Saturday, May 11, 2013

From Hot to Haute

From a very young age many of us women especially growing up under the Aussie sun are led to believe that parading our beautiful sexy bodies is the norm.  That the more we show the sexier and more attractive we are and that being 'hot' is what we all aspire to.
As we get older we hopefully realize that there are some parts of us that need to be covered.  Not out of shame for our less than perfect bodies but out of protection of the sacredness of the bodies that we have come to take for granted.  At every turn we see women showing everything that they've got and believing that somehow this is what is desired and wanted in order to find the love, affection, attention and sexual attraction from the opposite sex.  We all want to be desired but have we let ourselves get carried away by believing that all we have to offer is what we are on the outside.  It is no wonder that women these days are riddled with insecurities, eating disorders and a competitiveness which keeps them spending their hard earned money on the next purchase that will hopefully make them feel better in the skin they're in.
Having lived on Bondi Beach and on the beaches of the sunny Gold Coast had it's advantages but seeing women parading around in the shortest skirts, the lowest cut dresses and walking through Cavill Mall in as much as a bikini bottom and a tank top has made me redefine what is sexy and what is truly the way to feeling self respect, self love and knowing that not only are you attractive for how you dress but valued for the qualities which reside within. 
Over the past few years I have met a new generation of women who want to look sexy but also obey the religious Jewish Orthodox dictates with which they live their life. These women are in no way repressed or do they feel unattractive because the law of modesty is to cover up certain parts of the body.  I have found that these young women are more centered, more grounded and know that they have something of value that goes beyond a short skirt.

In this orthodox community to which I have become accustomed to and a part of women conform to the laws of modesty but look stylish, retaining a “mystique” that “leaves something to the imagination.” One of the laws of modesty asks women to refrain from wearing pants or jeans, for me personally this has been a personal challenge to give up. Some may wonder why live with such laws and restrictions but what I have found on my journey to becoming an observant orthodox woman is that each perceived 'restriction' is really a process of liberation in that it brings one's soul closer to that of God and brings about an inner peace of knowing who you are as a soul and not who you have to be to please someone else or get attention for wearing the shortest and skimpiest clothes.

I recently read about two talented and stylish sisters, who grew up in Sydney, Australia, and are daughters of a Chabad Rabbi. These two sisters run the Frock Swap Shop and help women to look good and to be modest adhering to the orthodox laws of modesty. Chaya Chanin, 26 has always had a passion for finding ways of blending fashion with the laws of modesty. She would take a short dress or a sleeveless or low-cut top and turn it into something modest “while still being fashionable. Her sister, Simi Polonsky, 25, lives in Cleveland and flies to New York every four to six weeks for Frock Swap sales. She said that she has to dress slightly more conservatively in Ohio than in New York. She also said that there are some items the Frock Swap never accepts, such as miniskirts or pants. “We want to help people look good and be modest,” she said.

According to Jewish tradition, Sara Labkowski, the director of a Crown Heights program for young women believes that helping girls dress well is an admirable pursuit. "When we feel well dress, we can do much more, says Sara. "We can be better mothers and wives.

And one of the girls' childhood friend from Australia who visits Frock Swap Sales when in town, is a recent convert to modest dressing.  After acting "like everybody that lived by the beach," she realized she was attracting what she called the wrong type of attention from men. She changed to wearing modest clothes and feels good about the choice.

Some may wonder how someone can feel good about themselves when they are totally covered "modestly" from head to toe and where all their 'assets' are not on show for men to see. According to Liat, a home grown Aussie beach babe, "When I feel like I put an outfit together that looks great and it's working within the boundaries, I am more proud of myself".

From the countless of women that I have met on my journey to becoming more modest myself I have realized that the choice to become modest is a way that we as women honor ourselves and feel proud of who we are deep inside and that are virtues and qualities and not our overly sexualized selves will attract the right people, circumstances and events to us. That if we trust in who we are and in the spirit who made us and guides us daily we can attract the right kind of attention and the right kind of life that we can be proud of. You can look beautiful, stylist and is some inspiration.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Happily Ever After.....

As women we grow up imagining our happily ever after.  The one which looks like an ad from a Tiffany & Co brochure.  For some it surely happens that way on the outside at least and may last for many years after until the inner voice within begins to realize that the happily ever after they were seeking cannot be found in another ring, Gucci Bag or latest coveted designer brand.
This past weekend I came to understand what the true meaning of this phrase that we use for a state that we will experience when we find our man, get everything we think we want and only then dependent on every external factor that we believe will make us truly happy we will finally feel like we are where we want to be....happily ever after.
Unfortunately the reality for many is that after having acquired many of these things, deep down their unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life and themselves continues.  People often say "Money doesn't make you happy" usually said by those who have it.  Then there are others who say "I'd rather be poor and happy" like that is the only other option available to them and they keep themselves poor and believing that they are happy when they are struggling through life. We live in a world where somehow we have come to believe that it must be one or the other and that our happiness and joy lie in the acquisition of things or money or getting rid of them all to find peace.
So much importance is placed on body consciousness  believing that this is "I", this is who "I" am.  Body Consciousness, separation, seeing the other as different and separate keeps all of us afraid and focused on how we are better, special and different - a trick of the ego to keep us living in fear and separate to others.  In this world of Fashion that I love so much sometimes can make us more intolerant and often afraid that we are not enough, don't have enough and must be more to fit in and be loved by someone somewhere just by wearing the right brands and if we get the fit right then we've made it in this game of life.
I realized this weekend that happily ever after is a place within your heart and deep within your soul. It means finding your own center and despite what happens you are able to keep your joy and go about life peacefully and gracefully knowing that you are connected to the creator, spirit and are always taken care of no matter what life looks like on the outside.
The Bride all dressed in White is coming to her own wedding and uniting with the love that she has for her own self, her soul and realizing that she can create her own happily ever after because no matter how much we look for it in a man, a bag or a brand we must take the journey within to truly shine our light.
This weekend I spent away in the Mountains at a Meditation Retreat run by the Brahma Kumaris.  A beautiful spiritual haven for people who come to find the inner peace within by realizing that we are soul and through meditation we can connect every day to our soul consciousness and not live in our body consciousness.  We can connect to the supreme soul, God, Spirit whatever it may be to you.  I found out that our happiness comes from a deep place within and if you rely on circumstances of your life to make you ok and happy, what will happen when life's circumstances are not so pleasing.  Relying on your external world, other people and circumstances to be perfect is not realistic, things happen as we know and most of us have no way to deal with them or we do but are so affected by them that life becomes one struggle after another, one drama after another.
I am glad to say that I am now living my Happily ever after......all dressed in white has taken on a new meaning for me and whether it's a different shade of white from Korrs, Gap, Just Jeans or Calvin Klein that once we find our real source of happiness that we can wear any brand because what we shine and give out to the world is WHO we are first and then the brands we wear look all that much better.
Om Shanti (I am Peace)
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