On Beauty

Truth Byte #68

“Beauty shines, no matter what.”

 

When I was a little girl, I would look at those blonde-haired, blue-eyed dolls lined up on the shelf at Toys R’ Us with an ache in my heart. That was back before the days they realized little girls with dark skin and black hair may need a doll that looks like them to feel normal. I looked nothing like those perfect, pink dolls, and I wondered how I too, could feel pretty.

 

Luckily, those pirated Bollywood films my parents enjoyed on our living-room TV on Saturday nights gave me an alternate version of beauty that I clung to into adulthood. To be beautiful (in my parent’s culture) you mostly just needed those big, beautiful eyes that spoke of love and longing and brimmed to the edge with tears every so often.  Lucky for me, I had inherited those exact eyes from some sexy, demure grandmother in my lineage. Long, thick, black hair and light skin helped too, but the focus in those old-time black-and-white movies was always those eyes, ringed with black eyeliner and full of mystery.

 

I have spent years wondering if I am beautiful.

 

Then this weekend, I delivered a TedX talk called “People matter more than things.”  As I looked at myself in the mirror before going on stage, I realized that when someone is walking their talk, when they are sharing their heart with no walls up, when they are being real, the beauty shines through. Sure, a cute haircut and well-fitted clothing may help, but real beauty is simply undeniable. We don’t have to look a certain way, we just need those eyes – those eyes that reflect our souls.

 

Today I plead with my sisters – let’s celebrate beauty, in all it’s forms.

 

So much of my childhood pain around beauty came from other girls and women, from a look, or a giggle, or a face turned away. My so-called friends would mock my clothing choices, not realizing that I had little influence on which hand-me-down outfit happened to fit my always-growing body.  My cousins, fairest of them all, would encourage me to stay out of the sun because I had a “problematic complexion”. Women that knew my mom would poke my extended, pre-pubescent belly, pinch my cheeks, and chuckle.

 

They all fed into the Toys R’ Us standard, and I truly didn’t fit it.  And though no one directly told me I was ugly, each of these moments made me go a little deeper into my shell, dimmed my shining light just a little bit more, until in my mid-twenties I found myself obese, bald, and stuck in the hell that is also known as self-loathing.

 

My mom was different though. As a child, she always pointed out my eyes, my hair, my heart. She taught me how to dress elegantly, and how to enjoy bright, bold colours. She promised me that one day they would all see what she did, and she stayed the course, even when I was feeling my ugliest.

 

Finally, that day has come.

 

Mothers, protect those precious little girls, let them know that their beauty will shine even while their bodies change and grow and feel alien to them. Aunts, cousins, be kind to each other. It’s not a contest. There is enough room here for all of us to shine. If we do, it simply makes a brighter, more beautiful world.

 

It’s your life, and only you can live it.

 

Before Your Sweetness Turns Sour…

Truth Byte #25

“Claim your beauty before it’s too late.”

In the animal kingdom, males are granted with special features to attract the females of their species.  In the human kingdom, it seems these roles are reversed.  Many women in cultures all over the world spend hundreds of hours and dollars a year engaging in a variety of beauty rituals from hair removal to exfoliation to make-up application to shopping sprees to gym memberships to low-fat cooking lessons, all in pursuit of a certain physical size and style.  As I enter this world of beauty almost two decades after my contemporaries, I am seeing there is a lot to learn, but also a lot of mis-truth out there about beauty.

So today, I am taking the veil off beauty.

Beauty is much more simple than I used to think.  I used to think that one had to have a specific bone structure and waist size, a certain hair colour and style, a certain skin glow and eye shape to be considered beautiful.

Today I know that this is all bullshit.

The more I work with normal, everyday people, the more I learn about beauty.  There are five myths about beauty that I want to expose right now so you can get back to claiming your own beauty.

  1. “They” know what is beautiful, and they are showing us.
    • Hollywood, Bollywood, that glossy magazine and that tella novella or soap opera director do NOT know what true beauty is.  They can show us what is appealing to the eye, but you have to know that the faces and bodies you see on the screen have been wrung through the filters of video-editing technology and hair-and-makeup, and so what you see is a perfectly lit, perfectly angled, flawless shell.  They have given us lots of cultural stereotypes to undo (ahem: gentlemen prefer blondes) and contribute to all sorts of body-doubt.  Trust that YOU know what is beautiful, and work with what your mama gave you.
  1. Beauty is only skin deep.
    • There are physically attractive men and women who are also lovely people.  This myth was created by people who felt ugly, and needed to demonize the beautiful folk.  A truly beautiful person shines, and a bitter person, no matter how physically attractive they may be, does not.  Those sparkling, hopeful eyes and that ear to ear smile of a two-year old gets you every time, right?  That’s because it’s not about their physical shape or what they are wearing, but the joy that is bursting through.  Get in touch with that spark, and your beauty will burst forth too.  Suddenly you will notice that people find you irresistible.
  1. You are either born beautiful or not.
    • We are born with certain physical features, sure, but how our face and body develop over time has a link to the thoughts we have about ourselves and the worldLouise Hay has been writing about this connection since the 1970’s, and through her books and lectures has shown how powerfully and directly thoughts and beliefs impact physical well-being.  The ugly thoughts turn into disruption and dis-ease, while positive thoughts (which she calls “affirmations”) help our bodies remain healthy and shining.  No matter what you were born with, the kind of “vibe” you bring is more powerful and palatable than your six pack or perfect contours.
  1. Slimmer/lighter/(insert comparative word here) is better.
    • When we think about physical beauty, we have to be honest with ourselves that concepts about beauty do not exist in a vacuum. There are historical forces that shape our beliefs about what we consider beautiful.  For example, in places that were colonized by Britain and other Western European countries, the “white is right” perspective penetrated the local psyche deeply.  Generations after independence was won back by nations, lightness of skin is still considered a marker of beauty.  For people growing up in these contexts, we must challenge the socially accepted norms of beauty.  Why is slimmer better? Why is lighter skin more desirable?  Why do we have phrases like “good hair”?  The changes start from the inside, by being able to look in the mirror or look into the world and see beauty in all shapes and colours.
  1. Beautiful people have an easier life.
    • It is easy to look at someone who seems to “have it all” and judge him or her. But beautiful people have problems too.  Research has shown that physically attractive people are believed more often, are given more leadership opportunities, and get away with more bad behaviour, but I know from working with some very incredibly physically beautiful people that just because one is pretty or handsome, does not mean his or her life is without issues. When we don’t have something for ourselves, we tend to judge it in others in order to cope.  But here’s the rub: beautiful people need friends too.  So be that friend and stop assuming their perfect hair or chiseled chin means they have it all.  And this will likely help your own beauty shine through.

I meet beautiful people all the time.  Some of them are old friends that have found their life-rhythm and are just glowing, while others I just see passing by, sharing that “life is good” feeling through a smile or nod.  I see beauty all around me in the clouds and the trees and the rivers in my own neighbourhood.  And more and more, I am claiming the beauty within me, and letting it shine through.  You can join me on this journey, if you are willing to see though our collective veils and notice beauty in the most unexpected places, including the mirror.

Do it now, before you your sweetness turn into plain old sour.

Want to truly uncover your beauty? Join me for a life-shifting workshop coming up in the Fall.  Early bird deadline is coming up, so book now to get a deal! Watch my talk-show on the topic of being smokin’ hot for more practical tips on claiming your beauty.