Tag Archives: self-esteem

challenging negative self-perception… in your boudoir!

Photo courtesy of Lori Berkowitz

by guest blogger Lori Berkowitz, of Lori Berkowitz Photography!

At 43 I am more comfortable in my body today than I have ever been. It’s been a 25 year process to get to this place but here I am. Today I can easily quiet the voices that insist something about my body needs to change for me to be truly happy, and those awful comparisons to other women don’t happen quite as often.

In addition to decades of therapy, my work with women as a boudoir photographer has been a tremendous part of healing my relationship with my body. As clients have come in over the years I began to see how distorted our image of ourselves often is. Here is one example of story I hear almost daily.

When Dawn, a vivacious mother and business owner, arrived for a boudoir shoot a few weeks ago it was easy to think at first glance that she was thin, toned and had no body issues. As we started working together and I wanted to take some pictures of her back, she explained that she always hated her back and believed it to be fat. Somehow she had gotten this in her head and now it became her truth, regardless of reality. She couldn’t even remember when it started.

When I took these images and showed them to her in the back of my camera she cried. Dawn could see that her back was beautiful and the healing of her constant negative self talk began.

Photo courtesy of Lori Berkowitz

Clients having an “aha” moment about their bodies when they see their images is part of my passion and joy as an artist. It’s also a daily practice of self love, I heal my own body image issues as I help other women do the same. It’s my small contribution to showing women how beautiful we all are. Everyone has their body issues no matter their size and I want every woman to feel confident in her own skin. Without comparison. I’m thrilled to have found my calling in helping women feel incredible about themselves.

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WARNING: this is my body, not yours!

Stella Boonshoft’s blog, The Body Love Blog, has gotten a lot of well deserved attention over the past few days. If you haven’t heard, she posted a scantily clad photo of herself showing off her body. Stella explained, “I found that after years of struggling with my body image that really there was no way to justify the bullying and the torment I endured as a child and as a teen.” She went on to say that, “we don’t have the authority to make assumptions about other people’s health based on the way they look. And I finally came to a place where I was really happy with the way I looked… I wanted to give a message to the bullies who had tormented me that it didn’t work.”

Stella’s blog post:
WARNING: Picture might be considered obscene because subject is not thin. And we all know that only skinny people can show their stomachs and celebrate themselves. Well I’m not going to stand for that. This is my body. Not yours. MINE. Meaning the choices I make about it, are none of your f****** business. Meaning my size, IS NONE OF YOUR F****** BUSINESS.

If my big belly and fat arms and stretch marks and thick thighs offend you, then that’s okay. I’m not going to hide my body and my being to benefit your delicate sensitivities.

This picture is for the strange man at my nanny’s church who told me my belly was too big when I was five.

This picture is for my horseback riding trainer telling me I was too fat when I was nine.

This picture is for the girl from summer camp who told me I’d be really pretty if I just lost a few pounds

This picture is for all the f****** stupid advertising agents who are selling us cream to get rid of our stretch marks, a perfectly normal thing most people have (I got mine during puberty)

This picture is for the boy at the party who told me I looked like a beached whale.

This picture is for Emily from middle school, who bullied me incessantly, made mocking videos about me, sent me nasty emails, and called me “lard”. She made me feel like I didn’t deserve to exist. Just because I happened to be bigger than her. I was 12. And she continued to bully me via social media into high school.

MOST OF ALL, this picture is for me. For the girl who hated her body so much she took extreme measures to try to change it. Who cried for hours over the fact she would never be thin. Who was teased and tormented and hurt just for being who she was.

I’m so over that.

THIS IS MY BODY, DEAL WITH IT

Stella, you are right! Your body is her own, your body is beautiful and you are stunning! Thank you for your courage!

