Beauty – Part Two
The human race’s obsession with attractiveness is probably, in essence, quite innocent. Displaying and acknowledging attractiveness can be argued to be a perfectly reasonable evolutionary mechanism employed by most (if not all) people to help determine health and vitality. We’re naturally drawn to attractive people as it is generally synonymous with health, vitality, fertility, and good genes.
I can’t be bothered talking about any of that.
I do, however, want to wrap up this conversation about beauty. Seeing as it is my blog, I’ll give this final installment the Dee treatment, and just share with you my own personal opinions on what is beautiful, basically ignoring the screeds of research I’ve been wading through on the subject.
I’ve opted to share five things that I think are beautiful to illustrate my point on this subject. I am leaving out countless others including:
3) Smile lines and well-earned physical signs of living a full and interesting life
7) A warm smile
8) Health and vitality (regardless of what the scales may say!)
The list could go on and on.
However, for today’s blog I am sticking to five things that I think make women truly beautiful:
1) Strength and resilience
I realised again last week that there are a number of absolutely amazing women I am lucky enough to know, that have overcome some gargantuan obstacles in their lives.
I am lucky enough to have met women who have faced (and overcome) addictions, mental illness, hard times that I can’t even imagine being faced with. Women who have survived life-threatening illness, cared for others tirelessly (be it a sick or severely disabled child, family member, or in some cases they have made the care of others a career), mind numbing loss, war, natural disasters, poverty, abuse. These ladies have experienced rock-bottom and climbed out with an understanding and resilience that is impossible to describe. Although you can’t immediately put your finger on it, just being around them, you get a sense of the strength and understanding that can only come from the experiences that they have faced and overcome.
I have dozens of examples I’m intensely eager to share with you, but these are not my stories to tell. So I’ve scoured the web for images of the strength that I am talking about, as a picture truly is worth a thousand words.
Rescued from slavery in the sex industry. Strength and beauty embodied.
Iconic shot of an Afghan refugee – her eyes say so much, the pain, the wisdom, the things she must have seen. Beautiful and haunting.
Drew Barrymore, one of the more well known recovering addicts in the spotlight.
Hurricane Katrina survivors supporting each other. Touching and beautiful.
While there is a time and a place for being tough but fair, or for “putting on your big girl knickers and getting on with things”, there is also something absolutely beautiful and human that can only be seen when we are exposed and vulnerable.
The other part of the beauty of vulnerability is that, even the most amazing and effective women have vast and gaping imperfections. Being privy to that, and seeing just how broken we all are is fascinating, comforting, connecting and refreshing.
Perhaps there is something a bit more basic and visceral about vulnerability and its association with beauty. We are, apparently, the fairer and weaker sex. There is something magic in being swept up into strong arms in a moment of weakness. Something so romantic about needing protection and rescuing.
But only sometimes. There’s a big difference between being an occasional damsel in distress, in need of a hero, and a consistent mentality of being a victim and not just getting on with things. While I truly think it is beautiful and more than a little sexy to be vulnerable on occasion after you’ve been strong for too long, there is also something quite sad and ugly about expecting other people to solve the world’s issues for you.
There is something exquisite and enticing about the effortlessness that some women include and embrace those around them. These are the women who get down to eye level when they talk to children, they look you in the eye when they are talking to you, they are frequently found quietly (and often thanklessly) doing what needs to be done in their homes, families, communities and even the world itself.
I really enjoy people watching, and looking out for examples of the beautiful things I am talking about in strangers.
Old couples holding hands or sitting together and so comfortable with their partner that you can hardly tell where one of them ends and the other begins.
New mothers looking into their baby’s face, radiating a contagious sense of peace.
Seeing a couple on a successful first (or early) date and witnessing the energy between them.
Teachers, trainers, coaches, community leaders working with a group and being able to see the cohesion and enthusiasm that their words and energy plant in the hearts and minds of their captive audience.
This is connectedness, and it is absolutely magnificent.
Again, I have an almost limitless supply of stories I could share with you about friends and family who demonstrate this amazing connectedness. But, they are not my stories to tell. I hope you get what I mean, and I added some more stock photos and pithy sayings I am sharing in an attempt to illustrate this point.
Kindness is beautiful.
That’s it. Full stop.
There are few things as appealing and attractive as laughter. Just overhearing people laughing releases positive endorphins in most people. Smiles and merriment break down barriers, ease tension, bring people together and, not to put too fine a point on it, make life bearable.
Being able to laugh at our self, and each other, without malice or envy, is about the shortest distance between two people I can imagine.
So I’ll wrap this post and subject up with some pictures of gorgeous funny women who have influenced me directly and from a distance.