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The Female Curse by Ashley M Kelsch

Posted on 16 December 2016

Our founder, Ashley M Kelsch recently wrote a blog called the 'Female Curse'; She shares an intimate glimpse into the struggle that starts with us in our youth (she is seeing it now with her teenage daughter) and weaves its way into our lives. And how she isn't going to let it bring her daughter, you or herself down.

Everyday I have the privilege of working with women. I should say working closely; I literally stand in the dressing room sizing and assessing their busts to find the proper fitting bra. In such close proximity, it's no wonder we start dishing our stories, sharing secrets and revealing our insecurities. There is a certain amount of vulnerability that comes with taking your shirt off in front of someone. And with the removal of the shirt, there are some predictable conversations, that, regardless of age or size, come with it. If I could place a tape recorder in the dressing room and replay it, it would basically repeat itself all day in a different voice. We all seem to suffer from this female curse. I heed the voice and feel it's my job to remind women that we all have 'that' and show me someone without cellulite and that the cup size is not an indicator of being over weight or under weight, but the support you need, etc. I joke with women about how they are not alone in these thoughts, the 'things' they see and how they feel. I'm quick to remind them, 'you are not alone'. These things we see, these tiny indiscretions, are our badges of a life lived and for some, marks from creating life..
Regardless, I take pride in reminding women that we all have something, somewhere, that drives us crazy. My hope is, and it always seems to be, that women leave with more acceptance of their bodies than they had when they came in. If truth be told, the narrative doesn't end once we leave the dressing room. I take it home with me when I'm undressing and remind myself of the same things. It's a constant battle to accept our bodies and it takes a lot of mental work. I suffer from the same mindset and have my entire life. I've struggled with body image issues, eating disorders, workout bulimia, you name it.
So it may come as a surprise when I tell you that hearing my 13 year old daughter disparage her body KILLS Me.
Not just a little bit, either. I'm talking major frustration and a lack of patience that I'd never display in the dressing room. 
I'm not sure when it started, but I do know it's becoming increasingly more of an issue. An issue, that when assessed by any other eyes than her own, is not one. I didn't start out in a position of zero tolerance when listening to her concerns. She is at an age of change and it's uncomfortable, and though she wouldn't use this word to describe puberty, it's annoying. For years I've listened and tried to basically brainwash her that this is all normal and what a beautiful young woman she is evolving into. I've tackled the conversations the same way I would in the dressing room, with positive reinforcement and a reminder that this is all temporary. Uncomfortable now, but not permanent. That freckles sprinkled across ones nose is that 'beach babe' look that everyone would die for! 
It's only recently, as in yesterday, that I hit a wall with it. I couldn't hear one more negative comment from her sweet mouth. In the middle of lunch at Whole Foods I stopped her mid sentence when she started addressing her hairline. I wanted to scream; don't you see how lucky you are? how blessed you are genetically? that these little things do not define you? that, and I'm not a fan, if it weren't for the Kardashian's having an ass would be criminal?! But instead, I calmly said, do you realize that 2/3's of what you talk to me about is your body? 
Now, I'm sure that may sound harsh, and it was obviously meant to stop her in her tracks, but the emotion in my voice is what stopped us BOTH. We sat looking at each other for a moment when I said, Faith, I love you and understand where you are coming from, but I don't think you understand that you are constantly talking to me about your body and how unsatisfied you are. Which is mind blowing when you consider the big picture. You are, by all standards, perfect. But aside from those standards, you are healthy, you are not suffering physically, you were not born missing anything... you are so fortunate. Yet, you are consumed with this negative impression of what you look like and it's not real.
and then i said...
you should stop focusing on yourself so much
{insert regretted the way that came out as soon as it left my mouth}
and it dawned on me; I wasn't frustrated with Faith, but instead, this female curse.
 Despite my, what I'd like to call, positive empowering voice, not to mention all the hype in the media today about being 'body positive' it's not enough. It seems as if feeling negative and being unsatisfied with our bodies is engrained in our DNA... passed on from generation to generation.
This curse finds its way into our veins and pumps life into our bodies and minds. It does not discriminate on age, race or background... Once given life, it's almost impossible to kill or ignore. 
These things we say to ourselves, the knit-picking and scab scratching? These are comments we would NEVER say to another woman, let alone accept her saying them about herself... 
ashley, my thighs. have you seen? i look like an ice cream cone.
girl, you are so right. covered in dimples, too. you should work on that. 
NEVER. 
Later that day, I was meditating when I saw Faith and I standing against an endless white stuccoed wall. We were holding hands. I looked at her, looked for the top of the wall and then back down at her face. That was it. 
The image of us against this wall was so vivid that I couldn't shake it the rest of the afternoon.  I found myself mulling over the meaning when I remembered, internet. 
i googled 'vision of a wall // symbolic for'
it's just that.
a wall to get over.
an obstacle. 
I personally know the haunting voice that clings on and doesn't let go. I also know that i've been able to help a few women in my day to day turn their inner voice down. Which in turn helps me turn mine down.
This obstacle in front of me, is only that.
An obstacle.
I'll climb this wall, slide down and start again as many times as it takes to assure Faith, you and myself that we are all beautiful beings, flawed perfectly. That we women as a whole need to spend more time focusing on the things we love and accept about ourselves, however small that list may start.
Focus on making other women feel good about themselves.
Because every woman could use positive reinforcement, regardless of her age or size.

To read more from Ashley, visit her blog, http://www.ashleymkelsch.com/

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