It was extraordinary to launch The Butterfly Temple at the Northern Rivers International Women’s Day lunch in Ballina on Friday 6 March.
To speak about True Beauty in front of a captive audience of 300 women – 40 of them school girls – and to realise my long-held dream was deeply moving.
And as if this wasn’t enough, my childhood best friend Amanda Pauley, who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in 40 years had, unbeknownst to me, flown up to Ballina to hear me speak. I had no idea she was in the audience until after the lunch had finished. Our reunion was so sweet….
Now, that’s what I call an act of beauty – I will never forget that day.
Excerpts of my International Women’s Day Keynote speech Intolerable statistics
Today we have 700,000,000 women without adequate food, water, sanitation, health care or education (compared with 100,000,000 men).
That’s the entire population of the USA, Canada, Mexico and Indonesia put together.
67% of illiterate adults in the world are women.
An international survey found that 57% of women surveyed had experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence over their lifetime.
These are intolerable statistics.
True Beauty Matters
It’s appropriate to talk about beauty on International Women’s Day because when we appreciate ourselves just as we are, and the beauty we have inside us, we have freedom. We have power. We have autonomy.
We are in a much better place to offer something of value to our world.
True Beauty is a way of living, having an attitude and approach to life that’s self-accepting and loving.
When a woman has this she is radiant. Her beauty is unmistakable.
A few years ago I was offered a magazine interview with best-selling author Marianne Williamson, who is famous for writing Nelson Mandela’s speech.
Marianne Williamson is told me that she felt that Western women have lost their sense of being like a mother bear who will fiercely protect her cubs.
She spoke of women going soft, of being distracted and not paying attention to what is truly important.
I agree with her – that when women stop hiding in fake tan because of feelings of fear, shame and lack of worth, we will build a far more empowered world.
On International Women’s Day 2015, I’m launching a global campaign for True Beauty – The Butterfly Temple.
The Butterfly Temple is a global campaign with a vision that in 2020 all the 3.85 billion women and girls in the world will see the beauty that lies inside them, just as we are, regardless of our looks, body size or age.
We want to get people into the beauty habit – see themselves as beautiful.
True beauty is often a big ask. It’s a lot easier said than done. And it takes willingness.
When a woman has been abused, assaulted, raped, abandoned, neglected, the last thing she feels is beautiful.
Women I’ve spoken to who have these experiences just want to hide and to be invisible. As a result, many abandon themselves.
My story (thumbnail version)
I was abandoned by my mother aged 4. My father became gravely ill when I was 11. I put myself through upper high school. At 21 I was a single mother with very little prospects. Later in life I had a journey with a family member for 10 years that I wish no one would ever have to think about let alone live through. Today my family is thriving. A few years ago, I forgave my mother. We both found peace.
This changed my life in a way I never expected. It was not easy though.
I know that gentleness, kindness, compassion and forgiveness do really work.
To me, this is at the heart of empowered femininity. These qualities give us strength.
When you are determined, never give up and are willing to dive deep and shine brightly, you can do anything.
You can really make it happen.
I know that no amount of achievement, lipstick and nice shoes hold the sacred transformational space that is so critical to our development so that we mature as loving, bold, caring women who contribute something of value to this planet.
So we become the type of women that Marianne Williamson speaks of.
Beauty Myth and its distortions
The beauty myth in our society causes distortions that result in eating disorders, excessive use of cosmetic surgery, anxiety, depression and more.
The cost of such beauty ideals is very high for women.
This is why connecting to our True Beauty is so important.
Withdraw or change your looks?
Whilst some women withdraw from life because of their perceptions about their looks, others simply change their looks.
With an annual turnover of $1 billion, cosmetic surgery in Australia is big business. It’s 12 times higher in America.
Celebrity look-a-like surgery is a new and growing trend. Women are actually requesting that they look like their ideal woman, who has Angelina Jolie’s lips and cheekbones, Beyoncé’s facial structure, Kim Kardashian’s eyes and jawline and Natalie Portman’s nose.
Not safe to be beautiful
On the other hand, for many young women, it’s not safe to be beautiful, even when you do look like what society deems is desirable.
We hear so many stories about jealousy, taunting and gossiping by other women and girls. This so often results in social exclusion and cyber bullying. It’s a big problem.
Today’s model trends foster an unreal image of women that is androgynous and based on an undeveloped child-like female body shape. This distortion has lead to epidemic of young women dieting and starving themselves.
Eating disorders are serious.
So it’s time now to heed the call to reclaim ourselves, the reality of who we are and what truly matters.
I acknowledge that some deep pieces of our beliefs and psyches sometimes need attention to identify the blocks to experiencing beauty.
There are many wonderful programs and therapists working to support women. It’s not a quick fix.
So what are some simple steps that a woman can take to start to feel truly beautiful, whatever her age, body size or looks?
1. Give. Pay it forward – practice random acts of beauty.
Look for beauty in the world around you. Look for just one thing in someone else that’s beautiful. Tell strangers how beautiful they are.
Get the beauty habit. Tell 2 people every day how beautiful they are. One of these people could be a loved one or stranger, the other is you.
2. Hold. Develop intimacy with yourself – look within, not outside yourself.
Develop an intimacy with yourself and take loving care of yourself. The quickest way to feel beautiful is to take time and feel yourself in your body.
Acknowledge your body as the most sacred place you has ever visited. If you don’t, no one else will.
3. Receive. Be open to what’s already there and cultivate a life of beauty.
Be more receptive to what life offers. Don’t always be the giver. This creates more balance.
Make it a choice to be thankful for the beauty you do have. It’s remarkable how gratitude sparks greater abundance and opportunity.
4. Determine. Trust yourself, find your passion and go for it.
Prioritise your needs, so you have a full tank. Do what it takes to find out what you want in life and go for your dreams.
When you practice small and consistent acts of True Beauty the world starts to shine a little more.
Come and join us at The Butterfly Temple in our global campaign for True Beauty.
Help us get this message out.
Let’s make True Beauty happen.