

Happy Tuesday Marzipanlings, I have something REALLY exciting for you today. Rosie Molinary, author of the brand spankin’ new and FABULOUS body positive book Beautiful You : A Daily Guide to Radical Self Acceptance has graciously taken the time to answer all of the questions that I sent her way. I am extremely proud and excited to welcome her to Medicinal Marzipan.

What inspired you to write this book?

After I wrote Hijas Americanas, which was about the coming of age experiences of Latinas, I was struck by how the conversation in the book about body image and beauty perception as well as the messages shared about those issues- that we are all enough, that our uniqueness is beautiful- were universally embraced by women. Women are really hungering for affirmation of and permission to embrace what they inherently know to be true. They also wanted guidance for how to let that truth shine out in them. I have always been particularly interested in journaling and in creating and taking actionable steps towards a larger goal and so the idea of putting together an action plan and empowerment guide for women where they could put together the pieces to their larger goal of loving and accepting themselves really resonated with me.

How has your own body image journey been informed by the conscious choice to love your body instead of falling into the trap of low self esteem and diminished body image?

The fortunate thing for me is that I fell in love with other things before I ever got a strong sense that something might be considered ‘ wrong’ about my body. I feel in love with reading and writing at a really young age. Later, I fell in love with being in community: volunteering, teaching, and organizing/ planning events, programs, etc. And as it turns out, those were the gifts that I had to give to the world. And finding what we have to offer is really the point. So when it dawned on me that how I looked was neither the norm nor appreciated, I didn’ t have a lot of time to be consumed by it because I had so much else that I was already consumed by and those things really informed my sense of worth. To be honest, poor body-image isn’ t just rooted in feeling badly about one’s appearance. It comes from within, if you aren’ t happy from within, it’ s hard to be happy with your exterior. For me, my body image journey was really informed by the conscious choice to find meaning in and, thus, love my life. Loving my life means loving all of me. It doesn’ t mean that my life is perfect, it’ s not. It means that I understand that I am taking a journey and not just trying to rush to a destination. Everyday is a work in progress and that’ s the very point.

How did you choose the format of a 365 day guide instead of a more traditional nonfiction format?

There are great body image books out there. I use many of them in the university course I teach on body image. In this book, what I wanted to do was to take so much of the theory we know to be true about how to fall in love with yourself, generate self-acceptance, and offer yourself care and give women actionable steps that get them there.

Each step is doable in a day, isn’ t too overwhelming, and really motivates the reader to build on her process. The assignments really vary from journaling type of assignments where you look at beliefs you have about yourself, joys you have experienced or challenges to actionable steps like working on maintaining eye contact with others, watching what you say or think about yourself, or writing a loved one a letter to let them know how you feel. The steps are each doable in a day but I am hopeful that people will feel such satisfaction from some of them- like maintaining eye contact- that they will incorporate them into their everyday behaviors, further boosting their confidence and sense of self-acceptance.

Too often, we believe we will finally be content when our body changes in some way. Actually, we’ ll be content only when our mind changes, when we give ourselves permission and the tools to be content and that takes some time. Beautiful You provides the tools- vision, passion, purpose, resilience, productivity- for every woman who wants to see beauty in a way that is true to who she is and not in the way the world hands it to her.

In your video, you talk about being “consumed with life” – what are your favorite ways to embrace your body and life as a woman?

My favorite ways to embrace my body are to get a massage, take a steaming hot bath, do yoga, and play outside with my toddler. My favorite ways to embrace life are going on adventures (I usually get myself fully embroiled in an adventure and then realize how much it is really testing me physically or emotionally, have to power through, and then realize that I love it!), being engaged in community (working with young people- Hijas Americanas inspired a non-profit called Circle de Luz-, teaching, etc), enjoying my loved ones, preparing (or enjoying) a fresh, home cooked meal, reading a great book (still true after all these years), ideally with the roar of the ocean in front of me, and, most guiltily, watching NFL football.

What is one concrete benefit that readers can expect to gain from Beautiful You?

Beautiful You’ s greatest gift is that of self-awareness and with self-knowledge comes self-acceptance.

What advice might you give for someone who believes their body image and self image to be beyond repair?

Nothing is ever beyond repair. A few years ago, it occurred to me that life keeps handing you the lesson you need to learn until you learn it. What I mean by that is that there are moments sent to us for our own betterment and education. We can choose to learn those lessons the first time we are sent them, but we often don’ t. The next time the lesson comes around, the volume on it is turned up a little to make us less comfortable with not learning it. Still, we might not learn it. Then life turns the volume up further, to an eventual crescendo, until we learn the lesson.

For the person who believes their body image and self image is beyond repair, it’ s not. What is really going on is that you’ ve missed the lessons that would take you out of that darkness. First and foremost, you might need to try therapy. Therapy, I promise, is about the finest investment you can make in yourself. But finding the right therapist is like finding the right partner. The first therapist you see is not necessarily the right therapist for you. Persevere if therapy really needs to be part of your tool kit.

Beyond therapy, intentionally engaging in your life is the greatest threat to negative body image and self image. Make the decision that you will never allow yourself to feel that way about yourself again and then make choices that move you forward. And, remember, it’ s a journey, not an endpoint.

What’s the point? Why should we, as a culture, be working to love ourselves just as we are?

We can choose to create a society that encourages women to be healthier and more whole, a society that unites us in our commonalities while acknowledging the depth of the individual. The more we challenge the limits we place on each other, the more open the world will be to all of us. As long as one woman- one person, in fact- is crippled by feelings of inadequacy then the world that we have created is inadequate. Supporting one another and freeing one another from the limiting messages that we internalize can be revolutionary- because it would certainly revolutionize how we each individually feel, sure, but also because it would revolutionize what we are able to accomplish for the world.

How can mothers, or women who someday hope to become mothers, work to instill positive body image in their children?

Great question! According to a recent study out of Nova Scotia, a child’ s level of happiness is directly related to the way she perceives her body. We all start out in life joyful and believing in possibility- our own and the world’s. Then life experiences that discourage begin to pile up. Despite the challenges we face, we can remain positive and hopeful, and our parents play a vital role in insuring that happens.

Here are five tips from the book that I think are especially helpful to incorporate into parenting:

  • 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.
  • Begin celebratory rituals. Paint a You are Special plate at a local paint your own pottery studio or designate a “ Caught You” box with notecards in your home. The plate can be brought out on occasions worth celebrating any family member to remind that individual of their contributions or talents and to remind everyone that it is important to take note of one another. The Caught You box can be used as a way for a family member to record something special he has seen someone else in the family do. Once a week, open the Caught You box when all the family is gathered and share the celebrations with one another.
  • 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 in her journey to self.
  • Help a child find a passion. 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.

I want to thank Rosie so very very much for answering all of my questions – she is a real body image warrior, and true inspiration to me and my writing here at MM. I feel completely honored that she took the time out of her busy schedule to grace us with her presence.

Additionally – Rosie and her publicist at Seal Press have been so very sweet as to hook me up with a copy of this book to check out AS WELL as one to give away to one very lucky Marzipanling!! I was extremely excited as I had been anxiously awaiting for this book to be released, and I am so excited for the opportunity to give one away to one of YOU!

No tricks or fancy internet skills – just tell me what you love best about you body by midnight Thursday EST and the winner will be chosen randomly.