Q: Teresa, congratulations on the launch of your wonderful new book Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, Not Conformed to the Culture. For our readers who are not familiar with your work and your story, would you please briefly introduce yourself?
Thanks Lisa. My most important role I believe is as a supporter wife to my amazing husband Dominick. We just celebrated, thanks be to God, 28 years of marriage. My husband is the reason I came back to the Church and he is definitely as that old Bette Midler tune proclaims “the wind beneath my wings.”
I also serve as a nationally syndicated Catholic Talk Show host through Ave Maria Radio and EWTN as well as a motivation speaker, newspaper columnist, and media consultant. My main area of interest is media awareness and activism. I spent 20 years in the secular media as a TV and radio news woman and have a unique perspective on media issues and how strongly society is influenced by the culture. I am trying to use that experience to help Catholics and others deal with the messages that bombard them 24/7.
Q: Extreme Makeover is so greatly needed in this time, when Women’s issues, media madness, and societal pressures seem to be sending us so many mixed messages. What prompted you to write this book at this time in your life and your career?
It was a combination of things I was seeing and feeling. I experienced my own extreme makeover or cultural de-tox as I explain in the book. I was greatly impacted by the media growing up in the 70’s and then having worked in the media for so long, I also found myself getting caught up in the messages of radical feminism, which did a lot of damage to me personally. When I was writing my first book NOISE, I noticed in my researching the topic of media influence that women were more objectified than ever before and that girls were being over-sexualized at young and younger ages. I also was keenly aware of how the Church teachings on women and a woman’s dignity were so freeing and provide the answers to many of the questions and challenges we face in life. So I wanted to put all of this in one book so that women, men, and families would have a solid resources with plenty of statistics but also plenty of solutions to the cultural battles we’re facing right now.
Q: You candidly share in Extreme Makeover about some of the personal and spiritual struggles you’ve faced in your life. In sharing these stories, what do you hope that readers will take away from what you’ve learned personally about your faith, your marriage, and your career?
I want readers to realize that it is never too late to return to Christ and the Church. God allows U Turns. That’s my story and the story of so many people I know. For those blessed enough to never have strayed from God or the Church I hope this will be an affirmation for them and encourage them to continue to be good examples. My sincere hope is that many will give the Church teachings a closer look and start connecting the dots. If we take time and take a good look around we can see that the Church is proven right over and over again. All we have to do is examine the fall out from contraception and abortion on demand, sexual promiscuity, pornography etc. When we devalue the dignity of the human person everything falls apart.
Q: In the book, you offer guidelines for individuals and for families in coping with the pervasive media that surrounds us. Why is it critical for women that we control the impact of media in our lives?
Because the media are telling us on the one hand we have to look and act like a Victoria’s Secret model and that we’re not all that and a bag of chips unless we dress or act a certain way and have a particular dress or bust size. On the other hand we’re also told that it is all about our own personal goals and agendas. The heck with children and marriage. Being a Mom and a wife are fine as long as these roles don’t diminish our professional status. I bought into this lie big time and it not only almost cost me my marriage but more importantly my soul.
In terms of body image, eating disorders continue to rise among women and I was also struck by research showing that women believe the best way to maintain their job status and/or get ahead is by making themselves look younger. So have we really come a long way baby as that Old Virginia Slims commercial used to say?
Q: You’ve devoted a great section of the book to pro-life causes and telling the truth about the abortion crisis. What can the average woman in the pew do to be a champion for life?
I think we really have to learn as much as possible about pro life issues and not expect to be spoon-fed from the pulpit. While I agree that the issue needs to definitely be addressed more in our parishes, ultimately we are all going to have to answer to God for what we did to make a difference in the life issues. Even though I am on Catholic radio I still hear from so many people who have no idea that women are not given accurate information about abortion and the medical side effects when they check in to an abortion facility. Most Catholics as well as the general population don’t realize that some 64% of women say they were pressured into an abortion and that “choice” had nothing to do with it. I also think we need to challenge ourselves and make sure we are in line with Church teachings on these issues. But education is key and we also shouldn’t be taking our cues on these issues from the secular press alone . She should be checking and double checking with good Catholic resources -resources that I provide in the book.
Q: You wisely point to the healing nature of the sacrament of reconciliation. How would you encourage women who have been away from Confession and how is regular reception of the sacrament important for Daughters of God?
Well again some people might think that most Catholics know how to have a good Confession. But I know many who have not received the Sacrament in years. Some are simply embarrassed because they haven’t gone in a long time. Others don’t remember the steps so I provide a basic outline and encourage women to think of this Sacrament as their own spiritual spa or makeover.
Q: I know that readers of the book will want to have a more connection with you Teresa! How can our readers listen to your radio programming and be in touch with you personally?
Thanks for asking Lisa. The best place to find all the information about my show, my books, and ministry is at my web site at www.teresatomeo.com The site has direct links to both Ave Maria Radio and EWTN and also general information about my work.
Q: Congratulations again on the launch of Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, Not Conformed to the Culture. Thank you on behalf of all women for the life-changing work you are doing on our behalf. Are there any additional thoughts or comments you would like to share?
I hope that this book gets into as many hands as possible and that more women and men realize the healing powers of Christ and the beauty of the Church teachings especially those that pertain to women, marriage, and the life issues. It’s all about Jesus and this incredible Church He left us and that is my desire; that more come to know Christ or come back into a relationship with Him and find themselves a beautiful home as I did in the Catholic faith.