Posted by: thebellalife | July 19, 2009

Book Review: The Velveteen Principles for Women

The Velveteen Principles for Women by: Toni Raiten-D’Antonio


Wanted: Beautiful, educated, intelligent woman with fast metabolism.
Ability to nurture, arouse, earn large income, impress everyone, and read bedtime stories is a must. Housekeeping skills a plus.

From the minute I picked up The Velveteen Principles I couldn’t put it down. Each chapter spoke to my spirit, I could relate to living my life for everyone else but me. Feelings of failure as my marriage collapsed, I was now an overwhelmed single parent of four young children. I was living in anger and fear. I felt I was wasting precious time – I was stuck! The words on the pages of this book were speaking to me. I felt inspired, optimistic and ready for a life makeover. Learning to live an authentic life means…being Real….in all our thoughts, behaviors and endeavors. Toni brings each ~Principle~ to life simplistically, providing guidance, ideas and wisdom in facilitating change.

                                                    The Velveteen Principles

                                                       #1: Real is Possible
                                                       #2: Real is a Process
                                                       #3: Real is Emotional
                                                       #4: Real is Empathetic
                                                       #5: Real is Courageous
                                                       #6: Real is Honest
                                                       #7: Real is Generous
                                                       #8: Real is Grateful
                                                       #9: Real Can Be Painful
                                                     #10: Real is Flexible
                                                     #11: Real Love Endures
                                                     #12: Real is Ethical


Women everywhere, of every age, need to pick up this book. Read it and apply the lessons of becoming REAL.

What does it mean to be REAL?

For the Velveteen Rabbit, becoming REAL meant learning to truly be himself and not a version of something he thought he was supposed to be. REAL is different for everyone, because it's based on our individuality. Just as life's meaning is different for everyone, too. We can agree, that in all cases, REALNESS includes feelings of happiness, contentment, work that is engaging, relationships that feel satisfying, and enough love that we don't feel alone in the world. The Velveteen Principles can help you discover and develop your REAL self.

The qualities which make us REAL include: courage, honesty, gratitude, flexibility and honesty.  These qualities help us connect with others and live more engaging, appreciative and satisfying lives. Once you are REAL, and you know everything you say and do matters to others, you'll understand that we each leave a mark on the world that remains long after we're gone.

Author's Bio:
After working in theater and television, Toni Raiten-D'Antonio returned to school to   become a psychotherapist and professor of clinical social work at Empire State College of New York. She has a thriving private practice on Long Island, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. Toni considers becoming Real, and helping others to do the same, her life's work.

Click here to contact Toni by email.

Q & A

What inspired you to write this book?
First I was inspired by Margery Williams's original text – The Velveteen Rabbit – and its affect on me as a young mother. I was, on the surface, happy, but I felt some self-doubt and a sense that something was missing. The Velveteen Rabbit helped me realize I wasn't accepting myself, that I wasn't being Real myself, and having real relationships in the way that Williams describes it. The book gave me a chance to explore her ideas and understanding what she was saying in a deeper way. My principles are drawn from the values expressed in the original Velveteen Rabbit story and they are intended to provide a framework for a more meaningful and rewarding life.

Can you define “Real?”
Real is fully accepting and embracing all of who you are. It means learning to love yourself and others specifically, and not generically. A lot of people think they love someone because they fit a generic definition of an ideal man or woman. I think this is why a lot of people are unhappy with themselves and their relationships.

What do you mean by generic?
Generic describes a bland but flawless version of something. When you are talking about people, we look for someone who fits a certain type. Much of this is defined by the media which depicts people as if they were objects or things. For men the ideal type is tall, plenty of hair, financially successful, nice car. For women it's beautiful, slim, adoring, muscular, and large breasts. The generic ideals have nothing to do with the most precious parts of a person, which are, of course, invisible. The trouble with this is you come to look at yourself and other people as if they are things. And things can be rated, upgraded, replaced and discarded.

That sounds pretty extreme. Does this really happen to people?
I've seen it many times in my work as a psychotherapist. People say they hate themselves because they don't meet society's standards, which tell them they have to look and act a certain way to be accepted. For example, successful talented and intelligent women come to me because they cannot stop obsessing over being a little overweight. Spouses replace their partners because a newer model comes along. But it doesn't make them happy for long because they don't understand that what really makes us happy is a loving relationship based on empathy.

In your book you stress empathy. Why is it so important?
I believe that empathy, for yourself and others, is the foundation for a happy life. Empathy is the ability to value your own emotional experience and the emotional experience of others. It allows you to connect with your inner passions and ideals and to connect with others, too. A lack of empathy, what I call Objectification is the cause of a lot of pain, unhappiness and bad behavior in our world.

What are some of the other themes for your principles?
The Velveteen Principles begins with the argument that it is possible, even in a world that pressures us to be generic, to be a Real individual. The other principles help you to do this. They include developing courage, honesty, generosity, and an ethical approach to life and relationships.

Ethics is a pretty powerful topic. Do you tell readers what is right and what is wrong?
No. The book encourages people to look inside themselves and find their own answers. What's right for me may not be right for you. The difference is that a Real person asks the question – is this an ethical choice? – rather than acting automatically.

Have a fun and relaxing Sunday,



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