Woman, You are a Goddess!

woman-you-are-goddessBy April Dawn Ricchuito, D.D. & MSW

When I was a little girl, I loved school. I loved learning and reading and was fond of history, art, & humanities. It was only natural that I loved mythology- a beautiful blend of history, art, and storytelling. I knew all of the gods and goddesses by name and I knew their stories inside and out. They were friends that lived in the magical lands between the pages of books and I visited them often.

As I grew older and subsequently more serious, I had less time for fantasy and make believe. More time was devoted to scholarly studies and secular pursuits like finding a job once I finished grad school. Then the focus became working a 9 to 5 to pay the bills so I could keep going to work. My friends- the gods & goddesses- and I grew apart. But like any good friendship, when I found them again, time was of no consequence.

In our society, we have a neurotic need to categorize and label everything. We also have a tendency to think of everything as “separate” or think of ourselves as unique and “different”. The stories of the gods and goddesses are then dismissed as fantasy and make believe. We may find ourselves hard pressed to find any value in silly stories about make-believe people from our childhood- but that doesn’t mean the value isn’t there. It just means that we might not immediately recognize or understand the intrinsic value of make-believe.

We also tend to label anything before our highly technological time as “primitive”; certainly we associate the word “ancient” with being primitive. When we hear the stories of ancient civilizations, who no longer exist today, it’s all too tempting to dismiss them, thinking there’s absolutely nothing we can learn from an ancient culture with primitive ways- but we are far from accurate in this assessment. Although the times and technology have changed, the human psyche- our souls- have not. We love, we laugh, we cry; the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians did these same things. They were just like us. In fact, we are them.

While we may find their beliefs to be incomprehensible in today’s times, we should realize that the ancient civilizations understood their gods and goddesses to be archetypes- energies to be embodied; traits to be cultivated.

The world of mythology provides us an opportunity to actively explore the human psyche- indeed, some of the dramas would put even our raunchiest modern day reality TV shows to shame. In our masculine culture, the feminine energies are often overlooked and underappreciated. We learn about very few “strong women” in our Western history books. The accomplishments of most strong women come second to their sexual histories- it is the latter which is most often discussed. Marilyn Monroe, Queen Cleopatra, & Mary Magdalen are three great examples- society may not know a lot about all the great things they did, but it is common knowledge “who” they did!

The goddesses are more than just stories. They are chances for us to stand in our sacred feminine energy and embody the divinity that we are. They are not supermodels that bear no resemblance to the “average real woman”; they are role models. They are strong, powerful women who are mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends who live, laugh, love and cry- and just like our flesh & blood girlfriends, we can learn from them. We are them. Woman, you are a goddess!

Am I Pretty?

am-i-prettyIn a disturbing new trend thousands of girls as young as 11 and 12-years old are posting videos on YouTube asking the question, “Am I pretty?” This public call for validation shows a dangerous lack of self-worth and an unhealthy focus on outer beauty at an early age.

Am I pretty? The answer is YES!

As a Celebrity Makeup Artist and Life Coach I have been working with people for years to build their ‘beauty’ from the inside out. Usually though the questions of; “Am I pretty?” “Am I good enough?” or “Am I worthy?” don’t really start to weigh on us until life as taken its toll a little bit more. Seeing such a display of low self-esteem at such a young age though really troubles me so I feel strongly that this is a topic that needs addressing.

Whether it is the images in the media, social networking, or increased peer pressure, people, especially teen girls, are feeling pushed to look and act a certain way. One of the things they don’t understand is that in trying to find acceptance online they are opening themselves up to even more negative influence. The relative anonymity of the internet creates a breeding ground for hostility and hate resulting in wave of hurtful responses to their videos. Not to mention the fact that online predators are constantly lurking, typically preying on girls in this exact age range.”

To remedy this I suggest a variety of solutions.

– Monitor your child’s internet usage! The web is just that, a dangerous place for those that get caught up in it. There are just as many physical and emotional hazards to be found in the virtual world as there is in the real world.

– Talk to your kids about their ‘beauty’. Have your child create a list of their most beautiful qualities; their values, dreams, and maybe even throw in some physical attributes they love as well. By working to build a foundation for what makes them uniquely beautiful you create a source for real and lasting self-worth.

– Model strong self-esteem yourself. Even with all of the other sources of information your kids have access to you are still their biggest influence. By relating to them your self-worth you are instilling that same value in your kids.

Most important is have as open a line of communication with your kids as possible. And when the question “Am I pretty” is ever asked by you or them, the answer is always “Yes!”

After working in the beauty industry as a make up artist and stylist for celebrities, I can tell you- first hand- that the women who sat in my chair did not look nearly the same as they did once they had an army of stylists, lighting experts, photographers, and then computer experts create their on camera look.

With so many girls comparing their looks to those of the models and actresses they see on TV, in the movies, or magazines, it is important that they understand that what they see is not reality. What we do need to see is the beauty inside of us all. While working to help my own daughters develop a positive outlook on their beauty inside and out, I encourage them to focus on all of their unique qualities. They are uniquely beautiful and it is important for them to take pride in their kind nature, compassion for others, their gifts, and talents. These are just of a few of the things that make them truly beautiful.

I am posting this video to show our girls what goes on behind the scenes to make models and on camera personalities achieve the looks that for 99% of us is unobtainable.

Hats off to the Dove campaign for their continued effort to help real women and young girls love who they are for their own unique beauty!

One leg at a time

One of the questions that anyone who works with celebrities hears is, “What’s he or she really like?” As a celebrity make up artist one of the most frequent requests for dirt I got was, “What do they look like without their make up?” I can tell you for the most part everyone I worked with was nice, or at the very least, they were all professionals. On the fact or fiction behind America’s fab faces, they were all beautiful. The reality behind my experiences with celebs was that we were there because we had a job to do.

Whether they were there to make a TV or live appearance or we were on the set of a photo shoot, I gave them room to study their lines or get emotionally settled before going on. They in turn let me do my job, putting on their faces and getting them camera ready. Sorry gang, no tell all here, quite the contrary…

Inevitably, once the vast number of celebs got comfy in my make up chair, they did want to chat but not about a tawdry behind-the-scenes affair with their co-star or how the caviar was at Cannes this year. Nope, most stars wanted to talk about their kids. They wanted to talk about whatever they were involved in outside of work that they were truly passionate about. More than anything though they talked about how hard it was to keep it all together every day while they juggled kids, work, fashion, and passion. The more we talked the more I realized they are just like you and I. For some reason, whether it’s warranted or not, we hold celebrities to a higher standard. We put them up on a pedestal that is both making life more difficult on them to maintain, and on us to attain. The reality is, whether they do it themselves, or their personal assistant does it for them, celebrities put their pants on just like you and I, ‘one leg at a time’!