“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.” -Mandy Hale
Examples of external beauty permeate the world around us, especially in the media. Magazines, movies, books, and pop culture are filled with endless images of what “appears” beautiful. Photos of women and men who have unattainably thin bodies, unblemished skin and who seem endlessly happy and ageless are everywhere. But these images don’t convey what is below the surface. Rather, the media’s superficial projection of “beauty” distorts the whole picture and fails to show us the most crucial elements that matter most such as personality, health, compassion and social/emotional intelligence.
It’s time to re-direct this approach and look deeply within. It’s clear we need to define a healthy attitude of what beauty truly is and teach this to younger generations. By being open, upfront and honest when addressing beauty and looks, weight and body image, we need to begin by looking inside first, outside last.
So what is beauty? And is it attainable? Where do we start when we look within? Is being kind, beautiful? What about genuine self-expression- including the sadness, controlled anger, or downright frustration- is that type of self- expression beautiful? These are all very subjective questions but the questions that are more relevant than ever when defining true inner strength and beauty.
So let’s start there. A person who is strong on the inside may not necessarily be depicted as beautiful, but why not? And maybe it’s time to relegate being kind and genuine in regards to self-expression (as long as it doesn’t hurt others) as the number one form of beauty. When you help out another individual or group, but not at your own expense, meaning you take care of yourself first, this is extreme beauty. Self- awareness and yes, strength and wisdom are definitely beautiful as is taking care of your body and developing a positive frame of mind and spirit. Beauty truly does radiate from within and is a reflection of confidence, health and happiness. And cultivating empathy and sensuality no matter what you look like are also extreme forms of beauty. Being beautiful is knowing who you are and cultivating a life that is emotionally and spiritually fulfilling.
And as we get older, aging gracefully and naturally is definitely beautiful. To paraphrase Vivian Diller, a former model and current psychologist who helps women understand themselves so they can look and feel their best as they age and the author of “Face It: What Women Really Feel As Their Looks Change” states, those of us in older generations who take the time and effort to serve as role models for the next generation and show that being attractive at midlife and beyond, is not just on the surface, helps deepen and broaden the meaning of beauty. These are men and women who aren’t overly attached to looking younger and younger as they age but rather exhibit poise and grace and look forward to the years that lie ahead. Their “strength and beauty is reflected proudly on their faces and bodies for all to see.”