Monday, February 23, 2015

Beauty of a Woman Blogfest 2015: The Language of Beauty

Today's blog is part of the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest 2015; here is a link to the fest page: This is a wonderful event and I hope all my readers will stop by today or sometime this week to participate—there are valuable prizes galore, including one from Yours Truly!

The Language of Beauty
Why is it that we always refer to fabulous women as "beautiful"? Isn't there a better word to honor true inner beauty? Why are words like "strong" and "healthy" and "intelligent" so often seen as a back-handed compliment—the equivalent of the famous blind-date compliment, "she has a great personality"?
I recently saw a Hollywood movie where the female star was introduced to a young girl who would become her adopted grand-daughter. The first thing she said to the girl—who was, of course, very cute—was "Aren't you beautiful? Do you know how beautiful you are?" as if that was the pinnacle of  achievement for a little girl.
We've all heard about the shameful treatment (in a newspaper I won't dignify by naming) of the late, and oh-so-talented author Colleen McCollough, when this line was printed in the first few sentences of her obituary: "Australia’s best selling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth."
Wait, what? Seriously?!
What in blazes does being "overweight" or "plain" have to do with this woman's real life—and the pleasure that she brought to millions of readers? Would that this episode had been the first of its kind—we can only hope it will be the last.
But, I admit, I have been too often guilty of referring to my many bright, talented, incredible women friends as "beautiful." Why do I say guilty? Because when I join the legions of people who see women as primarily (sometimes solely) physical packages, to be judged as meeting or not meeting someone's specifications of "beauty," then I'm part of the problem.
Yes, it's hard to see a woman friend's picture on Facebook and not want to say that they are beautiful or lovely to look at, but I'm going to try hard to think of other words to use. I'm going to try to look past their attractive surface and come up with other words—words that pay homage to the many facets of beauty that powerful bright women share. Assets like generosity, loving-kindness, caring, self-respect and respect for others, insight & intuition, and so many others...
Hmm...I may still use the word beautiful when I refer to women, especially those who may not seen by the surface-obsessed world as traditionally beautiful, though—if I feel moved to...Rules, after all, are made to be broken.
hasta pronto!


  1. Such excellent points here, Jennifer!

    I use "beautiful" a LOT to describe women, and men, actually -- but to describe inner-beauty. What's on the outside is our aesthetics, and while it's important to embrace our unique looks (or, at least not to shame them), real beauty has nothing to do with them - IMHO. :)

    Thanks so much for participating!

  2. I use "beautiful" to describe both inner and outer beauty. But when I use it to describe inner beauty, the word "beautiful" has a kind of reverence. I should also think of a different word to describe someone's outer appearance. Good post, Jenny. And how lucky you are to live on a sailboat. Now THAT's beautiful! :)

  3. I love the idea of looking for other adjectives to describe someone beyond beautiful. We all want to be "seen" for who we are...our special talents.

  4. I sometimes think labeling a young girl as beautiful (physically) can hamper her from developing her inner strength and talents. Society tends to reward outer beauty, without regard for what's inside. It's up to all of us to raise strong girls who are so gorgeous on the inside that it radiates from their core.

  5. Very thoughtful post on beauty. I like the idea of expanding its meaning as your post does. Thank you.

  6. Great post! I will think of you next time a Facebook friend changes their profile picture, and I'll compliment them on something other than (or besides) their outer loveliness.

  7. Judging people has more to do with first impressions and sizing people up, so I am surprised and horrified by McCullough's obit. Appearance is always left out of the ones I've read.

  8. I few months ago there was a post going around about how the word 'beautiful' is over used and put on a pedestal in our culture. Not everyone is funny or compassionate or handsome or witty. So why does everyone have to be beautiful? Why not go with the term 'worthy'? I think it is great to strive to be worthy.

  9. I rarely use the word beautiful to describe another woman. I hadn't realized that until I read this post so thanks for that. Lovely, honest, strong are more likely adjectives that I'd use. Interesting. I'll have to think about this some more.

  10. Great post! It's so ingrained in society to think a woman's greatest asset is her physical appearance. And if she isn't thin and doesn't meet the criteria for beautiful that she somehow is lacking. I'm definitely going to rethink my initial reactions to pictures and try to use other adjectives to describe women. :)

  11. Physical beauty is hard to ignore. It's beautiful, after all, but using other words to describe a woman is crucial to helping us all to recognize our real worth. Jennifer, you are warm, engaging, and a treasured friend. I also think you're a very smart cookie!

  12. I use many adjectives when talking with my ten year old daughter. Strong, daring, smart, funny, kind, funny, beautiful, brave, agile....

    Beautiful is in there but it's only part of the whole.

    For me, when I use that word, I'm referring to all of someone's soul or spirit - what shines through their eyes, their actions, their manner...

    Very thought-inducing post.

  13. Love this post! I thank my mom every day for instilling in me that beauty starts from the inside. I remember watching a tv show once where I thought one of the female characters was hideously ugly. I never understood why my friends found her so gorgeous...until her character became a nicer person. It wasn't until then that I was able to get past the ugliness of her behavior to see the external beauty she possessed.

  14. For decades beauty pageants have been held in attempts to discover the world's most beautiful woman and put her in the public eye.
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