Who's in your mirror?
In this, the month of Love… (which, I know, there are mixed feelings about…) - I’d like to direct your attention to the mirror.
What do you see when you look there? Or, maybe more to the point - how do you feel when you see your reflection?
This was the main point of a recent presentation on Natural Beauty I gave at a local library. (Yeah, not so much about swapping out your Maybelline for Evan Healy, or seven ways to make an avocado mask…).
It matters because what we see - in light of how we even define ‘beauty’ and whether we ‘measure up’ - informs not only how we feel about ourselves, but what choices we make about what we do to or put on or in our bodies.
We are bombarded by messages from all angles about how we should look - all of which keep us in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction and self-critique.
Now, the quest for beauty is nothing new ... every culture has its standards - many of which we can’t relate to today. Whether spiritually-driven, or to look more wealthy, or more fertile, some of these beauty practices would be taken to extremes, even to the result of illness or disfigurement. (Think: lead-based face paint, corsets, and foot binding).
Are we any more enlightened today?
Our society values thinness… and, of course, youthfulness. But I would say, even more detrimental to our well-being - flawlessness.
We are a culture that values appearance over function. Personality over character. We’re presented images - not only of models with certain supposedly desirable attributes, but images of them that have been enhanced, photo-shopped - practically devoid of ‘natural’.
Which comes back to the question, what are you seeing? And, also, how do you define beauty?
For those interested in the phrase ‘natural beauty’ - how would you define that?
I asked that question at the presentation… because adding ‘natural’ seems to have a more specific meaning for us.
For some, it might mean achieving some of the same cultural standards of beauty, but with non-toxic methods.
It might also be a description of someone who’s ‘just born with it’, who needs little adornment (But again, born with ‘what’ exactly?)
Drilling down, it could be applied to someone who’s inner light and love for life shines through, no matter the external aesthetic proportions. And, sometimes, this beauty is only discovered through continued relationship, rather than apprehended right away.
So, ‘natural beauty’ has something to do with integrity, perhaps. Radiating one’s life as it is, with no masks, which may also include one’s state of health.
When we define natural beauty this way, we begin to see that it’s more of an inside job. And, as I recently determined, it’s a behavior.
We are all on a spectrum of how honestly we can say we ‘love ourselves’… some of us being very, very far from that capability.
But, can we begin to see ourselves through the eyes of love, rather than the filters a multi-gazillion-dollar ‘beauty care’ industry (and I will include the diet and fitness industries) have implanted in our vision?
Can we see ourselves as a loving parent would gaze at a child, or the way God sees us?
When I look in the mirror (and it depends on the time of day, month, year, lighting, etc..lol), I see wrinkles of a 52-year old. I see 3 am worry and really-need-a-vacation circles under my eyes. February complexion. I see my mom in the area around my mouth and jaw. I see streaks of well-earned gray hair. My dad’s Roman nose and Sicilian eyebrows. Short legs, generous glutes (didja like how I put that?) and broad shoulders.
I also see eyes becoming clearer and more knowing with age. A mouth that smiles more and speaks up more with every passing year. I see a fleshier body than in my 20’s but, still strong and in some ways, much stronger. I see grace that’s part my mother and part qigong. I see peace in my visage from a lot, and I mean a LOT, of breathing and prayer.
It’s all there. My life as I’m living it, and a decreased desire to hide any of it the older I get… only to enhance it with more living, more connection, more emotion, more tenderness and care for my body and my soul.
Beauty is a choice of interpretation. Sometimes, you have to look for it. Hard. Turn off the critical filters and the quest for flawlessness (as some humans define it). But, it can be found everywhere.
The more I choose to see beauty, the more I do see it and create it around me. Radiate it outward. And on and on it goes. Beauty is a behavior.
We are the mirrors, really, aren’t we?
So, again, I ask you, what do you see?
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