I do not consider myself beautiful. I also don’t consider myself ugly. My thoughts on beauty formed at an early age, no doubt framed by traditional concepts of beauty as portrayed in the media. Beauty is thin. Beauty is perfect skin. Beauty is smooth thick hair. Beauty is brains, and the list goes on.
I had this flashpoint realization a few weeks ago. I have beauty all wrong. I’m working on a project, heading it actually, and one of the main players happens to be woman who fits the bill of a classic beauty: shapely, in-shape, flawless skin, long flowing hair, perfect body (did I mention that yet?), brains (I won’t identify her profession in case she’s reading this), a litany of artistic hobbies. By all accounts, she has it all. And I CHOSE HER for this project—basically the universe put her in my life to teach me a lesson.
Doing a search for articles will turn up any number of discussion on how we treat women who wear make-up better than those who don’t. Here’s on in the New York Times that tells us to wear some make-up if we want to move up higher on the career ladder: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/13/fashion/makeup-makes-women-appear-more-competent-study.html?_r=0
The message: to have more of what we want in life, then we need to conform to pre-conceived notions of beauty.
I can’t change society. I can’t change others, but I can look at how I contribute to the problem. And it is a problem to hold women to unrealistic standards of beauty.
How do I explain this? Occasionally, I wear make-up, but not always. Sometimes I do my hair fancy, but not every day. Normally, I coordinate my clothing, but not all the time. As I write this, I’m looking at a picture of me and my dad. My hair’s a bit wispy. I’m not wearing make-up. My earrings match my dress. It’s also the most beautiful picture I have. Why? I’m smiling, and next to me is my dad. He’s smiling too. It’s the last picture I ever took with him. And it’s beautiful.
I have to change my standards of beauty and appreciate that true beauty resides within. True beauty comes from a smile untouched by outer circumstances. True beauty makes the soul feel like it can float effortlessly a thousand miles above the sky.
I don’t hide my body in yoga. I used to. But the beauty of Bikram yoga is the heat that makes me let go of my inhibitions. I don’t always like what I see in the mirror, but I have a deep appreciation for my ability to be in that hot room. That’s beauty. The beauty of movement.
I’m still thinking about all this. About beauty. About how my conceptualization of it is changing. I hope everyone wakes up in the morning and they realize their own beauty just as they are. That’s how we can change beauty. That’s how we can better our lives—realize the beauty of being.
There’s true freedom in not molding ourselves to meet others expectations. We really don’t even want to meet our own. That’s the beauty of being. Just being. Not trying to be something else. From that sea of being, happiness can be found and from that unfettered well of happiness all things are possible.
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