What is beauty in a woman? What makes a woman beautiful? I know these are loaded questions. They are loaded questions for two reasons.
The first one is because we often equate beauty with vanity and self-centeredness, and those are two attributes we don't want to aspire to.
Another reason why they are loaded questions is because, when we talk about beauty, it can bring out within us either emotions or feelings of inadequacy, that we don't measure up, or of competitiveness, where we actually compete with other women. You may know the saying that often ‘women don't dress for themselves, or for men, they dress for other women’. It's rooted in competitiveness.
So, when we talk about beauty and we start bringing up all these feelings, we can see why the topic, what is beauty in a woman, is a loaded question.
I have grappled with these questions too. What follows are my thoughts on what I have found to be the essence of beauty, of what makes a woman beautiful. I'm hoping that in sharing my thoughts it will help you identify what the essence of beauty is for you. Perhaps it will give you a new way of seeing beauty, of how to live a beautiful life, and of how to exhibit your own unique beauty. Interested?
So, what is beauty in a woman?
Is it that great haircut? The jewellery? That lovely dress? Those beautiful clothes? Is it that pretty face? The beautiful figure? All the things that we may aspire to have and find, instead, that we don't measure up.
Do you know that most models say that there's a feature about themselves they don't love that they wish they could change, a feature that makes them feel inadequate and insecure? Well, if they struggle with that, what about us mere mortals? What are we to do?
I like what Coco Chanel had to say on the matter.
Coco Chanel was a celebrated French fashion designer who gave us the little black dress. She said,
Look for the woman in the dress. If there's no woman, there's no dress.
Beauty has nothing to do with our outer adornment. Beauty has everything to do with the woman in the dress and how comfortable she is in her own skin. How, then, do we get to become that woman who is comfortable in her own skin? That woman in the dress that Coco Chanel is talking about?
For me, I’ve come to understand that beauty is more than skin deep, it's our way of being in the world.
What is your way of being in the world? We all have one. The reason we have one is that it's because that's the way we are most comfortable operating in this world.
I'll ask again, what is your way of being in the world?
Is it a fearful way of being in the world? Is it an angry, frustrated, cynical way of being in the world? Is it a shy intimidated way of being in the world? Perhaps it's the damsel-in-distress way of being in the world? Or perhaps it's a hybrid, where you're the ever sweet lovely person who never gets angry, but you also harbor a lot of judgment. Is that your way of being in the world?
I have always had a timid way of being in the world. It was my way of keeping myself safe in the shadows, being shy. Yes, there were certain areas I wasn't always like that but that's really how I was because it kept me safe. How does your way of being in the world serve you?
What if there's a beautiful way of being in the world?
What does that look like?
I feel that beauty is yours to define when you know who you are, at the inner depths of your being, and live from that place. It has nothing to do with competing with other women, and it has nothing to do with fitting in with the social constructs of beauty. It's about being uniquely who you are and being comfortable with that, regardless of who the woman is standing next to you. There's no competition because nobody can compete with you being who you are, and why would you? There's nothing to competing with other women.
How do we get to that place of inner beauty?
It's a little complicated. It's not that simple. It takes courage, but this is the good news. There's somewhere to start, and the place to start is, I have found, to embrace and acknowledge your shadow side.
What is your shadow side? It’s that side of you that isn't always pleasant to be around. That side of you that triggered and can make you a little nasty. That side of you that can be mean and spiteful. That side of you that can not be that nice to live with. I think we all have that side. Let's be honest. We just don't show it to the world a whole lot but those who know us see it.
I have found that when we start to look at that shadow side, when we start to explore it, when we start to ask questions like, what's happening, why am I responding this way? What is it about this situation? What's bringing this nastiness or this jealousy out in me? When we embrace it, and we start to work through it, and change it, we become a more whole person. We become that more beautiful person who knows herself and starts to live from that place of centeredness.
Back to my question, what is beauty to you? What would it look like for you to live from a place of beauty? What does a beautiful life well lived look like for you?
Oscar Wilde, Irish poet and playwright, said,
Be yourself. Everybody else is taken.
What does it look like to be who you are? This much I know, it's a beautiful place to operate from.
Love being in your skin, take care of it, and, remember, be brave, be beautiful, be you!