For many years I would turn to magazines like Vogue or Cosmopolitan to read and learn about beauty. I'd thumb through the pictures mentally noting the way the girls would stand, flip their hair, the facial expressions and the ofcourse the super thin bodies of 15 year old prepubescent girls. The editorials had (and still do, by the way) column after column on self improvement articles, all to the tune of how to NOT accept your body/hair/skin/whatever part as it is. The articles had titles like "how to have shinier hair", "fuller lips", "how to attract the perfect mate" and or how to look like "-insert famous person-". The beauty industry is a multi billion dollar industry that is built on creating an image of "ideal" that is designed sell products. I had a radar eye for noting patterns and this gave me a huge download for what was perceived as beautiful in our culture.... For a period of time, I bought into it......I didn't know anything else. What i did know was that this was the "ideal" and that the "ideal" had power. Power seemed like a good thing to have rather than not.......
Then one day, after years of trying to fit into this ideal I began to look at beauty in a new way. One day I began to question "why" and "who" was I trying to fit an ideal for? What I had thought was power began to feel very shaky, even powerless. Something inside me wanted MORE. More substance, more connection, deeper pleasure, something REAL.....I began to seek ways to feel more comfortable in my skin. I immediately, consciously, STOPPED reading magazines as I realized I needed to explore what made ME feel beautiful. I began to explore what my body liked to do, what it didn't like to do, and what gave it pleasure.....As I began to feel more overall sensations in my body, I addressed any pain, and then re-directing myself to following the question "how can I "up" pleasure"? This led me to re-discover beauty as something that was unique to me, and also something that had real power in lifting my spirits, physically giving me energy, and an authentic dose of appreciation that I could rely on to help me right when I needed it. Let's face it, pain is a downer and pleasure is always there somewhere......but how do you find it when pains voice is so loud?
I've since recognized how important beauty is to my health. There are times, as a busy mom and business woman that I can find myself in my pajamas at noon, answering calls, writing, or working on the computer. I am so grateful for the ability to be this relaxed with my work, however, I have also noticed that if this becomes my day to day routine ( it's a slippery slope) I begin to sink a bit....my mood gets darker, my energy lower...my thoughts negative.. I even feel increase in pain ..If I take the time to appreciate my body, pick the clothes that make me feel beautiful inside, take more than 5 minutes with my hair/makeup and explore the expression I am feeling on any given day as a celebration of beauty ...it can change EVERYTHING. If I feel beautiful, it effects those around me......POSITIVELY. It's a "feng shui" inside and out.
I've also noticed that my expression of beauty is changes from day to day. There are times I feel quite beautiful in my yoga pants and top, hair in a ponytail....other times I reach for a soft feminine dress and makeup.....and still feel equally beautiful....the important thing is that I take the time to notice....and take the effort to make it important.
The true power of beauty lies in noticing the subtlties happening under the surface on a daily basis and not going down the slippery slope of "whatever" for too long......An additional aspect of this power is to expand perspective to the environment around us. Beauty can be in appreciating the colors and shapes of something seen on the ground and framing it from this aspect versus going to a habitual "it's garbarge" or some other story that sinks the ship. To be in a place of wonder, and an open-ness to let the beauty touch you is a craft well worth the effort. A really important piece to own here is your participation.....your ability to "re-frame" if you notice negativity coming in, and also to be willing to "up the beauty" by asking yourself what you can do to make the beauty increase......that may mean picking up the colorful garbage, admiring it, and putting it in the waste bin;) Being in a beautiful place is important.....it's life giving. It's part perspective and also part creating.
So my personal research concludes that those feel good emotions like thankful, happy, awe, wonder, curiosity etc. are directly connected to our capacity to receive beauty, to LET IT IN. Ive also noticed that at times beauty can be so fierce it's a challenge to LET IT IN. When I was in Costa Rica, the natural beauty of the jungle, the humming birds, the plant life, the stars , the air was so pure and beautiful.....that something inside me felt not worthy to fully LET IT IN. I had to resist the urge to "blow it off" as if it was mundane. It was magnificent and I deemed myself worthy to LET IT IN ( I actually had a moment of consciously talking myself into this ) .
As I change, as I age, as my body changes.....my ideas of beauty are changing ( thankfully they are expanding) and this allows me more opportunities to LET IT IN. Feeling beautiful in my body includes the lack of perfection, the scars, the unique way i move and even the way I self heal if I wake up feeling less than optimal......What's not so beautiful??? Trying to fit someone elses ideas of beauty or putting on a mask to fit "in". This is my perspective . Ive found that potential beauty is everywhere.....it's within and it's also in all the little things I do to create a space of beauty to be in. Beauty is lifegiving....and is something I seek to create on a daily basis. Beauty is a power.