For one thing, the Italian women in my life taught me to be proud of who I am. It starts with the right attitude. Theirs is relaxed, self-reliant, and confident that they can do what it takes to let their inner beauty shine through to the outside. They also taught me about the magnetism of real femininity—it is evident in how they used their eyes, their hands, and even their subtle hip sway to communicate with charm and grace. Finally, they taught me to believe in a woman’s ability to make a difference in the world, regardless of age.
American women tell me they feel invisible when they reach a certain age. As a result, they resign themselves to retreating into society’s background. Some women lose hope that they can ever look great again, or feel sexy again, so why bother? Others go to the opposite extreme trying to chase down the latest adolescent fashion trends or recreate younger, Whatever-Happened-to-Baby Jane versions of themselves at whatever the cost. And the cost can be skyrocketing—both financially and emotionally. To make matters worse, if we experience ageism in the workplace we begin to think it is certainly too late to accomplish anything of importance if are over 40.
Non e’ vero, say Italian women. Most definitely not true.
What struck me most when conducting my cross-cultural comparison (Italy-US) on body image some years back, were some of the comments made in the margins of what was supposed to be a cut and dried multiple-choice survey. Like the women in my own Italian family, “cut-and-dried” is just not something that Italians find acceptable. The question had been “How much does it matter to you what society thinks of your appearance?” The answer? A collective “Alla faccia della societa’” (We could care less about what society thinks of us)—written outside the margins, will give you an idea of what is to come in the articles to follow. NO ONE is going to impose arbitrary standards of beauty on the women of the bel paese. And no one should impose them on you either.
The formula is as follows:
Attitude + Femininity + Passion to make a difference in the world = the best body image makeover ever, all’italiana (Italian-style).
What are YOUR biggest challenges when it comes to your own appearance? Let’s start a discussion, either in the comment form below, or on one or all of the following: