Women and beauty: don’t be your own worst enemy

By on Feb 2, 2014 in Maria's Blog | 1 comment

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The Family Center’s annual luncheon theme was Beautiful, Just the Way You Are. As keynote speaker, I’m grateful to my dear friend and colleague Lindsay Henry for her beautiful reflection, “Perspective of a Mirror”, and to Tavi Gevison, editor of the online magazine, RookieThe video mentioned in the talk is Real Beauty Sketches from Dove soap.

To listen to the talk, click on the player, above.


Her eyes, cloudy and half-asleep, take a look at me and lean in for a closer look. I try to appear warm and friendly, but I’ve learned by now it’s pointless. Nothing I reflect will penetrate the thick fog of expectations resting between us. She decides what she’ll see before she even walks in the door. – “Perspective of a Mirror” by Lindsay Henry


The point is not to give girls the answers, not even give them permission to find the answers themselves. But hopefully inspire them to understand that they can give themselves that permission, they can ask their own questions and find their own answers.

Be Stevie Nicks.  That’s all you have to do. Because my favorite thing about her, other than like everything, is that she has always been unapologetically present on stage, and unapologetic about her flaws, and about reconciling all of her contradictory feelings, and she makes you listen to them, and think about them. So, please be Stevie Nicks.  – Tavi Gevison


I guess I was kinda Stevie Nicks at Bread Co. the other day.

At the counter of the coffee shop, I perused the selection of pastries and other indulgences. The woman behind the counter exclaimed, “Your hair is so beautiful! I love the way your gray is coming in!”

Wow! Her words were the opposite of what the voice in my head had been saying, which was, “Color that mop!” Or imagining others thinking, “Why doesn’t she cover that gray?” Truth be told, I’ve tried coloring my hair. I hate the whole process—the smell, the chemicals, the expense, the upkeep. The way I really want it only lasted a week or so. Every day, I’d search for the one strand that exposed itself, betraying my secret to the world.

Here’s the real secret: I love my gray hairs! They’re wild and coarse and pulling away from the pack. They speak of wisdom and beauty. I love them on my head and giggle when they show up on my hairbrush, because they’re strong and resilient. They are my report card from what my dad called “the school of hard knocks.”

So, there you have it: inspiration that came my way through the kind voice of a woman behind the pastry counter. I’m grateful she had her say, over the other voices in my head. I showed up with my flaws, and she let me know I don’t need to apologize.

It’s not only what other people tell us, but what we tell ourselves, and what we tell ourselves about what we think other people are thinking. Or as Facebook reminded me the other day: Make sure your worst enemy is not living between your ears. – Maria Rodgers O’Rourke


1 Comment

  1. Maria

    February 4, 2014

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    Wanted to share this beautiful email, received today, with my readers. I am so humbled and honored.
    “I am still thinking of Saturday’s women’s event & how grateful I am for every aspect.  The committee and I thought the afternoon went exceptionally well.  The theme seemed to resonate for so many women.  Your talk was simply perfect in every way.  A couple women at my table had tears in their eyes, a friend called & left me a message that on the drive home & that evening she was thinking of things she wanted to change for herself & her 3 daughters.  The video, your talk, the bookmarks & the song all fit together seamlessly. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! It was a wonderful afternoon & your presence, energy & skills contributed to inspiring many women.”


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