And for everyone else… let’s be inspired!


wabi-sabi

“Wabi Sabi is a way of life that appreciates and accepts complexity while at the same time values simplicity. It nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. To accept these realities is to accept contentment as the maturation of happiness, and to acknowledge that clarity and grace can be found in genuine unvarnished existence.” ~ Richard R. Powell, Author-Wabi Sabi Simple

Let’s break it down.
Wabi is the quality of simplicity and naturalism.
Sabi means things whose beauty stems from age. As things become more used and weathered, they become more beautiful.
Wabi-sabi celebrates transience and imperfection.

Wabi-sabi does not resist the simple realities that, “nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect.” This aesthetic does not strive for perfection or endlessly attempt to change or manipulate these ideas. So if we adopt these ancient Japanese principles, we must shift our perspectives.

Anxieties about not knowing if something will last forever may subside with the acknowledgment that nothing is permanent.
Energy spent on trying to control and prevent change and growth will be reserved by embracing the reality that nothing is finished.
Desperation to claim perfection may fall away by seeing perfection in imperfection.

Life is filled with the unexpected – both exciting and challenging. We cannot avoid this but what we can do is have some control over how we experience things and how we move through the world. I offer you the challenge of integrating wabi-sabi into your life and into your view of the world. Notice what shifts for you internally and externally.

Now go, show off the patina on your collar and celebrate your imperfections! You are stunning!


go ahead, break some rules!

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Rules and structure are great things. They can help keep anyone balanced and organized and sometimes, they just keep us sane! However, it is when those rules and structure turn into rigidity that things get sticky. Rigidity spirals into all-or-nothing thinking that can keep you locked into an inflexible state or way of being.

“I must…” “I can’t…” “Always…” “Never…”

When things threaten this black/white thinking, it is a slippery slope that moves quickly into anxiety or panic. Suddenly you realize that the structure you’ve employed to keep you feeling balanced, organized and in control has become out of control and problematic.

Consider the thoughts and belief systems that go with these rules. Likely, they are great examples of extreme unrealistic thinking (e.g.: if i eat/do this today then my entire body/day will be ruined).

Begin to notice where this exists in your thinking and in your life. What are the roots of these thoughts and ideas? Why did you create them in the first place? What would it be like to change your thinking? What would the risk be? What are you afraid will happen? What would the reward be? What will you gain by becoming more flexible? Start challenging these faulty cognitions with the objective reality and notice the disparity. Then, take a leap of faith, pick one thing to challenge and buck your system!

You made these rules. It is time to start breaking them!


if mother nature didn’t like curves, she would have made the world flat

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Levi’s Advertisement

Entertainment, fashion, advertising and other industries have an uncanny way of making both men and women feel their bodies are unacceptable. They capitalize upon the insatiable desires to obtain the unobtainable, that is the ideas of perfection that are splashed before our eyes in film, television, magazines, the internet, etc.

Then… every so often a campaign that supports the idea of loving your self and your body comes along and makes some waves. Love the Levis copy “If mother nature didn’t like curves, she would have made the world flat.” And as the Lady Gaga Born This Way lyrics state, that thanks to the DJ’s that be have been deeply etched into our psyche, “There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are… So hold your head up… Just love yourself…”

It’s up to each and every one of us to be discerning about what we allow in and out of our psyches and to choose what we will believe. I say…

L O V E  Y O U R  C U R V E S

We’ve all got ’em and they’re not going anywhere. Some are bigger, some are smaller but they are all yours. Own them! Shake them! Embrace them! They make up the beautiful shape of your unique body. The body that you live in. The body that carries you from place to place. The body that asks only for nourishment, hydration, rest and respect.

L O V E  Y O U R  B O D Y

How do you treat your body? What do you say to your body? Do you have a positive self-loving internal dialogue? Or is it more negative and damaging? Are there harmful mantras that you have whispered to yourself for so long that you don’t even realize it anymore? You are not alone (see here). But there is hope! You can consciously change those damaging whispers into empowering mantras that will lift you up instead of crush you (see here). We must all make our own choices about what we allow in and what we keep out, what we let impact us and what we disregard. Consider the external messages you receive and what you internalize. Take note of the messages to change, alter and tweak yourself to perfection and replace them with the reality that you can accept yourself as you are. There is nothing wrong with you!

