Today, Rosie asks us to write down what the word Beautiful means to us. What has informed that definition and what compels us to use it.
I am a graphic designer. I have been using my eye to make judgements, assessments, to create, for my entire life. For me the word Beautiful is automatically one that I relate to the surface, to the appearance, to the form, shape, colour. There are certain rules in nature and our culture that inform what we are raised to see as beautiful.
I am profoundly effected by beauty.
I lived with dancers for a while after high school, they were near perfect human bodies. Just being near that astounding beauty, especially when they were dancing, is quite something. It effected me. I forgave and assumed and bent for the benefit of the gaze of these beauties.
I see my children. So perfect, long lashes, smooth perfect skin, soft unearthly curves and tones. The natural tones and textures of their hair, their lips, their eyes. I'm constantly telling them how beautiful they are, I actually can hardly stop myself. And I know I need to balance those comments with the discussion of their personalities and identities.
I am always astounded by the beauty of men. In all their shapes and sizes. I can see the small boy in all of them. There are very few men I can't find some redeeming feature in, after some time.
But there's the rub. Time. Beauty is surface to me. Beauty is about form and shape and texture.
Take Stephen Fry. He himself discusses quite openly his feelings of being visually ugly. He is. But then you see him speak, the wonderful words, how he thinks and writes, how he can use his voice, and he is lovely! But he isn't beautiful. However, you don't see that until you have spent TIME with him, or watching and listening to him.
I once worked with a very beautiful man. He would smile his million dollar smile and we would all line up and do whatever he needed. But he was a real shit. Manipulative, selfish, amoral. But, he was still beautiful, and boy didn't that help his career. You can't figure out he's a shit until you've spent time with him for a while. The initial reaction is, he's beautiful.
I know everyone is screaming at me, 'no, Rosie is asking for inner beauty!!'. Well, maybe, but I don't see people as being beautiful inside. People can be interesting, complex, caring, contrary, generous all kinds of things! But beauty, beauty is a pure thing of the visual for me. Because beauty is simple. People, or more accurately, personalities, are complex.
Maybe this comes back to my distrust of people. Beauty I can trust. Beauty is always beautiful. Beauty always makes me happy. Beauty can be made out of thin air. But beauty is not inside a person. People are too complex, too easy to appear one way and another the next day. People are in constant flux.
So…I guess I have failed todays task?
To join me in this journalling adventure towards greater self acceptance, be sure to get Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance by the magnificent Rosie Molinary.
I have been stewing over this post all night. I want to clarify something.
There is a real trend for the body positivity movement of 'you are beautiful!!' thing. I get subscription emails from body image bloggers telling me I'm beautiful or loved or whatever, and it really irritates me, HOW DO THEY KNOW!? Some people, lots of people, aren't beautiful. They aren't!
And, is that a bad thing?
I want the emphasis off beauty. Inner or outer. I obviously have a narrow view of the definition of Beautiful as most people like to define it as an inner beauty. But I don't see those who aren't beautiful as less valued, less valid or less important. I guess I value other things more in a person. But as someone who struggles with some black and white thinking it's taken me a long time to realise people are never always one thing. They are never all beautiful or all ugly. I guess when it comes to people, grey is important.
I wonder if the body image movement focus on everyone being beautiful is a religious thing, you know, 'you are loved' and all that? I guess I just don't want to describe a person, something so complex and changing using a word that for me describes a kind of simplicity.
I want the things people can be valued for to be more complex, more varied, more tangible than beautiful. Those things are different for each person and change all the time. It's harder than mere beauty.
We are so much more than just beautiful.