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Alanna Zabel Headshot

I Am Real

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Mantra: I Am Real
Exercise: Mirror Exercise

There happened to be a long line at the supermarket this morning. So while I waited my turn, I perused some of the magazines displayed along the checkout line. I am usually pretty humored by some of the more outlandish stories displayed in these entertainment journals, but today's story struck a nerve for it's inappropriate disconnect with reality. I thought about the influential effects of this story to worldwide readers, including impressionable young girls, and I felt the need to address it.

Why is the Octomom still a featured topic? Did she donate to the Haiti Relief Fund? Has she spearheaded a program to aid underprivileged, single mothers to manage the stressors of raising multiple children? Does she have a secret tip for making all fourteen of her children feel equally loved and cared for? No, she is on the cover of Star magazine in a red bikini displaying herself like a celebrity of some kind. Forgive me here, as I may be short on tolerance for such frivolous attention to a woman who I would hope would want to display her motherly devotion and super-human skills of providing for the massive needs of her many children - none of which I have seen portrayed.

Underneath her cover photo read the words: no nips, no tuck, no lipo. Well, I'm sorry, but the well-trained eye - correction, I think anyone can see that this is pretty absurd!

• It looks to me as if there are subtle remnants of a photo-shop stamp tool around the upper left corner of her abdomen area - the lower abdomen is where a typical tummy tuck procedure would leave a scar. Now, any woman who has birthed eight children at once might consider getting a tummy tuck - I don't see anything wrong with that.
• It sure looks like a disproportionate loss of fat around her thighs, which is usually the result of liposuction to the inner and outer thigh areas.
• Need I even point out what looks like uneven outlines of breast implants? This does not look like the result of boot camp push-ups...
• We can all spot a nose job by now, can't we? It rarely seems to fit the face...
• And I have yet to see anyone who has had their lips injected or implanted or smashed between two books where it isn't apparent that they have had work done on their lips - and I know some people are allergic to wine...but I'm just not buyin that excuse either...

Now, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with subtle enhancements through plastic surgery, or the desire to slow the outward results of the aging process with the advanced technologies available to us today. There is nothing wrong with the love of beauty and art. Nor is there anything wrong with the desire to improve oneself, to feel more confident, to be the best one can be, etc., but if you do so, please don't pretend that you didn't alter yourself with surgery if you are asked to represent the topic on a major magazine cover story. Please don't imply such mistruth to readers, especially young girls, who may then feel discouraged at their true and organic reflections of beauty - they may believe your false claims and self-criticize their inability to be as "special".

Speaking of such truthful expose, I then picked up a similar cover story (it was an especially slow check-out line.) It was People magazine's cover story detailing Heidi Montag's reported ten procedures of plastic surgery in one sitting. Now what is a bit more appealing about this feature (even though there is a very disturbing tone to the story of a beautiful 23-year-old girl undergoing so much plastic surgery) is her honesty. She straight up tells her readers that she has staples in her head from her brow lift and that she had dealt with deep insecurities her entire life. Her plastic surgeon also reports that most celebrities have similar procedures, but they just don't talk about it. Well, thank you - at least we're starting to get real here! Thanks to such honesty, I can read this article and conclude that this girl has serious issues, and that her choices are not something that I want to aspire towards. Her honesty gives me, the reader, the right to accurately assess the illusion as unattractive.

From both of these articles, it is becoming more obvious that a pleasing physical appearance can easily be purchased - and I don't know about you, but this cloned, plastic look of attempted "perfection" is getting to be all the more unappealing than appealing. Truly the most appealing and beautiful women that I have ever seen are those who simply live their lives passionately. They can be flat chested with large Roman noses and exude more beauty than the now unrecognizable Sharon Stone. These passionate women are typically fit, happily forging deep smile lines and they flat out exude health and well-being. They will typically attract loving mates and a loving, fulfilled life, regardless of the shape of their nose, lips or breasts. My previous example of the store-bought beauty may look "perfect", but inside, these individuals more times than not feel unworthy, insecure, and inadequate. These sad, inner truths will therefore attract critical, often narcissistic partners and a superficial life that mirrors these deeper beliefs, regardless of the surface illusion.

There is no doubt that our worldwide obsession with celebrity lifestyles and the standard photo-shopping techniques used on magazine advertisements exasperate this epidemic of image disorders; as well as poor parenting and the large population of men with girlfriend image disorders.

Please watch please the Dove Evolution video for a realistic picture of how our billboard images are created.

I believe that if we educate young girls correctly, as well as provide them with communities that nurture true self-discovery, health and wellness, I bet that we will see a generation of well-adjusted, truly happy, organic women. It would sure break my heart to see another beautiful young woman destroy her natural beauty by physically altering herself as dramatically as Heidi Montag has done.

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Today's AZIAM Yoga exercise is The Mirror Exercise.

For most people this is best done in the morning, when you are washing and grooming yourselves. I believe that the mood in which we start the day is the mood we carry through to the rest of the day, so let's start the day by practicing self-love, self-respect and self-confidence. By so doing, you will also positively influence other people with whom you come into contact with throughout the day.

Look in the mirror and make eye contact with yourself. Greet yourself, just as if you were greeting a friend whom you had not seen for a while. Greet yourself affectionately and with confidence in a voice that you use for your loved ones.

Feel free to get creative, but here is an example:
"Good morning Alanna! I am so happy to see you! You're looking beautiful this morning. You sure are aging gracefully".

Continue holding eye contact with yourself. Continue staring at your own reflection in the mirror. Repeat the mantra, "I Am Real". Look beyond the hair, the nose, the smile lines, the shape of the nose, etc. (and please see the beauty and memories in all of those mentioned and more). Appreciate the soul in your eyes. This soul has been a steady presence within your growing body for your entire life. Acknowledge the wonderful traits that you have as a person and remind yourself of your life experiences, goals and dreams. "I Am Real".

This is an extremely powerful exercise, as it strengthens one of the deepest connection that you have to your self. Everyone craves to be loved and admired, and we all know that people admire others who love and respect themselves.

Every time that you pass a mirror today, or catch your reflection in your side-view mirror, or see any semblance of your reflection today, I want you to stop and spend a few minutes with yourself (unless you are driving of course - focus on driving!). Practice in the same way as described above. First and foremost, develop a relationship with yourself. This way, no one else can ever poorly affect how you feel about yourself.

Again, as I have mentioned, plastic surgery can be beautiful and very real, when it is done modestly and consciously. It should be approached from a space of self-love - it should never be performed from any self-hate...and remember less is oftentimes more.

"It's not what you got. It's what you do with what you got." ~ Sophia Loren

Be Real...no matter what it is that you do...

Alanna