My Heart, Your Home: What is beauty?   

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

What is beauty?

Raising two girls I constantly worry about how our beauty obsessed society is going to affect them and their self worth. Hell, I worry about my obsession with beauty will affect their self love. Every day we are smothered with images of beautiful people, products to enhance your beauty, beautiful clothes and beautiful things. Beauty. It has become so important. Who looks how, who wears what and who owns the best. 

I attended a dinner party about a year ago, I was taking a back seat in a conversation which became quite heated when the conversation turned to me. Being the only Mother of a Daughter at the table I was asked what my thoughts are on how beauty can allow a woman more opportunities. Wether that be beauty in physical looks, or beauty in appearance (clothes, make up etc). It was not a conversation I particularly wanted to partake in, nor was it a conversation I felt qualified in. Evelyn was just 12 months old so I was not yet raising a woman, or even a girl, I was raising a child, a baby even. 

I had not yet considered how looks would affect my Daughter's life, or if it will at all. In my shock at the question and having limited time to construct a well thought our response I answered simply. I said that:

Yes of course our society thrives on beauty. It is unfortunate that looks can open more doors, but it is a reality. In saying that, I hope that my Daughter will grow to be not only physically beautiful, but smart and intelligent. I hope that she will grow to have doors opened for her, because she deserves them.

The conversation naturally flowed along, covering many corners of the beauty debate. It then landed on bullying. Where I was accused of having no understanding what bullying really was because I would have "only been bullied because you are pretty". I was told that I would have no idea what it was like to eat your lunch in the toilets, or feel so alone, or be taunted and teased on a daily basis. However, I do have an understanding, because those things happened to me too. Regardless of looks, being bullied is being bullied, it is as simple as that. I spent many lunch times in the bathrooms, or the library, or the school counsellors office because I simply could not stand to see those girls one more time. I, by no means, ever felt like I was being bullied because I was pretty. I felt ugly, disliked, judged. 

With beauty, can come acceptance, or rejection. Just like with any other aspect of your personality. Being intelligent can both intimidate and impress your fellow peers. As can being athletic and fit. Being arty, dramatic, musical. Brown hair, red hair, blonde hair, no hair. People will always find a reason to either love you or loathe you. Regardless of how you look.

That comment still offends me today. What makes me pretty to the woman who said those words to me, may be what makes me repulsive to another. I was not bullied because of my looks and it is people who believe that looks can play that bigger part in our world, who cause the problem in the first place. 

Yes, I do believe that the way a person looks can effect the opportunities they receive in their lives. Do I believe it is right? No, I do not. I will spend my time as the Mother to two Daughters teaching them that if you want doors to open for you, you need to open them yourself. If I have learnt anything in life, it is that to receive something because you have earned it, because you deserve it, is far more enjoyable than to just be given something. The pride that you feel when you land that promotion you have been fighting for, or when you receive a high distinction because you spent the hours researching, that is an adrenaline rush like no other. 

Beauty, to me, is about the way you present yourself. Beauty is about your insides. Smile, and the whole world smiles with you. Let the world see you, the depths of you. Bare your soul, that will make you the "prettiest" version of yourself. These are lessons that I will teach my children.  

In striving to ensure my Daughters know that their worth is not based on the way they physically look I have taught myself to let go of my own beauty obsessed, self worth and I am beginning to see that I am so much more than I appear. Beauty is not an adjective for someone's looks, beauty is an adjective for a whole person. 

What is Beauty?

Beauty is you, in every form.


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