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I spent the last decade working in the fashion industry as a model. And yet, I struggle to answer what exactly is beauty. Mainly because to me it’s less and less about the physical as time goes by, but as I try to explain it, not many will listen. Hardly surprising as we are bombarded every day with the images of what is considered to be beautiful. Big eyes, full lips, pronounced cheekbones, slim waist, long legs - the list goes on. Barbie doll comes to mind, beautiful but not real. The current beauty ideal may have something to do with Hollywood. Just remember the film “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and consequently it becoming a reality for many. These days it’s not so much about the hair colour as it is about perfection, the symmetry of the face, the lack of aging, the volume in some places but lack of it in others. Barbie doll comes to mind again, it always surprised me how she had such slim waist yet such big bust. No wonder so many grew up wanting that. And I find it ironic that as a child I was teased for having big lips, made to feel insecure, even ugly - yet as I grew up, people are spending lots of money to achieve the same effect. Beauty standards are changeable, fickle even - how can one be sure that tomorrow the very look you invested so much money in - will still be in fashion?
I have to admit - I used to believe in the hype, the cult of physical beauty, mainly because I didn’t feel I have it. As Emma Watson famously put it “Feeling beautiful has nothing to do with what you look like, I promise.” Well, I promise it too. Whether you feel good about yourself has little to do with your physical attributes and a lot to do with your relationship with yourself. I talk about self love a lot but we often lack it indeed. Girls are made to believe they have to be pretty above anything else and what does this do, it breeds insecurity, the loss of sight of what’s truly important. Boys learn to react to a beauty ideal that is promoted everywhere they look. Consequently, one of the values that is deeply ingrained in our psyche - the appearance is of an utter importance. If you don’t have it the way we dictate it should be, pay money and you will. Never in the history of humanity was it as simple to achieve the perfect look as it is now, especially if you have money. We see celebrities doing that and being the role models they are - we fall for this illusion even harder.
The end result - our society is obsessed with perfection when it comes to looks and sadly it often comes at the expense of striving to be better in other areas of life. If even one tenth of the attention that is paid to outer beauty, went to cultivate the inner beauty instead - the world would be so much more beautiful and a better place to be. “Beauty will save the world” might be true but beauty is not limited to the physical manifestation as the form will never be more important than substance. In fact, Dostoevsky himself meant so much more by his famous phrase. Being a devoted Christian as well as the artist and the thinker, the idea of beauty for him was closely related to the ideas of truth and good. They needed each other. The Holy trinity if you will.
Once again I can’t help but to mention the effect all of the above has on the collective consciousness. It’s easy to complain about what a mess of a world we live in and how people are ignorant and politicians are corrupt, but the truth is - we all created it. Team work. If our focus as a collective goes mainly on how to be more attractive instead of how to be a better person, why do we expect others to be any different?
By no means am I saying we should not want to look good, naturally we always will. Despite being spiritual beings at our core, we do have a physical body and with that comes the drive to attract a mate and procreate, just as with everything else in Nature.
I see body as a temporary home, a vessel for the soul and a very intelligent one as well. However it’s a fraction of what we are and is meant to compliment our essence not to replace it. But we do need to honour it as it is a magnificent creation indeed. Honouring the body would mean loving it and accepting it as it is, not telling it every day that it’s not good enough. Additionally I believe that only by accepting and loving ourselves can we truly be beautiful. It’s something that will show inevitably - in our eyes, in our energy, in something that goes deeper than skin. Something that doesn’t age and doesn’t conform to society’s norms of what is beautiful and what is not. I can’t quite put my finger on it but something tells me you know exactly what I mean.