Keys to No Makeup

The most beautiful makeup

of a woman is passion.

But cosmetics are easier to buy.

Yves Saint Laurent

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 by Paola Kudacki for “In Common”

Alicia Keys, 15 time Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter, producer and accomplished actress, a New York Times best selling author, entrepreneur and activist, wrote on lennyletter.com:

We all get to point in our lives (especially girls) where we try to be perfect.

The harsh, judgmental world of entertainment was my biggest test yet. I started, more than ever, to become a chameleon. Never fully being who I was, but constantly changing so all the “they’s” would accept me.

Before I started my new album, I listed all the things I was sick of. And one was how much women are brainwashed into feeling like we have to be skinny, or sexy, or desirable, or perfect. I was tired of the constant judgment of women. The constant stereotyping through every medium that makes us feel like being a normal size is not normal. Or the constant message that being sexy means being naked. All of it so frustrating and so freakin’ impossible.

During this process, I wrote a lot of songs about masks filled with metaphors about hiding. I needed these songs because I was really feeling those insecurities. I was uncovering just how much I censored myself, and it scared me. Who was I anyway? Did I even know how to be brutally honest anymore? Who I wanted to be?

I didn’t know the answers exactly, but I desperately wanted to.

I walked into the first shoot for my new album and this issue was front and center. The photographer Paola Kudacki said, “I have to shoot you right now, like this! The music is raw and real, and these photos have to be, too!”

I was shocked. Instantly, I became nervous and uncomfortable. My face was totally raw from the gym. This was my run-to-the-shoot-so-I-can-get-ready look, not the actual photo shoot look. So I asked, “Now? Like right now? I want to be real, but this might be too real!!!”

And that was it. She started to shoot me. It was a plain white background, me and the photographer intimately elating, me and that baseball hat and scarf and a bunch of invisible magic. I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that i have ever felt.

I felt powerful because my initial intentions realized themselves. My desire to listen to myself, to tear down the walls I built over all those years, to be full of purpose, and to be myself!

Once the photo I took with Paola came out as the artwork for my new song “In Common,” it was that truth that resonated with others who posted #nomakeup selfies in response to this real and raw me. I hope to God it’s a revolution.

‘Cause I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share your personal revolution.

xoxox

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No Makeup by Paola Kudacki

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 With makeup for “Queen of the Field”

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for a billboard ad

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for “If I Ain’t Got You”

All images from Google.

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Eat Your Heart Out

 

 

I never worry about diets.

The only carrots that interest me

are the numbers on a diamond.

Mae West

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To eat, drink, and truly be merry through the holidays, can we please skirt the topic of weight, workouts and diets at festivities? I do my best by walking away or staying mum when this very popular ho-hum subject comes up. What could happen in 2016 if you chuck the weighing scale, keep active in whatever way is fun for you and just listen to your body–eat natural fresh food when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full?

From Courtney Martin’s book Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body:

Sex and food are the two most loaded issues of our time, the Pandora’s box of our culture, universal and forbidden simultaneously. We even use the same language when it comes to both: temptation, pleasure, crave. Just as we are surrounded by advertisements for food that we “shouldn’t” eat, invited to indulge because we deserve it, we are told, in the next thirty-second spot, that we should get back to the gym if we want to work off some guilt and make ourselves worthy of a bikini this summer. Sexual images are all around us, and pornography inaccessible at the touch of a button, but any teenage girl who wants to protect her reputation must exercise absolute restraint, wait for a committed relationship to explore her sexuality, and keep quiet about masturbation.

How can anyone, under these conditions, be expected to know her true desire? How can anyone navigate the dangerous terrain of reputation and expectation on the road toward her authentic sexuality? How can a woman excited about life emerge without hating the body that leads her into temptation?

After publishing The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life, Wendy Shanker traveled the nation doing readings, book signings, and talking to fans. She reflects, “The best lesson I learned touring is that eery woman, no matter how heavy or how skinny, feels fat. When you’re thin, you’re never thin enough.” When I see some hot girl saunter down the street, I used to give her a dirty look, sure that she had a perfect life. Now I know better. I know that she may look different on the outside, but inside she feels the same way I do. Now, instead of a dirty look, I throw a little mini-vibe of compassion her way.”

This is the heart of the matter: A perfect girl can rule just as tyrannically, and a starving daughter can ache just as deeply, inside a thin body. Our dissatisfaction is never, at its deepest, about our bodies. This is why fat women and thin women often experience the world in similar ways. If a thin woman feels inadequate and “thinks fat,” she may endure less hate coming from the outside in than a fat woman but just as much criticism and sadness from the inside out. If a woman of any size is able to stop her negative self-talk and accept herself, she may experience the world with a little peace of mind.

Obsessing over every little thing we put in our mouths takes away our ability to control our own thoughts, our inalienable right to feel good about ourselves regardless of the size of our thighs. It takes away our time, our pleasure, our energy, our vision, our joy. We are not our bodies. Our souls are not our stomachs. Our brains are not our butts.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share how well you’ll feed Santa at last. And have the merriest Ho-Ho-Ho!

xoxox

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xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift of elegant and timeless portraits

with a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

To The Girls

What a wonderful life I’ve had!

I only wish

I’d realized it sooner.

Colette

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On Huffington Post, Nina Bahadur invites you to offer advice for girls as they travel the path to womanhood:

Author Courtney Summers launched the hashtag #ToTheGirls on April 14, the same day that her YA novel All the Rage was released. Her hope is that women will share their best pieces of advice to young women seeking guidance and affirmation.

