What is Beauty?

Most of us pursue beauty, but do we even know what it is?  

I have lived most of my life very confused in my relentless pursuit of beauty as I exerted a lot of energy looking in all the wrong places. It seemed like a mirage in that I would see it, but once I got to it - it wasn’t there. It hasn’t been until the last few years that I am getting a sense of what it is and am coming to rest with it in myself. 

As I think about how to express what I am learning, it seems like the clearest pathway is to start by explaining what beauty is not.

Media seems bent on convincing us that beauty is all about the exterior, but is that true?  They show us these men and women that have beautiful hair, eyes, cheekbones, skin color, bodies, makeup, and clothing.  There is something that seems intuitive within us, that says, “That's beauty!”  I don’t assume I am alone in the message that follows which tells me, “If that is beauty than I am not.”  From deep within me comes this striving that says, “But I want to be.”  Without even realizing what is occurring in my subconscious, I wind up creating an imaginary checklist of what I must do to quench this longing within me to be beautiful.  It that looks something like this:

  • buy an outfit like that
  • look closely at her makeup and do yours like that
  • get color on your skin
  • show that picture to your hairdresser and have her cut your hair like that
  • get your eyebrows waxed
  • get to the gym and work out harder
  • figure out how to lose some weight

Before I know it, my heart is heavy, and I am reeling in shame, feeling as though a lot is wrong with me. Rather than beauty, I experience death as I turn the messages of shame in my head against those around me and bring about shame in them.  If I can nitpick them, somehow I think I won’t feel so bad about myself? That sound more like torture than beauty.

Since living in California, my appreciation for roses has greatly expanded as they grow all around me.  It seems to create a wonderful visual for what I am learning about beauty.  Unlike the roses that are produced in mass quantities for florists, these roses are huge, colorful, and each one uniquely different.  They aren’t cookie cutter, all trying to look like each other.  Rather they open up with a sense of vulnerability as they share their numerous individual petals, their fragrance, and their beauty with the world, regardless of who is watching.  In essence, they share the gift of who they are and who they were created to be not concerned with what anyone else will think. In doing that, their beauty draws others to stop and take bask in its creation . 

That is much like the beauty I am coming to rest with within myself.  

I am learning that beauty is not about the show I try and put on through my external appearance, but rather my willingness to open up and be vulnerable with myself, exposing and creating from who I am.  

As I am present with me, I experience, truth, life, and transformation.  

It produces a joy that radiates from deep within me and much like the rose; others seem drawn to take in the beauty of what is occurring from deep within.  

In contrast, the beauty the media compels us to - creates shame, but true beauty produces life and inspiration in its viewers.  One requires time, money, and vanity, the other simply takes presence, honesty, courage, and faith.  As I walk with this clarity, I see beauty all around me.  Beauty is in you, your spouse, your children, your friends, and the stranger you will meet today.  Would you share your encounters of beauty with us and offer us the gift of inspiration?

Julia Woods2 Comments