This post in part of Yahoo! India and Dove “I Believe in Real Beauty” under the topic “What does real beauty mean to me?”
I met an internet friend some days ago. It was our first meeting. The bright smile that lit her face warmed my heart. She was an “ordinary” looking person, unattractive by the social yardstick of beauty but radiant and charismatic. All her unattractiveness was instantly transformed into something else. She was a kind of woman one would like to spend time with and feel whole.
What is it that made her instantly beautiful despite being physically unappealing?
Real beauty is that which offers value to others, beyond the woman, values which are inherent in us like compassion, generosity etc combined with an open inquisitive mind. It is her stature bearing personality and demeanor that makes her beautiful to large extent.
The key question here is to what extent beauty is physical and to what extent it’s something else.
The physical aspect of beauty is not straightforward. It is transient and subjective. Different cultures have different standards and those standards of beauty change all the time—they aren’t completely fixed. In the sense of physical aesthetics beauty has been regarded as reflection of health, vitality, sexual allure and social appeal.
We know that women all over the world and throughout time have wanted to be beautiful. It was often sought after, revered, and sometimes interpreted as a personal virtue. Some element of beauty is a male need in getting attracted to a woman, a crucial instinct for survival that cannot be ignored.
In evolutionary terms, physical beauty has value in that it helps females in securing a mate and procreation. These were some of humanity’s earliest benefits of being beautiful. A healthy, fuller, strong body was considered beautifully able for childbearing, nursing and taking on the responsibilities in a social context. The inherent qualities of a woman as a “life giver” nurturer complimented this desired physical appearance and were valued.
A woman was a fierce guarding mother and yet gave her children wings to fly and a friend, a healer, a confidante, a source of wisdom and courage and still emerge like the goddess kali to stand for what is right and just. She had the power to create something beautiful out of nothing and destroy what is negative and evil. She had a heart of a child and strength of a jaguar. It is this wholeness of her persona, the aura she carried that made her a beautiful woman. A woman clear about what she is and totally aligned with that.
Isn’t that the problem? That women have been swindled for centuries into substituting adornment for love, fashion (as it were) for passion? ~Erica Jong
Unfortunately the society which is mainly patriarchal created a false aura of “womanhood” in order to suppress the uniqueness and the inner strength of femininity and to please and aspire to become that “perfect illusory ideal beauty” women over the years lost touch with their own self.
Women became obsessed with their appearance and felt inadequate. Knowing that perfection is an illusion they blindly fell into the trap. Demanding perfection from ourselves is just another form of self-inflicted abuse which is worse than that inflicted by others. This desire to be what is rare and unattainable is a common element in beauty standards throughout the world. All we have now is a new race of life-size vinyl dolls perfectly proportioned to please the males of the species and in an endless competition with each other. Constantly stressed out spaced out to achieve that “perfect beauty” which we see in the idols we make. I feel that the essential feminine touch is lost somewhere in this.
Many believe that the cosmetic /body care industry has cashed on to this feeling of inadequacy and manipulated its portrayal of women. We have come to the point where beauty and desirability are now racially / ethnically coded. More societies are being force-fed Western beauty ideals and assimilating them into their own. We still see that an average person is judged on her attractiveness by a “White” norm leading to various attempts by dark skinned people to look as White as they could. Girls get labeled from the time they are born for the color of their skin and endless efforts to lighten the skin tone, cutting remarks and comparisons make them lose confidence in themselves. Continuously we are so sold into beliefs through advertising, television, fashion and the beauty industry that the outside of a woman is her entire value. They try to change drastically what nature has given them instead of enhancing it.
Women have become fixated on the superficial. The “beauty industry” and the beauty myth have been very destructive and limited women, their self-worth and their potential to a large extent.
The question is, how right and justified it is.
Can’t we just BE, without having to worry about being labeled, categorized, and herded?
Beauty is beyond flesh and hairdo, make up or any such transient thing. It is the growth of consciousness in us. It’s not genetic or surgically enhanced. Real beauty is combination of what you are genetically gifted with and your own inner growth. Being appreciated by men / women for my physical assets or sexual appeal is desirable and I may use the myriad products to enhance my appearance but on the other hand if someone looks at me and admires me for my intelligence and warmth it would give me more pleasure. A well-groomed appearance as it helps in building up self-esteem and is essential to all who are part of a certain work environment, part of society at large.
If I wake up and look into the mirror with a perception that I cannot change the physical; the internal “flaws” as fast as I can change the way I feel about myself, that will make me beautiful. . The beauty or the ugliness of the body is very superficial it is the positive energy the “inner flame “that matters. In fact when we become too identified with the outer beauty we get disconnected with the inner.
You can have plastic surgery to have a beautiful face, breasts; you can change your complexion and shape but you can’t change your being. Inside you will still remain greedy, full of lust, violence, anger, greed, jealousy which will dominate you. All these things the plastic surgeon can do nothing about and it is not beautiful to me. The real beauty appears only when you stop cramming yourself into predefined boxes.
Step out of the “one size fits all” cookie-cutter culture that’s been handed over to us. Stop spending oodles on makeup, fashion, and fit in that mould.
Would you hide your light because someone else said you weren’t good enough to shine? Think Again?
A truly beautiful woman represents love, beauty, and esteem. It is time we strengthened our “self confidence muscles” and wake up to the full expression of our most beautiful Self freeing ourselves from the unreasonable standards of beauty shoved on us by society.
Outer appearance does not always reflect the inner beauty. One maybe “plain/ugly/average” looking according to the social yardstick and yet have exceptional charm, intelligence, zest etc. It is often that we miss out on such people because of our obsession with outer appearance.
“Outward beauty is not enough; to be attractive a woman must use words, wit, playfulness, sweet-talk, and laughter to transcend the gifts of Nature”.Patronius
All women have an element of beauty that is uniquely their own. At a deeper level, all “flaws” are subjective and based on our own interpretations, perspectives and focuses. We may obsess about certain aspects of our body or appearance, our personality and consider them as bad but the truth is they simply are as they are—we add the meaning and interpretation to them.
Osho says, “It requires tremendous courage to ‘be yourself’ in success and failure, praise and condemnation and a woman who can achieve it is truly beautiful. A woman understands the human soul`s wellspring, for in her unconscious mind and through it, she is directly linked to the major currents of the mind which bear us and carry us forward. When a woman knows her true self, such as courage, which facilitates one to be herself at all phases emerges.”
Source: ‘Far beyond stars
I can’t ask or expect other people to find me beautiful. I can, though, expect of myself to pour more time, effort into making my inside beautiful than my outside, whether it be thin or average or fat.
Some of the real beauties I admire
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