Too often as young women we are confronted with unrealistic ideals of beauty. One week bronzer and beach curls are in, the next our eyebrows must be on fleek and we should dye our hair gray. It is hard to keep up with whether booties are in and if high heels are too posh. Louboutin is always a good idea, but Michael Kors is no longer cool? What?
However, I have been realizing more and more that we should be focusing on different ideals of beauty. Yes, dress well, but spend the bulk of your energy on cultivating beauty elsewhere in your life. These beauty ideals stem from the questions: Who am I? What do I care about? What do I want people to see when they look at me?
It’s so easy to give cliché answers. Who am I? I am daughter, a sister, a co-worker, a girlfriend, a friend. I am a model, an entrepreneur, an actress, a business owner. What do I care about? I care about poverty, women, the global economy, the lack of literacy worldwide, the drought in California. I care about gas prices, getting a puppy, and what I’m going to make for dinner. But there are deeper answers I should be seeking. For me, it starts with seeing beyond the obvious answers of who I am, and beginning to look at who I am capable of being. What do I want people to see when they look at me? I want them to see…
Compassion. It is easy to get caught up in our crazy world and forget that we are not alone. I want to put others before myself, and learn to truly care about their needs. As women, we must train our minds to see others in their greatness and in their strife. We have the beautiful gift of nurturing abilities that can be used to better the world around us, if we only learn true empathy.
Humility. I am not perfect. But I am striving to do the absolute best that I can, and staying humble ensures that I am constantly improving. C.S. Lewis says, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Humility will keep us outwardly focused.
Grace. Someone once told me that boldness requires grace. For me that is a lofty goal. Grace encompasses forgiveness, calmness, and integrity. It means accepting others when it is hard, and forgiving yourself when you are not perfect. Grace leads to elegance, which is always beautiful.
Intellect. Anyone can be smart, but I hope that when people observe me, they see an educated, thoughtful woman. I hope they see someone who is wise, but also an avid listener and learner. We all have much to learn and much to teach; I hope that we can learn to share our knowledge with one another and embrace the teachings of others. Only then can we alter our perspectives and truly explore the possibilities of our intellect.
Sincerity. When someone finishes a conversation with me, I hope that they feel that I have been forthright and forthcoming. I hope that I have spoken my mind with truth and kindness. Too often women are manipulative and crafty. We are too good at playing games with our words. We must learn to say what we mean and mean what we say.
Joy. Happiness is fleeting, but joy is perpetual. I believe that joyfulness comes from gratefulness. As we go through our daily lives, we can exhibit an exuberance that draws people to us by learning to be grateful for the small stuff. People want to surround themselves with joyful, happy people. Let’s be those women!
Ambition. As women, we should strive to accomplish challenging goals. I want people to see in me an unstoppable force, someone who will change the world simply because she says she will. Ambition requires passion and persistence; it requires an insatiable appetite for success. Too often, ambition is seen as arrogance. That is not the case if you choose differently. My prayer is that you surround yourself with people who cultivate your ambitions, as this will only better our world as a whole.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a starting place. So this week, that’s my challenge for you: I hope that you can rock your Stuart Weitzman and your Free People whilst maintaining the ideals of compassion, humility, grace, intellect, sincerity, joy, and ambition. We're going to try to do the same.
Until next time,