Women have a complicated relationship with beauty.
Stylized, airbrushed and impossibly thin models stare at us from the glossy covers of magazines. It’s no secret that such an image cannot be attained without the aid of technology and eating disorders (unless you happen to be naturally reed-thin, as some are). Yet try to achieve this look, we do. It makes no sense. Do we genuinely want to look half-starved, sleep-deprived and be in wont of curves simply because some Madison Avenue-type decided that’s what beauty means?
We stop trying to achieve. We reject the notion of beauty. We wear ill-fitting clothes, neglect proper skincare and throw any sense of style or self out the window. (Or perhaps we were never taught to have style or a sense of self in the first place). We “rebel.” We secretly think of ourselves as being more “righteous” and “spiritually attuned” than our poor sisters who feel the need to pluck and moisturize.
Back and forth it goes. I have yet to meet one woman who does not, in some fashion, care about beauty. This longing to be the belle of the ball might be stuffed into the darkest recesses of the soul, but it is there, nonetheless. Whether her lashes are bare and sparse or amped up with the Shu Uemera eyelash curler and Yves Saint Laurent mascara, she looks through eyes that search for beauty, in her world and in herself. Why not? God made this world and everything in it – tulips and puppies, the color red and sunshine. He is into the beauty business.
But ladies, we need to jump off the merry-go-round that takes us to beauty obsession to beauty rejection and back again. The foundation of this ride is built on the lie that we are not lovely.
We so are.
What is more lovely than the shoulder that bears the tears of a loved one? What is more noble than hands that fold laundry or grade essays? What is stronger than the back that bends over the garden patch? What is more brilliant than the mind that can glide from company expense reports to planning a dinner party? What is more beautiful than laugh lines worn by the movie you’ve seen so many times, stretch marks from the year you grew three inches, the white hairs brought with age?
Freedom from our constant self-deprecation isn’t found in buying everything at the Estee Lauder counter, nor is it found in wearing old jeans and dirty tennis-shoes everywhere. Freedom is found in knowing that we are beautiful already, and finding the things that enhance it. This enhancement comes in many forms – a swipe of blush on pale cheeks in the morning, a good book that feeds the mind, a great-fitting pair of trousers, brightly colored shoes that make you stand taller, an hour of quiet, a great cup of tea.
Beauty and freedom are found in being you. Don’t hide the wonder of yourself with layers of make-up and the latest expensive trends that you don’t really like. Don’t hide the amazing woman you are behind holey shirts and hair in desperate need of a style. You are a woman; you have a unique gift to bring to the world. Celebrate that by taking care of and presenting yourself as only you can.