Projecting an image of self-respect matters

This morning we are going to start a new program. I’ll tell you how it came about. You know how I always say that homes, schools, churches and people in our communities make up our society? Well, how can we reach all those people?

A few years ago Cathy Steger, fifth-grade teacher in middle school, invited me to speak to her students. They were reading this column and then discussing it. What an outstanding group. So then I started thinking about this program to work out a new plan I had. And then it hit me, I could use this column as a means to reach all people! The nice part of it is it can be used by any age group and you have the opportunity to either get involved or disregard the column. We all have freedom of choice!

Okay, so now we’re going to try to influence enough people in our communities to make a difference in the quality of our lives. It will be fun! Last week I wrote about respect. It was longer than usual, but to me that quality in our lives is essential. And there’s so much more. Today we’re going to apply it personally. How do we respect ourselves?

Let’s start with our bodies. Let’s start at the top. Here’s a bit of information I bet you didn’t know. When my husband and I started selling wigs we were told that the manufacturers of human hair wigs couldn’t use American hair because we wash our hair too often (some people every day) and we wash the oil right out of it. This makes the hair too weak to go through the processing procedures. So you decide for yourself. Some people can wash their hair less often than every day. When you think of it, the ladies who get their hair done in a beauty salon only get their hair shampooed once a week. Do you suppose we’ve been brainwashed by manufacturers of shampoos and conditioners? Certainly it’s good business for them. Try out some different washing schedules and decide for yourself.

Now let’s go to your teeth. Are you conscious about keeping your mouth clean? Do you see your dentist regularly? Do you go to bed with a clean mouth? These are your decisions.

Now let’s talk about what comes out of your mouth. This is who we really are. Do you use foul language? If you do, what does the person who hears this think of you? How long will it take you to overcome this first impression? Do you gossip about others? Are you killing their reputations? Some people call this a form of murder. When in doubt about whether or not you should say something, don’t say it! Or if you ask yourself “Should I go there or not?” means that you are unsure. Use this principle and save yourself a lot of trouble. This applies to all age groups.

There’s something we forgot. We forgot to mention your nose. How many times have you heard “Keep your nose clean” in your life? Usually the speaker means “Stay out of trouble.” Well, that’s good advice. The other part is to keep your nose clean by using a hankie or a tissue.

We don’t want to leave this area of the body without reminding you to smile a lot and laugh if the spirit moves you. Laughter is the best medicine. Don’t be afraid of becoming “a pill” in this case!

Don’t forget to keep your hands clean. We don’t want dirty hands spreading germs!

There’s one more area where you can show respect for yourselves and others. That is in the way we dress. Are you proud of the way you look? Will others approve of your dress code? Girls and women, are your necklines too long and your skirts too short? Or are you using moderation? Do you look professional? Look in the mirror and decide. Males, do your trousers fit you or are they sagging far below your waistline? It is your choice how you dress, but ask yourself if the criticism is worth it. On the other hand, good choices should be complimented. If people look nice and appropriate, say so. Those people and their choices are appreciated.

Now I’ve given you a lot to think about. Please discuss this column with friends, parents, grandparents and others. Let me know if I forgot something. Remember, you are in control of your decisions.

Have a good life.

Margaret Valone is a Fredonia resident. Send comments to