Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Declining the Beauty Invitation

What is beauty?

I was raised to understand that beauty was internal - the light that shines from your eyes and the personality that draws others to you. Of course, that didn't stop me from, at one time or another, believing I wanted to be a model when I grew up - so glamorous - such an exciting lifestyle.

Years later, I have a much more mature outlook on beauty. Yes, there are times I wish I had been 'blessed' more, but I understand now that beauty is, first and foremost, subjective. What I find physically beautiful does not always register with what others believe to be physically beautiful. And what I deem beautiful in personality, in maturity, in mien does not always correlate to others' definition of beauty. And heaven forbid we forget just how much those magazine covers are touched-up before they go to print.

It has taken me a long time to understand and accept that, not only will certain things about myself, physically, never change to what the 'accepted' norm for beauty in our society is, but also that there is no real 'accepted' definition of beauty because it is, in fact, all subjective. And the stronger my voice is for acknowledging this absence of a steadfast norm, the more accepting of myself am I, as well as a good lesson and model for my students.

So, why the blog post on beauty?

Lately, on social media, there seems to have been a ridiculous surge in beauty products that 'will help me feel beautiful and reach the standard of beauty for which I've been striving' (my quotes are more sarcasm than any advertising). And it hasn't been just one or two independent sales reps who have been trying to make money on the side - I get that. I'm a public school teacher. There have been times I've considered becoming a consultant for one thing or another in order to make money, especially during the summer months.

But I've been included in, without permission requested, two groups for various wraps, groups for various beauty products, groups for exercise regimens, etc. I followed a woman on Instagram because we seemed to have the same interests. She has two young sons near the age of my son. She is active in her life and offers tips for the working Mom. It made sense that, considering all we had in common, I make that connection. But then she started pushing her private business more than posting her daily life. It began to feel like I was scanning through an online infomercial rather than seeing her life as a mother of boys. So, I unfollowed her. Why should I deliberately accost myself with her advertisements when I have the power to eliminate them?

I went on a 'cleaning spree' at that moment, and unfollowed another mother who was doing the same thing. And then I went to Facebook and disengaged myself from the various groups who had drafted me without my acknowledgment. Within 5 minutes, one of those groups added me back in, again without asking if I wanted to be part of it.

Here's the deal - I don't want to be part of it.

I am, by MY standards, not gorgeous. I am, however, beautiful. I am loving and accepting and loyal. I take care of myself as best I can with what I have and am determined not to live outside my means to suit what is currently in style just to fit in with society or to make myself more beautiful. I have a delightfully precocious and entertaining son, a loving husband, a job that keeps me on my toes and an active life that involves all of these aspects. I do not have extra time or money, or energy for that matter, to dedicate to wraps and creams and peels and anything else that makes me feel unworthy.

So, I'm fighting back. I am enough.

I applaud anyone who wishes to participate in any of these endeavors. But only if you're doing this for yourself and not because of peer pressure or guilt or generally feeling unworthy. Because you're not.

You're not unworthy. You're beautiful. It takes all kinds to make this world the glorious mix that it is. I felt that we were moving in the correct direction recently - that the airbrushing was being made known, and that body image issues were coming to light. And then this surge hit. And I want everyone to know that it matters not what you think is wrong, because you are right. You are beautiful.