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“I have also realized that looks have absolutely no correlation to the quality and the beauty of the life you create.” —Garance Doré from her book Love, Style, Life
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #102
A quote caught my attention last week as I was pouring through Garance Doré’s book Love, Style, Life, “The danger is that if you make beauty the focus of your life, you attract people who do the same.” Taken out of context, the quote can be interpreted many different ways, but for the sake of understanding her intent, she is speaking to physical beauty, the symmetry that few of us are born with, the genes that we can only possess as haphazardly as winning the lottery.
The construct of beauty, depending upon how and with whom we are raised can either serve as a builder or a deflater. Let me explain.
If we grow up in a family and a community that praises us for something we have no control over, as we are young, unlearned, trusting and naive, we instinctively do more of what is praised, similar to training a pup: spending more money on make-up, clothing, and seeking attention solely for how we look. After all, what would be the motivation to do something in which we would be given no support, diving into our studies, exploring our curiosities, if we haven’t developed the muscle to see the beauty in such a pursuit? The lower we are on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the more likely we are to continue doing what is certain, safe. But if we grow up in an environment that encourages the growth toward self-actualization, while acknowledging the power of presentation, but reverting its focus on development, growth and finding a peace to not only trust ourselves, and continue to grow intellectually, we are given the tools that put the ability to attain self-confidence squarely in our own hands. No approval necessary.
If we are fortunate enough to have experienced the latter childhood and young adulthood, we see that beauty is more than skin deep. We see beauty as something that is found in actions, behavior and confidence. We see beauty as something that increases as we age rather than dissipates as we grow wiser and more bien dans sa peau (well in one’s skin).
The fact that must be acknowledged is there is a reason we as humans are drawn to what aesthetically pleases us. Virginia Postrel includes in her essay “The Truth About Beauty” the reality is we as beings seek unconsciously, or maybe consciously for some, partners who are healthy and thus would appear to be fertile. Men seek out more feminine features as it signals higher levels of feminine hormones and visa versa for women seeking men, but while this is science, we also know that we live in a post-modern world. We seek more from our partners than just their genetic make-up. We seek thoughtful, worthwhile companionship, and such compatibility cannot be convened solely in a woman’s doe-like eyes or a man’s six-pack abs. We must dig deeper.
The depth of a tree’s roots determine its true strength and ability to stand strong in times of extreme turbulence. With that said, the depth of a tree’s roots are not something we can see on the surface. We cannot know if the roots have been forced to remain close to the surface thus not preventing it from withstanding a flood of water. Contrarily, we cannot know if the depths of the tree’s roots wind down and deep beyond what we could possibly fathom, but only appreciate after a severe blustery day.
The self-assuredness, the self-confidence we have cannot be founded upon what we present physically to the world alone. Because if we do, if all we do is invest in our skincare, invest in our wardrobe, invest in our exterior presentation to gain approval, compliments and attention, but can offer nothing else, the perpetual chase of what is deemed beautiful will forever have us chasing our tales and never leave us content.
In other words, if we only pursue superficial beauty, we will forever be insecure. Now being insecure can happen for other reasons as well, but the common ingredient for eradicating insecurity is to establish deep roots.
“The greatest natural enemy of women is insecurity. We all feel it and we all think we are the only ones who feel that way. How we deal with these fears determines to a great extent how effective we are in running our lives. Most women present a façade to the world and keep the insecurity locked inside. The toughest job in the world is to be a complete, happy woman.” —Diane von Furstenberg
How do we deal with the fears of insecurity? What exactly does building deep roots mean?
With regards to the topic of beauty, it means shifting the definition and the conversation. Women are not a piece of art to gawk at. If we happen to look stunning in the attire we have chosen, it is a decision for self-expression, it is a decision exuding our self-respect, it is a decision to engage people to further investigate and get to know the intriguing woman wearing the clothes. It is not the end of the conversation, but rather the introduction.
The difficult part of shifting the discussion is the shifting of the discussion we have in our own minds unconsciously. We must not feel defeated when a crop of zits pop up out of nowhere. Swap out zits for a wrinkle, or two or three. Swap it out for anything that is on the surface of who we are that we either cannot control or something that is temporary. We are more than a temporary bacterial flare up. We are more than wrinkle lines. Our words, our actions, our ease in loving the life we’ve created for ourselves, that is what people notice and remember. And for those people who are drawn to us for our words, actions and approach to life, those are the people we want to surround ourselves with.
Dressing well, having fun with fashion, being enamored with our home’s decor, these are absolutely passions of many of you, as well as myself. There is indeed a power that comes with creating a space that is inviting and an outfit that makes us feel our best. But each of these passions create the backdrop for us, the individual, the woman who now has after countless hours, months and years of investment, cultivated deep, strong roots, to shine. Because the exterior of who we are is merely an introduction to who we are entirely.
True Beauty is . . .
1.Knowing your worth
3. Kindness to all even if we have to tactfully share a truth that hurts
4. Strength found within
5. Embracing a life that does not follow, but rather adheres to what is calling you
6. Expressing love without expectation
7. A life of gratitude
8. Knowing life is always offering a chance to evolve
9. Acceptance of others
10. Self-respect without needing approval
12. Being who you were meant to be
“Because the thing is, whatever is given to you on the day you are born, you are the one who decides who you will become, every day. Beauty grows as we grow into ourselves.” —Garance Doré
Choose to grow into who you can become, not what you think you should become. Enjoy the journey of discovery. Revel in the unknown as you strive toward what is tickling your curiosities. Beauty is in many ways passion set on fire, and sometimes it may also need to include a pair of blinders to ignore the perplexed and the cynics. When you are completely lost in the living of your life, when you only have the wherewithal to appreciate the amazing things around you and applaud those who are engrossed in their own life’s passions as well, that is when your true beauty is alive and radiating to those all around you. And that, that is attention-getting, that is far more electric than a pretty, perfect painting that will be looked at once and then passed by (or sold at auction to hang stagnant on another wall).
Most important, when you are exuding true beauty, the attention the outer world pays you is irrelevant because your roots are deep.
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~Why Not . . . Become Self-Actualized? (podcast)
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