In a blog post about #ToTheGirls, Summers urged her followers: “Take the opportunity to tell the girls you know — and the ones you don’t — that they are seen, heard and loved. Share advice. Be encouraging. Tell us about or thank the girls in your life who have made a difference in yours.”

Women on Twitter shared their best insight on confidence, romance, success, sex and more.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to add yours to my faves:

@SaraZarr : You don’t have to grow up to be a mom or a wife if you don’t want to. It’s ok to not have kids, not want to babysit, etc.

@HaleShannon  Find and stay near the people who make you feel possible, larger, worthy, interesting, excited, comfortable, confident.

@coracarmack  It’s never too late. To do what you love. To change your mind. To change your life.

@syntactics : “I’m sorry” is for when you’ve hurt someone. It’s not for when you’re asking others for respect or the right to take up space.

@FeministFists  You have the right to take back your consent at any time during a sexual situation. Even if he bought you dinner.

@elloecho  The mistakes you made do not shape who you are. They are NOT who you are. Forgive yourself, love yourself, and let them go.

@SarahDessen It’s okay if you don’t have everything together. Life is a process. Keep learning, keep loving. Keep on.

xoxox

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Give the women you love the most unique gift of elegant and timeless portraits

with a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

xoxox

Photography © Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

The Power of Vulnerability

Kindness to ourselves 

helps us

be kind to others.

Brene Brown

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This Powerful Goddess welcomed her wondrous new decade by exploring the breadth of her enough-ness while honoring the women in her family with their treasured heirloom jewelry. It is magnificent to witness a woman venture out of her comfort zone, daring to go where she has not been before, celebrating the many possibilities of her choosing.

Through this long wintry month of snowy blankets that barely melt, I am grateful to be reminded of the reason for the fallow season and the blessing of dark times. I wish you the best and bravest decade, Powerful Goddess! Thank you for touching my life with the books of Brene Brown and the power of vulnerability.  I shall always think of you each time I remind myself “I AM ENOUGH!”

Vulnerability is beautiful and necessary.

The courage to be imperfect,

to let go of what we think we should be,

the willingness to say I love you first,

 to do something or love someone with no guarantees,

to let ourselves be seen as we are,

to practice gratitude and joy, to say “I am enough.”

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share how you grow strength in your darkness. xoxox

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© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Fools Rule

Assuming women can be altered cheaply, painlessly, & with no risk,  

is that to be what we must want?

Naomi Wolf

Aside from being an occasion to pull someone’s leg, April Fool’s is a good day as any to wonder what leg our beliefs stand (or sit) on.

The sculpture Contro Natura by Salvatore Crita (1828-1912) at the Pitti Palace in Florence makes my Inner Fool grin.  What IS against nature:  A pregnant nun or a woman who swears off her natural biological function?

In the Boboli Gardens, a giant reclining figure covered in blue bandages stares into the distance.  Why do we call it cosmetic or plastic surgery when it involves pain beyond mere cosmetics and human flesh isn’t plastic?

Closer to home in our land of anti-fat, Botero’s sculptures stand proudly curvaceous and unapologetic.  Who determines the “correct” size and shape of all women?   Who wields the power to define beauty and who profits from feeding our insecurities?

A skinny ballerina “sculpture” blows me a kiss, a wink and a smile.  She’s not telling who’s fooling whom.

What does your fool wonder about?  Find the comment link beside the title of this feature.

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

xoxox

A Day Without Buts

You and I are not what we eat.  

We are what we think.

Walter Anderson

Today’s featured articles on Huffington Post for International Women’s Day run the gamut of “How to Unleash the Power of Women,” “Give Women the Right Not to Choose,” to “Let’s Make Today the Last International Women’s Day.”   Strong voices rant over blatant injustices and impossible arbitrary demands that continue to be imposed by culture, religion, work and family.   What about our self-admnistered doses of unkindness that seem so innocuous we actually consider them normal?  “I look pretty good for my age, but I’m 10 lbs overweight.”  “Thank you for the gift, but you didn’t have to!”  “I’m sorry  if I hurt you, but what I’m saying is right, you know.”

How different might our life be if we make the choice each day to put a period (instead of a but) when we say:

I’m sorry.

Thank you.

I love you.

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

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xoxox

The Job of Perfection

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is

giving up on being perfect and

beginning the work of becoming yourself.

Anna Quindlen

No one could put down Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson in my family.   Instead of starting with Chapter 1, my 12 year old went straight for the section on the thing dearest to his heart:  the iPad.  My mom wanted a quick turn to read about the childhood that spurred outstanding success (–and an early demise, Ma!)  I read bits and pieces amidst all this passing around while my husband, who rarely reads anything outside of work, finished the 630 pages in a week!

Steve Jobs’ story is about persisting towards perfection.  My 2012 resolutions lean more towards loving my imperfections:

1. I will see my fabulousness.  A girlfriend in her 40s drove home this lesson when she confided that the sight of her teen daughter’s amazing body (an exact replica of her own two decades ago) makes her wonder “What the heck was I complaining about?”

2.  I will speak to support trust in our own wisdom and the possibility that life is an adventure of learning from our choices, not avoiding mistakes and failures.

3. I will listen for praise and appreciation though critics and know-it-alls tend to have louder voices.

4. I will resist the urge to rip off the little hair left on my husband’s head when he insists on an extended search for the perfect sofa.   Surely being married to someone with high standards can only mean that I am perfect!  😉

Malcolm Gladwell‘s article “The Tweaker” sums up “how effectively Steve put his idiosyncrasies—his petulance, his narcissism, and his rudeness—in the service of perfection” in  the New Yorker.

How are you already perfect with your imperfections?

© Sharon Birke

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Powerful Goddess is a trademark of DoubleSmart LLC

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