“What do we understand about beauty? Is it only physical?”-Vijayalakshmi, Founder of The Mohiniyattam Institute
I attended a mixer a couple weeks ago for a wonderful organization called MentorMatchmaker. Vijayalakshmi made some thought provoking statements about beauty. She believes there is much more to the woman than her physical beauty.
“Advertisements emphasize only the physical beauty of a woman and that can be frustrating. In today’s world women are not able to embrace aging comfortably.”
I am aging. So are you. Every single woman reading this article is aging. We’re not going backwards we’re moving forward! But are we being valued for things other than our physical appearance….?
I would like to believe that I am valued, treasured, and honored for my character, my choices, my God given talents, and my heart. But my experiences sometimes say otherwise. Here are some things that have been said to me in the last month.
“You should have worn long pants…” -Young woman at the beach.
“You won’t always look this way….” –Man from online dating site.
“Women in bikinis in a hot tub adoringly hanging on a guy’s every word…” –Old Spice commercial.
The woman at the beach was commenting on the color of my skin. It’s common knowledge that sun kissed darker skin is popular, but I have always had pale skin. I believe that God made me just right, and that my skin color is unique and beautiful. In spite of that I have heard comments since I was a teen about my skin color. None of the comments have been kind, and I have received more criticism from women than men.
The man I spoke to from an online dating site was suggesting that I should date him because I am going to look older at some point and won’t be desirable enough for someone to choose.
I quoted the Old Spice ad verbatim. Just copied and pasted the text. I think it’s pretty clear that physical appearance is what is of value in that particular advertisement.
I have worked as a model, shooting for magazines, and acting in film and theater since I was a teen. I can only assume that I was often cast, in part, because of what I looked like. Looking a certain way awarded me power. I have noticed that if I am physically fit, tan, with long hair, I obtain a certain amount of attention and that gives me power. Power to get the job, power to get a man’s attention, power to make money – especially if a woman is working in the sex trade.
If I change my look, cut my hair, allow my skin to be pale, dress more conservatively, I notice a distinct difference in how I am treated. Sometimes that feels like we have lost power.
I’ve had boyfriends who wanted me to wear certain things, dye my hair a certain color. I even had one boyfriend buy me colored contact lenses!
I’ve had girls criticize the way I look, and make sure I know it. I have noticed that women were more likely to criticize my physical appearance than men were.
But the strongest voice of criticism, almost always comes from the woman herself. When was the last time you told yourself something about your physical appearance that was just plain mean? Would you dare to say the same thing to a friend? Probably not.
Vijayalakshmi had some closing thoughts about how we might view beauty.
“Inner grace is beauty. We have grace in how we live our lives. Is grace only about being soft and sweet? No… it’s also about boundaries and being aware of your strength. Not necessarily aggressiveness, but grace also includes other emotions. Being able to say no without raising your voice or picking up a gun is grace.”
What I loved about this speaker was that she shared about our inner character. Take some time today to write down three beautiful things about you. Make sure each of those three things is not related to your physical appearance.
“I am talented. I am thoughtful. I am courageous.” Those are my three things. Now it’s your turn! Stay beautiful!!
Contributing Writer, Two Wings