- Youth is considered the only beauty, and older willing are willing to kill for it.
- Women should be willing to trade everything they possess for a man to solve their problems.
- Youthful beauty is the only tool in which to ensnare these men.
Thankfully, my professor was incredibly creative, and she allowed me to rewrite several famous fairy tales, bringing about a more realistic and empowering story to young girls, rather than simply drafting yet another 'rage against the machine'. In her own way, my professor was able to empower me to do just what she had hoped the heroines in the stories would do: find their own solutions to the problems facing them, in a creative and alternative manner.
Needless to say, I did not ban fairy tales from my home, when I became a mother. But, this course, taken years earlier, did teach me the inherent dangers that do lie in exposing our daughters to too much of an onslaught to their self-esteem. As I began to grow older myself, I began to wonder "Am I still attractive?", "Do I still feel beautiful? and "What does beauty really mean?". Feeling lovely, inside and out, is very important to most women. A healthy dose of self-esteem in one's appearance can boost morale, which can boost confidence in work and in life. A women who feels beautiful can also feel that she has the chutzpah to ask her boss for a raise, to feel confident in taking that vacation she's always dreamed of, or even to start her own business. Feeling beautiful doesn't mean looking like a Super model. How many of us are 6' tall and weigh 115 pounds? Not many. And, yet, feeling beautiful in how you appear to others, and most important, what you see when you look in the mirror, can be extremely important. How we feel on the outside can reflect how we feel on the inside....and the converse is also true. How many times have you met a woman, who may not look like Christie Brinkley, but who exudes such loveliness, she radiates?
Two of the women who, I believe, most exemplify this idea are Dame Judi Dench and Queen Latifah. It is my humble opinion that they are two of the most beautiful women I can imagine. Dame Judi Dench has the most wonderful style. She is not afraid of her age. She embraces it and uses her wisdom, her wit, her courage and her vast intelligence to her advantage. No "Wicked Aging Queen" for her! She is the epitome of a stylish, savvy and exceptional one. And, a very beautiful one at that. Dame Judi Dench has made over 40 extremely chic. She has helped to redefine youth not being the measuring stick of beauty.
Additionally, Queen Latifah has broken down so many barriers. She is not the first African American Cover Girl, but she certainly is the first plus size one. Do her curves detract from her undeniable allure? Absolutely not! They enhance her aura of glamour. Queen Latifah's talent is evident in every syllable she utters, on every red carpet she walks, and in her beautiful laugh. In her performance in "Chicago', she was appearing with two stunning female co-stars, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellwegger. All three women had very different styles and all three gave amazing performances. Yet, Queen Latifah's curves, and comfort within those curves, gave me a sense of such dynamic beauty that defied the conventional definition.
As I've grown older and wiser, the story of "Beauty and the Beast" has become clearer to me, in my own understanding. I can take the fairy tale at face value. Or, I can dig deeper to see that, for many of us, the Beast is not a monster that will turn into a Handsome Prince, if we only kiss him. The Beast can also be what lies within us....our own foibles, our own fears, the blockages we put in to sabotage our own self-esteem. The Beast, in my case, can be looking in the mirror and only seeing my thighs. The Beast, for others, could be seeing a different face than the one we viewed twenty years ago. The Beast can be everything we don't like about ourselves, inside and out.
And, yet, we can tame the Beast that lies within. We can find the beauty that only comes from experience, from the giving of ourselves to others and to finding the wisdom that lies within us. We can exercise, eat healthfully, and dress our bodies in ways that best suit our lifestyle. We can smile more, and frown less. We look for the beauty in the world around us, in our families and friends, in inspiring books and organizations and in nature and art. As we look for beauty, we can find that we reflect it, as we are at this very moment, no matter what our age, color, size, shape or physical attributes.
Beauty is, as beauty does. Don't allow 17 year old runway models to define your definition of beauty. Create your own definition and run with it.