Words and pictures about writing, books, and life aboard a sailboat.
Monday, May 2, 2016
Beauty, and Other Powerful Words
Today's blog is part of the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest 2016. The blogfest is a fun, inspiring, and empowering event and I hope all my readers will stop by today or sometime this week to participate—there are valuable prizes galore, including a free manuscript evaluation from Jenny Redbug! Here is a link to the fest page: BOAW 2016
Last year, I posted a piece about the Language of Beauty, and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten so many comments on a blog post. I wrote about how much our society focuses on the external beauty of women, and how there’s so much more than appearance to every female human out there. Everyone applauded the idea of using words besides “beautiful,” “pretty,” and “lovely” to describe other women, and especially young girls.
Well, I’ve been working on it—trying to find other ways to express my love and support for my women friends, rather than buying into praising their “surface” appeal. On social media, I try to find more meaningful words to applaud their newest profile pic (“this photo of you really sparkles”), or the post about their weight loss (“you’re looking strong and healthy!”) or a new hairdo (“you’re so bold!”).
It’s been more than a social experiment for me—it has been a wonderful shift in my whole outlook on life. Words are powerful, and how we label what we see every day, people included, has a profound impact on how we think and feel about the world and ourselves.
Like most women my age (I’ll be 55 this month), I have spent my life defining men as strong, smart, and brave—women tend to get labeled as beautiful, or nowadays “hot” (or not). In trying to be aware of my words, and their real meaning, I find I’m much less likely to judge another’s looks, style, or body.
Now, when I watch TV or scroll through social media posts, I try to look beyond a woman’s (or man’s) obvious appeal, and see what I can find out about them as a human being. Are they upbeat or low—could they use a boost? Are they involved in causes I can help shed light on? Are they creating any kind of art they’d like to hear my feedback on? Are they working on their physical strength in any way, like walking or doing yoga? Praise for action speaks louder than praise for something you were born with, like good genes.
Naturally, this has affected my own “self-talk,” too. When I’m assessing my reflection in the mirror, I find myself thinking words like “strong,” “cheery,” and “energized,” rather than using all those tired comparisons to past reflections that cause me to focus on “imperfections” like wrinkles, sags, and bulges. After all, I don’t want others to see me as simply my physical body, so why should I focus my energy on it?
True beauty is so much more than smooth clear skin or shapely curves—it is attitude, courage, intelligence, and compassion. It is not just loveliness, but loving kindness. Inner beauty comes from a willingness to engage with the world; the generosity to reach out a hand to those in need, and to help those we interact with to see and achieve their best potential; and the ability to get back up when the world knocks us down. Using this criteria, rather than a bogus BMI, or a scale of 1 to 10, every one of the amazing women in my life is a real beauty.
I hope you enjoy the blogfest...and that you celebrate your beauty today and every day...