Beauty Is You

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. ~ Confucius

Women are under attack. Every part of their being is being scrutinized, dissected and criticized by shock jocks who promote hatred over the air waves, politicians seeking to increase their visibility and popularity, and law makers who can only be described as misogynists. Whether the issue is over their sexual behavior, beauty, parenting skills or the size of their paycheck, they have become the increasing target of unfair criticism based on a standard of unrealistic expectations. Though throughout history and especially in today’s world, the worst attacks seem to come in the form of ridicule and criticism for not being desirable or attractive enough.

The values of our society that judge women solely based on looks always places women at a disadvantage. The beauty/health/fitness magazines generally perpetuate the illusion of the modern superwoman (a woman who is part supermodel, supermom, perfect housekeeper, perfect friend/partner/spouse and rising career star). Basically women have to be perfect…..at everything. To help women become perfect, there are beauty products. For every beauty emergency, there is a remedy in the form of a beauty product. Messages and images of attractive women (and the imperative to be as beautiful as possible) insinuate and embed themselves into her subconscious. Glossy magazines display bold statements scattered across their covers and use them as bait to convince women that they must become privy to the beauty secrets contained within. This enticement to buy the holy grail promoting youthful skin or silky, bouncy hair quickly leads to desperation and fear that she will no longer be attractive if she doesn’t immediately buy and slather her face and body with these miracle salves.

With such unrealistic standards of beauty and burgeoning beauty trends that are either ridiculous, costly or dangerous to women, how can we ever keep up? Leopard-print false eyelashes, painful tooth whitening compounds and vaginal bleaching creams. Yes, you heard me correctly. Now there are creams promoting the lightening of skin in that region. Right now the topic is merely giving teenage girls something to giggle about, but fairly soon, it probably will become a mainstream trend. Unfortunately these “trends” work towards making women feel more insecure than they already are. Is nothing sacred? Isn’t there a body part or area on our body that we can just leave well alone? At what point will we feel attractive enough so that we don’t have to buy into unrealistic images of beauty that even supermodels themselves can’t live up to?

When we are at peace we are enough. When we feel truly empowered is when we will feel stunningly beautiful. Being a woman is to have knowledge that we are endowed with and strengthened by our beauty, our sexuality, by the full use of our intellect, nurturing our passions and by using our talents and gifts in service to those around us. We as women are complex, multi-faceted. We won’t tolerate being reduced to just another pretty face.

The assault on women, women’s rights and womanhood itself is at an all time high. Must we also add ourselves to the ever growing list of attackers? When we place so much emphasis on our looks, we buy into societal messages that inevitably have us feeling badly about ourselves. When we expect ourselves to consistently perform superhuman acts everyday in every arena- at the dinner table, in the Boardroom, in the bedroom- yet again, we set ourselves up for failure and disappointment at some level. Empowerment comes when we stop judging ourselves. Then we need to stop judging each other. When we judge our sister we only expose our own insecurity and become willing participants in acts aimed to subjugate women.

It’s time to define true beauty. Beauty is within you. It is in the woman next to you. It is in the unlikeliest of places. Beauty is not contained only in your visage, your body or your outward appearance. But it is visible when you complete a headstand in yoga without a prop for the first time. It is witnessed when you fight for an unpopular decision in the workplace because you believe in it. It is when you grow rows of vines of hearty tomatoes in your garden. And it is when you get tired of coloring your hair and are brave enough to let the first shades of gray appear.