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Saturday, January 14, 2012

What is beautiful?

The definition of beauty is a very fluid thing.  It evolves with our cultures and constantly changes over time.  The women who were considered the Most Beautiful 50 years ago, would be considered "over-weight" by the "standards" of today.  But who determines what is beautiful and what is not?  Each individual person has their own image of what is beautiful, but all too often we are constantly bombarded by unrealistic images of beauty that are often contrary to the health and well-being of those being used to portray beauty.

I live in the United States, and honestly I have never really been anywhere else, a couple of overnight visits to Canada decades ago is the only foreign travel I have ever done.  So I speak from my experiences in this country.  And in the US the standards of beauty that are force feed to us from birth are both disturbing and depressing.  From Barbie dolls to super models who have been airbrushed to perfection, we are constantly assaulted by unrealistic images of what we "should think" is beautiful.  I call Bullshit!

Now I love beautiful things as much as the next person, but I find beauty in (almost) everything. I refuse to be swayed by advertisers and Hollywood versions of what is beautiful, I have my own eyes and my own heart and I prefer to see with those rather than follow the status quo on what is or is not beautiful.  I learned a long time ago that I was never gonna look like Barbie, or any of the women in the magazines.  I did go through a phase where I thought that it was the worst thing in the world to be seen in public without make-up, but fortunately I outgrew that eventually. My husband still thinks I am beautiful, so no one else's opinion really matters to me any more.  I wouldn't win any beauty pageants today, but I would never enter one anyway.  I know that I am a beautiful person from the inside out, if someone else is unable to see that, well, that is a reflection on them, not me.

My idea of beauty is never going to match anyone else's version, and I don't believe that it should.  We have all heard the expression that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", and that saying is absolutely correct!  If you cannot see the beauty, that is only a reflection on you, on what you think of as beautiful.  Now I am not saying that this is a bad thing, it can be if you let it, but it isn't bad on its own.  Our differences are what make life interesting, and even more beautiful to me.  Everyone has their own idea of beauty, and no one's is wrong, unless they are trying to force it upon someone else.

I know the damage that advertiser's and the main stream media's ideas of beauty can cause, but that damage comes from them trying to force it on the world as the only acceptable way to be.  Considering that 99.9% of the world can never live up to those ideals (since they are generally unrealistic to start with), we are left feeling that we need whatever they are selling in order to be "acceptable".  Now I am not actually slamming advertiser's or the other forms of media, I mean lets face the facts here, they give us what they think we want to see.  If we are buying their products, and watching their movies, shows, or whatever, then we are encouraging them to continue using those unrealistic images.  Until people decide that this is not what they want to encourage, nothing will get better. 

I have chosen to stand against the unrealistic images in my own way.  I don't go to movies - I haven't been to a theater in almost a decade.  They all come on tv eventually, I can wait till they are free.  I don't buy "fashion magazines" or the tabloids, I have no interest in what Hollywood people are doing, they have no relevance in my life.  I don't buy make-up, or hair coloring, or any other "beauty" products.  I work at home, so I don't buy fancy clothes, or shoes, or purses, or jewelry, or any thing like that either.  I have no problem going shopping while wearing my "house-wife hat" ( a bandana for those unfamiliar with the term - no NOT a dew rag - that's a whole different thing).  I love bright colors and things that most people call "gaudy" are just wonderfully beautiful to me.

The only "name-brand" clothing I own are my Levis and my Reeboks, and only the Reeboks are bought new. I don't wear them for the name, I wear them for the fit, they are comfortable and they fit my body better than anything else I have tried.  I buy my Levis 2nd-hand because they are no longer manufactured in the USA, so my way of protesting the outsourcing of American jobs is to make sure they never get my money again.  If I could find any other shoes that actually fit my weird feet I wouldn't buy the Reeboks either.  But sadly they are the only ones that conform to my needs, and there is no way in Hell I am ever buying used shoes again, so they still get my money every once in a while.

My home will never be in Better Homes and Gardens, I do not care.  It is cluttered, but clean, and a few weeds in the garden add to its character.  I don't "decorate" my home the way the magazines say I should, my furniture doesn't match, but our home functions for us and we have no need to care what anyone else thinks of it.  But even at its worst, no one can ever claim we are "bringing down the property values", everything is always reasonably neat and tidy, at least as far as anyone can see.

So remember, the next time you are upset about the unrealistic representations of beauty that are being foisted upon you, you are supporting it by buying their products and buying into their hype,  If you really don't like what they are doing, put your money where your mouth is, that is the only thing that they will ever listen to.  Advertisers do not care how you think or how you feel, they only care about selling their products.  If people actually stopped buying those products, they would change their advertising VERY quickly.  If you don't like the message that shows like "Toddlers in Tiaras" or "Jersey Shores" are selling - don't watch the stupid shows!

But most importantly, people need to quit appointing themselves as the "beauty police", everyone is beautiful in their own way, if they choose to be.  When you criticize someone else's expression of their beauty, you are not only denying yourself the opportunity to share in that beauty, you are claiming that your opinion of beauty is somehow superior to theirs.  I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it isn't.  It is only your opinion, and it is no better and no worse than anyone else's.

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