The topic of beauty is a prickly subject and leaves many people confused. In my work with women more specifically, I’ve noticed that all of them have dealt with self-esteem issues and lack of self-love in regards to their appearance at some point. Regardless of how beautiful, successful, talented and wonderful they are, all women have insecurities about how they look.
These insecurities are fuelled by the prescription of beauty that is fed to us through different media outlets: the projection of beauty we see in magazines, the women who work for television, women who are celebrated by fashion designers and are labelled muses because of the conformity of their waistlines. This, of course, is purposely affecting our self-esteem, because our insecurities keep the beauty industry alive and sustain a very lucrative business.

But the distortion and limitation of the concept of beauty are not new. The stories we read about historical women are often limited to tales about the beauty of those women. As if their beauty somehow elevated them to a special standard which made them survive history’s censorship. Think of mystical and mythical women like Helen of Troy or Cleopatra who were celebrated for their beauty, but feared at the same time, as if their beauty somehow gave them the power to bewitch men. These women whose lives were too well documented to simply be ignored were still largely defined by their appearance. Many other powerful women simply disappeared from our history without a trace. The female examples we are left with are scarce and often paint a sad and passive picture of a feminine ideal that is defined by beauty, virtue and kindness.

This, however, is a fairytale version of history, written and conjured up by the men in power. It’s not because the feminine is largely absent, or confined to a peripheral function in written history that women actually were insignificant. We all know for a fact that cartouches of female pharaohs have been chiselled off temple walls, gospels have been burnt, history has been written and reinvented many times to suit the narrative of those in power. Physical beauty has been used as a political tool to keep women quiet by reducing them to a decorative function.
And by pursuing the dominant beauty standards today and accepting that the rules of beauty are defined by exterior sources, we are still agreeing with the idea that physical beauty is the most important asset of the feminine, reducing women yet again to one of their aspects. This is why, in order to rehabilitate feminine energy and restore the voice of the feminine, it is high time we start redefining our history and our reality by adding female voices. We can help shape a more equal world by redefining the concepts that are part of the structure of our reality and reclaiming our creative power in doing so.

One of those concepts that needs to be reviewed is beauty. Instead of dismissing physical beauty as a superficial concept altogether, we can simply refine our definition of it and shift our vision accordingly. When we think of the beauty of a breathtaking landscape or the magnificence of a black panther, the word superficial would never come to mind, for example. So what does real beauty mean and what is left when we connect to its essence?

I started asking women and men how they saw beauty, how they define and perceive beauty in others and in themselves and what came out of these discussions was very interesting and surprisingly similar.
Turns out that, instead of what we might be led to believe, to most people beauty is more of an internal than external phenomenon. It expands far beyond the physical realm and has very little to do with superficial beauty but more with a feeling that emanates from the inside, an energy that we exude when we are fully present. And yes, this inner beauty can be perceived on the outside, exterior beauty as a symptom of inner harmony, but it is but one layer of all that beauty is.
When our beauty is limited to our physical appearance, it is often felt to be superficial, hollow. And we admit that often, when we are not feeling well, we use our physical appearance, the way in which we dress or our make-up as some kind of armour, a shield of protection between ourselves and the outside world.
When we feel good, our physical beauty is felt to be the external expression of an underlying, deeper beauty. Our beauty is felt in our openness and our vulnerability. When we use our appearance to express our mood, our personality and sublimate our inner beauty, our external appearance becomes an extension of who we are, an expression of our true selves. External beauty is meaningful when it is carried by a deeper energy. The word beautiful says it all really: it means full of beauty. We feel that a beautiful person is someone who exudes happiness, who is fulfilled, glowing, satisfied, confident, kind and generous. The abundance of inner beauty pouring out on the outside, like an overflowing cup.

Authenticity is a key component of true beauty. This makes sense, for if we think about it, the beauty of a flower lies in the fact that is not trying to be anything else, it just is. So instead of all trying to fit the same mould, we should really concentrate on bringing out our own frequency, on adding our own highly individual beauty to the palette of colours. Beauty is found in diversity, not in uniformity.
We find beauty in many different places, we can find beauty when we truly connect with another person, there is beauty in compassion, in joyfulness, in forgiveness, in the acceptance of who we are, we can find beauty in the light that shines in people’s eyes. In essence, true beauty is the visible aspect of love.

The last thing that really caught my attention when hearing people speak about beauty is that we have radically different definitions and perceptions of beauty when it comes to other people’s beauty and our own. When it comes to ourselves, we seem to base our opinion about our own beauty solely on our physical appearance. Why is that? Why are we so harsh on ourselves? Every time we are being hard on ourselves for not having the perfect hair, figure, eyes or what not, we should remind ourselves that these are not the things we find beautiful in the people we love most. What we find beautiful in the people we love is their smile, their quirkiness, their big heart, their creativity, enthusiasm, passion… And this is also what other people find most beautiful about us.

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