Beauty & The Eye of the Beholder
Last week, a lovely girl in Canada interviewed me about my idea of beauty and the way I look. I’ve spoken before about my struggle with my appearance and this girl got in touch as she’s struggling with her own and wanted to delve deeper into how I built my self esteem and why these concepts of beauty are so important to us. It was a really great conversation that really got me thinking. In true Carrie Bradshaw fashion, ‘I couldn’t help but wonder’ who created these conventional beauty ideals and why do we place so much value in them?
I don’t think I’ve met anyone who doesn’t have some sort of hang up about the way they look. Not only that, it’s kind of expected for us to have insecurities. I mean, how would any products ever sell if they weren’t making us feel bad about ourselves in the first place? Any interview with a female celebrity who is considered beautiful usually asks about what hang ups she has about her appearance, because God forbid, anyone is actually just alright with the way they look.
We’re bombarded with images every day that define for us what beauty is. Those images are the ideal we’re supposed to be aiming for. But who made those decisions? Who gets to decide that for everyone? What it’s resulted in is anyone who falls outside of that (which is the majority of us) ends up hating the fact that their nose is to big, skin not light and bright enough, waist not slim enough [insert your insecurity of choice here].
As women, we’re taught from day one that these things are of prime importance to us. For centuries it has been where our core value lies. And we have just been drinking the Kool-Aid, unquestioningly, up until the hippies came along. Not until relatively recently in historic terms have we, as women, actually bothered to say ‘hang on! I have value outside of my looks. I have worth that lies far deeper than my aesthetics.’
Beauty should not be the most prized element of our being. And what typically defines conventional beauty should not be the be all and end all. I’ve met beautiful women who are utterly vapid, seemingly devoid of any personality because somewhere down the line it was communicated to them that they didn’t need to have one.
This piece I read recently about How To Talk To Little Girls sums it up beautifully. Perhaps if we started to talk to young girls about things other than their aesthetics, they wouldn’t grow up prizing it so much.
We all end up grey and wrinkly. And yes, absolutely, there is beauty in that. Contrary to popular belief, as women we are still beautiful and do still have worth after the age of 30. Beauty in its current conventional form doesn’t last forever. You’ve gotta have something else going for you. Being a good person is more important. Trying to actually contribute something to society ranks a little higher than getting the right false eyelashes (and by the way, your regular eyelashes are just fine).
Building confidence and self esteem doesn’t happen overnight, especially when we’ve been groomed our whole lives to believe certain things about ourselves. It’s a gradual process. It’s OK to want to look nice, as long as we know that ‘nice’ isn’t just one thing. And let’s not get so caught up in how we look that it dominates every aspect of our lives (take it from someone whose self hatred was all-consuming at one point).
Find your passion and pursue it wildly. Your passion will beam out of you and bring love and light to others. And what could be more beautiful than that?