I’ve just read a really jaded piece in the daily mail by Julie Burchil saying that most of us will never be pretty and that the song in which Christina Aguillera says we are all beautiful is partly to blame. It’s the perfect thing to put a dampner on an already wet and miserable day.
But I disagree whole heartedly.
You are beautiful.
But beauty is different from pretty, so mixing those words up in her article is what makes it so wrong.
Pretty is not beauty. Yes pretty is mainly about out looks, and is a simpering, rather silly thing. Personally I wouldn’t have wanted to be ‘pretty’, because all the ‘pretty’ women I know have grown up to be high maintenance, irritating women who have had to watch the ‘pretty’ drain away in the mirror day by day.
Beauty is something deeper and more inspirational. It’s something that we feel about a person when we see them, and it isn’t ruled by only their physical looks. Remember this statue of the mother Alison Laper with no arms and legs? I found it beautiful in a tear inspiring kind of way. But it’s certainly not the traditional ‘pretty’.
Julie is quite right, you certainly can’t look particularly beautiful if you are really jaded. Because our emotional state of being shows in our face. I’ve joked in the past about watching your general facial expressions because when the wind blows it might catch you and that’s what you are going to look like forever. But it’s pretty true, because the lines on your face will show whether you laughed or frowned more often. For those who don’t know me well, I’m a huge fan of ‘counting your blessings’, and I’m pretty sure that someone who appreciates their life will look more beautiful than someone who doesn’t.
You don’t have to become a shallow simpering idiot who is a slave to the beauty industry to be beautiful. You don’t have to be slim to be beautiful. The woman who inspired my ‘worrying about wearing a bikini’ post, was definitely over weight, but several times over the course of the holiday I told her how beautiful she looked, because to me she really did. During the day she was just wearing a bikini and shorts/Tshirt. But in the evening she took the time to put on a pretty dress that suited her, added some sparkly clips to her hair and jewelry, and a dash of makeup.
It is not a ‘new’ thing to want to make the most of ourselves, so we can’t blame the beauty industry. It’s a huge part of our human nature for women and men to want to look their best, like the Peacock showing off to get a mate. Trying to be anything other than human is naive and ignoring an important part of who we are.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: so you can be beautiful to some people, just never everyone. Frankly I think that most models are very unattractive. Remember the ‘popular’ girls at school? When I looked back I thought they were gorgeous, but actually many weren’t. So you don’t have to have the perfect face to be beautiful either. It’s about making the most of what you’ve got. Not every hour of the day, but enough to make you feel like you took care of yourself a little and you are willing to not disappear into the grey background of mundane suburban mumness. My son thinks my stomach is beautiful, in all it’s glorious wobbliness.
As always it is about using discernment and balance. You will always be beautiful to someone, so why not show it and acknowledge it. Just don’t be ruled by the need to attain ‘pretty’. ‘Pretty’ is purely a looks thing, and that is something that only a few will have. ‘Beauty’ is a glow, something difficult to describe, which comes from good nutrition, hydration, exercise, balanced emotional health and a bit of taking care of yourself. Gok Wan (one of my huge heroes, who I would love to meet one day, hint hint PR people), has managed to make EVERY single one of the women on his program look beautiful.
Add to that a strong sense of who you are and what your ‘purpose’ in life is, and I know that your beauty will shine very strongly. Just think of people like the Dalai Lama or Mother Theresa, who just had that amazing ‘something’.
Our lives will have both beauty and ugliness in them. Don’t hide the beauty. Don’t hide from the ugly. Face both squarely and see both, because otherwise you are looking at the world with only one of your eyes.