I leave you with this. Y O U  A R E  P E R F E C T. Don’t change a thing!
(pass it on)


it’s okay to wobble, just don’t fall down

Flashback to the 1970’s. Magic 8 Ball, Pet Rock, Silly String, Lite-Brite, Etch-A-Sketch, Mastermind and of course, Weebles. “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.” You may even remember the commercial! They’re still around, 40+ years and counting!

Weebles are egg-shaped and bottom weighted so no matter what goes on around them, whether they are pushed, tilted or spun, gravity always pulls them back to an upright position. They are balanced and they can survive any wipeout!

Oftentimes people become emotionally wiped out when people, events or experiences feel disappointing or dissatisfying. When this happens, the fact that things didn’t go well gets turned inward and is used negatively against the self and in a flash, that person begins to feel not good enough or not enough, in general. A downward spiral ensues and so does the subsequent emotional wipeout.

So, like the weebles, we need to have a solid base that will always pull us back to an upright, solid position. I will call this base a secure sense of self. Part of this is the ability to recognize that not everything has to do with us. Sometimes things just don’t go well, sometimes others seem distant because they have things going on in their own lives, etc. And when things do have to do with us, it doesn’t have to demolish our self-esteem and turn everything else in our lives into mush. It is idealistic to suggest that external factors do not or should not impact even the securest sense of self but the question is how much. The key is to wobble but not to fall down (or be wiped out).

Those who know me have heard me talk, ad nauseam, about the importance of a secure sense of self and knowing your own truth no matter what. Who knew that I was talking about striving to be a Weeble?! Today I want to pass this along to you. Begin to think about it, talk about it and consider what it is you know to be true about yourself no matter what? When you think about what you know to be true, where do you feel it in your body? How do you feel when you hold onto these truths? More grounded? More solid? Do you sit straighter? Does your voice become more confident? Take some time, perhaps right now, to connect with your self and your body and see what happens when you explore this essential question for yourself.


whoopsie! i fell victim to photoshop.

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I was speaking with a friend recently about the impact of the media on self-esteem, etc. and I told her the story of my own experience with edited photos. Her response, “you should write about that for your blog!” So, here’s my confession…

In addition to teaching at New York University (who incidentally just last week requested a head-shot), I do many lectures and workshops in and around NYC. Prior to these engagements I am frequently asked for my bio and head-shot. For years I have provided a bio but never got around to getting a head-shot, in addition to feeling it was entirely unnecessary. Finally, for whatever reason, I decided to give in.

I was given oodles of advice about make-up, clothing, colors, hair, background, etc. by many friends within the entertainment industry. This head-shot project was turning into a bit of a monster. Being true to myself, I did my own hair, threw on a pair of jeans, my favorite boots and the minimalist bit of make-up that I wear. The day was one of the windiest days in March 2011 and, being that it was outside, the entire photo shoot was hilarious. Most of the time the focus was on making things look as though they weren’t windblown.

I finally received my photos and without thought, I sent out the edited one (see above) to someone who had requested it, in addition to uploading it to the “about Jodi Rubin” section of this blog. Until it occurred to me, a few weeks later, that I had used the edited photo without any thought. Somehow, I assumed that it was the photo that should be used. Taking another look, I realized that I actually didn’t like the edited photo. It didn’t look like me. I have more wrinkles and grey hair than is shown. My face is also a slightly different shape than the carved away version would have you believe. Lastly, my edited photo completely undermines my opinions about the impact of media on self-esteem. I immediately deleted the photo and uploaded a raw image. I feel more comfortable and I actually like it better. And… if you know me, you may also be of the opinion that it actually looks more like me!

