True beauty lies within

Some people say that ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ but sadly, most of us will undoubtedly agree that beauty is in the eye of society! The image of a beautiful woman has varied down through the years and varies in different cultures. During Elizabethan times in Europe, in order to fall into the ‘beautiful’ category, a woman had to be blonde, pale and voluptuous, whereas today it seems to be tanned, blonde and stick thin. Some women feel compelled to put their bodies through absolute misery in order to alter their shape and change their features to match what society now calls BEAUTIFUL. Now we have to cover up in makeup, starve our bodies to the extreme and go under the knife to keep a youthful looking face. All of these things are harmful to the body – clever ‘packaging and advertising’ can ‘legally’ alter the names of some of the chemicals used in make up or cosmetic surgery or diet products, so that we feel somewhat safe using them or going through a process. Yet if we really knew the longterm effect would we do it? Or, as a society, have we become so vain that we would do it anyway, in order to ‘look good’, irrelevant of the long-term consequences on the body?

Due to a serious epidemic of low self-esteem, advertising now tells us what is beautiful and what is not! Whether we realise it or not, the power in defining beauty has been taken away from us, something that we need to take a stand on sooner rather than later. Products are advertised all around us, repeatedly telling us that something in our life is missing, something that we simply must buy or have done to our bodies. Stop up a second. Close your eyes, paint a mental picture of yourself standing in a field of wild flowers…breathtaking, isn’t it? You would not change a thing; you just know that this is the epitome of BEAUTY. However, if someone pointed out to you that underneath all those beautiful flowers there was millions of bugs and creepy crawlies crawling around, that there were loads of weeds in the middle of the flowers and that if you brushed off some of those flowers that you would get a rash – it changes the perspective! Is it as simple as changing your mindset? 

When you look for beauty in life, you see it everywhere, on the other hand, if you look for ugliness that is all that you will see. If you constantly batter yourself about your weight or your wrinkles, then you will never be able to appreciate all the beautiful things about yourself. I can honestly say that every woman that I have ever met is a real beauty.

Sitting in a room full of parents recently, discussing the future of our children in rugby, I did what I normally do – I’m never ‘just present’, I soak up the entire room. The husbands or partners were also there but I’m just going to talk about the girls! Every woman in the room had at least one 16-year-old boy – do the math and you will get the age range of all of those women. What struck me was the intense beauty of all of them and how it came across was through their intelligence, how interested they were through shining eyes, the level of support, their passion, challenging (in the best possible way) and debating for the best possible outcome…it was the ‘alive-ness’ in these women that struck me. Some of us had dresses on, some in jeans and some in gym gear…all moms and therein lies the beauty of it all. No competing, no one person trying to outdo the other as, sadly, is so often the case. No two body shapes were the same – isn’t this something that we should be celebrating, praising even? Why do we not have a problem telling our daughters that they are beautiful yet we can sometimes struggle to see the beauty in ourselves? Do we need to coin a new definition of beautiful? How much energy does obsessing about our shape or the ageing process sap from so many women when we should be taking every opportunity in life to smile and have fun. We all know only too well that no one escapes dark days or tragedy, that life is short and we never know what tomorrow has in store for us. So why waste precious time today trying to jam yourself into a box that isn’t for you and was ultimately created to MAKE MONEY FROM YOU. Shakespeare said ‘beauty is bought by the judgement of the eye’. A lot of people cave into beauty as being a thing they look at, as beauty is something that brings their eyes happiness. To me, Beauty is the promise of happiness. So many forget the importance of ‘being’ a beautiful person, being kind, thoughtful, helpful, discreet, making someone smile and being supportive always.

 The true power of being beautiful lies in inner beauty and a good stylist will work with that rather than trying to change a person into the ‘stereotypical’ beauty type. Make up does not emphasise who we really are, in fact, it is a way of hiding ourselves and a true interpretation of insecurity especially if you are coming from a place where you are unhappy about how you look or you want to hide something. Confucious once said ‘Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see it’. Together, we can all make a conscious decision to see it in everyone. Hopefully some day I will be someone’s granny, I want to look like a granny, not a startled-looking fake woman without a wrinkle in sight and I want to be able to give a real granny hug and have a soft belly and a more wobbly bum. We should all want that and be ever so happy to reach that stage in life.

‘I’ve never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful’. 

Louise O'Dwyer

Louise O'Dwyer is an Image consultant based in West Cork

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