That’s my story. I feel proud to have realized my error in judgment, actually my complete lack of thought, and am happy to show off my imperfections. After all, I earned every wrinkle and grey hair! So I encourage you to embrace every wrinkle and grey hair you’ve got because you’ve earned them, too!


diet du jour

I heard about this diet a couple of weeks ago and was hoping it would be a blip in the diet world. It hasn’t gone away and I feel angry.

The “K-E Diet” is one that uses a feeding tube through which 800 calories/day of protein, fat and water is ingested for a total of 10 days.

The K-E Diet offers promises of losing 20 pounds in 10 days. But what they don’t tell you is that this invasive procedure that runs a tube through the nose and down into the stomach can cause loss of muscle, kidney stones, dehydration, constipation, dizziness, headaches, etc. And what happens after the 10 days? Like any diet, I’d imagine that the weight would be gained back, plus some.

This diet du jour can be added to the litany of extreme diets that float around and reinforce body-hatred, self-dissatisfaction and the impossible quest to feel acceptable based upon the size and shape of your body. Thinness at any cost is an ideal that our society has embraced to the detriment of ourselves and our children. This diet is a literal representation of how we are willing to do anything at any cost (financially, physically and emotionally), in the name of thinness and “perfecting” ourselves.

Many desperately grasp at every quick-fix on the market in order to feel better about who they are as a person. But what about promoting an attitude of internal goodness? The sense of being good enough as you are? A culture of body acceptance and self-acceptance?

I encourage us all to rub our eyes and to see, with clarity, what all of these diet deals and steals are and how they slowly destroy our internal sense of self and of being “good enough.” Be outraged and choose to be one more person who isn’t fooled by this diet mentality and challenge yourself to feel, act and believe that you are good enough exactly as you are!


in honor of fashion week

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In just a few hours, the ribbon will be cut to kick off New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and I can think of no better time to pay homage to the models who make these events possible. For upwards of the past decade I have listened to first-hand accounts of the fashion industry and the experiences of models, at large. The dehumanization and objectification of men and women and the expectation of compliance only chip away at self-esteem and wield extraordinary power to perpetuate personal problems and societal issues, such as eating disorders.

Over the past couple of years, it seems that the industry is gaining momentum towards empowerment.

Two years ago, Coco Rocha penned her concerns about the prevalence of eating disorders within the fashion industry in an impassioned open letter to the New York Times. She is one of the few models who have been outspoken about the ubiquitous issue of eating disorders within the industry.

Last year, Sara Ziff founded The Model Alliance, a not-for-profit organization working to establish fair labor standards for models in the U.S. Specifically, the initiative addresses healthcare, compensation, sexual harassment, working conditions and education, along with encouraging a “safe and healthy work environment that protects models’ mental and physical well being.” The Model Alliance is becoming a place where models can find support, voice their concerns and build a community.

Please visit their website, spread the word, share this post, do whatever you can to keep the conversation going, to support The Model Alliance and all of the men and women it protects! Thank you!


“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

I just saw the film The Help and the line “You is kind. You is smart. You is important” resonated deeply. If you haven’t seen it or read the book, you should. If you have already, I wonder if you were moved as deeply as I was. Here’s the scene: Aibileen Clark is the hired help for a white Mississippi family in the 1960s. After watching the child she’s been caring for (Mae) being consistently mistreated by her mother, Aibileen begins a ritual with Mae. Each morning when Mae awakens, Aibileen sits with her on her lap, tenderly peers into her eyes and says both with and to Mae, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” It is clear, by the film’s end, that May internalized this message and was able to hold onto the strength left behind by Aibileen. She knew that someone believed in her.

Watching this scene play itself out several times during the length of the film brought a warmth to my heart and tears to my eyes. I thought about how much each and every one of us, children and adults, would benefit from hearing this daily and from solidly believing this about ourselves. Words matter. Moments matter.

How many focused moments to you spend with your self, your children, your loved ones, sharing your appreciation of and adoration for them. Don’t take this for granted. Your words and those moments matter!