18 May 2011

They Are Beautiful and So Are You.

'woman's portrait'. © 2007, manu diana. - CC

Some time ago, I posted a list of life questions, and one of them dealt with beauty. A few of the comments struck a chord with me and made me think about how we define 'beauty', and 'being beautiful'.

I find myself surrounded by beautiful people, yet if you would ask most of them if they consider themselves beautiful, they would say no. Too often we confuse beauty with other ideas like 'young', 'skinny', 'curvy', 'desirable', 'wearing make-up', 'dressed up', etc.

Somehow, along the way, we have come to accept this new, narrow definition of beauty. We've even invented phrases like 'being beautiful on the inside', with an unspoken 'instead' underneath.

Yet languages are living entities. The meaning of words evolves over time to suit people's needs. Our needs.

'Portrait of Villager, Jongkhar'.
© 2009, RadioFreeBarton. - CC
I want to play an active part in saving the word 'beautiful' from limited and one-sided interpretation.

Let us reinvent that powerful and uplifting word to suit the needs of real women, of all ages, shapes and colour.

I believe we can give a nudge in the right direction by stopping to play ourselves down and presenting a wider variety of images to the world, showing a richer, more diverse and much more interesting interpretation of 'beauty'.

After all, we are a diverse species, and that's a wonderful thing. What a shame it would be if we and the generations to come would lose the ability to see that.

To illustrate my point, here are a few more photographs of absolutely fabulous, beautiful women:

'mummy'. © 2009, modenaroid. - CC

'Lena, informal portrait, part 2'. © 2007, Max Khokhlov. - CC

'A beautiful old lady'. © 2007, Pedro Ribeiro Simões. - CC

'Alegría'. © 2009, Aprendiz de Amélie. - CC

'Talisman Singer'. © 2009, Elliot Margolies. - CC

'Knowing Smile'. © 2006, Meena Kadri. - CC

'my beautiful wife'. © 2007, Gregory Perez. - CC

'Artist Rosey Edgar'. © 2008, Michelle Richmond. - CC

'Future Doctor'. © 2005, Charlie O'Shields. - CC

'Yadi'. © 2007, Melissa Segal. - CC

'Margaret'. © 2009, Richard. - CC

'Portrait'. © 2007, R Sears. - CC

'Untitled Portrait #2'. © 2008, Roger Moffatt. - CC

'indian old days beautiful woman'. © 2008, LatinaPower2009. - CC

'Ginger and green'. © 2011, ben raynal. - CC

'Sometimes Monika says that she doesn't feel very pretty'. © 2009, Christopher Walker. - CC

'Erin'. © 2005, Caitlin Burke. - CC

'How to Conquer Europe with one smile'. © 2009, Eddy van 3000. - CC

'Portrait'. © 2008, spaceodissey. - CC

'Eyesight In Distance (9FH)'. © 2009, Andy Leddy. - CC

'She is my love'. © 2008, Luigi Anzivino. - CC

'Mum!'. © 2004, Charles Roffey. - CC

'Awa summer'. © 2006, Nicolas Rivet. - CC

'Juste moi !'. © 2007, Jessie Romaneix. - CC

Who is the most beautiful person you know, besides yourself?
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  1. Lots of beautiful women here. My two favorite pictures are of Margaret and Ginger. There's just something about those green eyes and freckles. Awesome post!

  2. What a powerful post, K.C. This is a topic I have explored over and over again. I even wrote an essay called "I'll Never Be Miss America" which addresses this. These photos are awesome and truly show how there can never be one definition of beauty because there is beauty in all and we are all so diverse.

  3. Lovely post. Some great faces there. There is something to be said for inner beauty, though. And my grandmother was a beautiful woman. One of the smartest women I've ever known.

  4. Lots of lovely ladies.....I always say look at the eyes first. The most beautiful woman I have ever known was my mom.

  5. A first i'd like to say thank for your choice my pic of a woman used in your blogspot, as my pics uploaded in flickr is agree to share evryone in everywhere, of course it should be linked back to my flickrstream footnoted the copyright from mine, that's all. finally it's so happy for my interesting look at various beautiful women over the world at your selection
    Best Regards
    Andy Leddy

  6. Lovely post, K.C. - I couldn't agree more with your sentiments. The most beautiful woman I knew was my mother, right until she died a few days after her 80th birthday.

  7. @Angela: yes to green eyes and freckles :-)

    @Karen: thanks, and it was actually one of your comments that sparked this post. :-)

    @L.G.: there is, in a way, but I find it difficult to make a distinction between outer and inner beauty. To me they're not separate things. I can't consider a person 'beautiful' if there isn't that spark, if they don't have a vibrant, beautiful soul shining through their eyes. It's probably semantics, though. :-)

    @mybabyjohn: me too. Eyes can tell so much. My rational side can't grasp what it is, but there's something in people's eyes I respond to on another level. Maybe it's more about subtle clues in the face in general that are picked up by our emotional supercomputer?

    @Andy: thank you so much. It's a wonderful picture!

    @Rosemary: thank you, and I'm sure you take after her. :-)

  8. A beautiful post indeed! I have just stumbled upon you and your blog and I will definately visit again to read more. I particularly like your profile 'analytical emotional creature' - i think that is me too! There is a great passage about beauty in The Twits by Roald Dhal which I have quoted http://katesunshinyday.blogspot.com/2011/04/dont-be-twit-be-beautiful.html

    Anyway nice to meet you and i look forward to seeing you again! Have fun, Kate.

  9. @Kate: great to meet another analytical emotional creature! :-) I think you'll meet a few more of them hanging around here. :-)

    Great Roald Dahl passage in that post of yours!

  10. the problem is that we live in a world which makes us insecure and which develops a lot of issues in us from childhood. That's why so many beautiful people don't think they are beautiful. And I will be immodest and say I belong in that category too :)
    This is why, as a psychologist and an ex teacher, I always try to give compliments to people, because it's just a word to us but it can mean a whole world to the one who receives it.
    A beautiful post, KC!

  11. Fantastic post, K..." if they don't have a vibrant, beautiful soul shining through their eyes" ah yes, that does it for me - everything else is secondary. The most beautiful people (men & women) that I have met, had something there in their eyes that made the other physical attributes secondary..truly one's soul speaks through the eyes.

  12. What wonderful portraits. You're so right -- beauty is not the exterior, it's what's inside and how we show ourselves to people through our actions.

  13. @DEZMOND: so true. It's so hard to overcome a belief that's been ingrained since childhood. Your comment made me realise I don't often give compliments. Well, I do to my husband, but not nearly enough to the other people around me.
    Thanks for reminding me! :-)

    @anne: thanks, and I love how you put it: 'made the other physical attributes secondary'. That rings very true to me.

  14. @Talli: I read an article some time ago (can't remember who wrote it but it was a doctor / medical specialist of some kind) who drew parallels between a person's inner health and what people seem to perceive as beauty.
    Quite a literal way to understand 'beauty is what's inside', but an interesting thought for sure. :-)

  15. More power to you, KC - it takes someone who's secure and fulfilled within themselves to be able to appreciate people who are different from them.

    Would be great to see more evidence of this from more people.

    Great post!

  16. @D.U.O.: thank you so much for those wonderful words. They mean more than I can say. I don't feel secure and fulfilled most of the time, but that's not entirely bad I think. ;-)

  17. This is my first visit to your blog and I love this post. Thank you for speaking from the heart and for the lovely photos. Beauty is all around and sometimes we just need to open our eyes and see without judgement but with the heart instead.

  18. Great post! I loved the pictures and the message. I'd say that my mom is beautiful.

  19. This is an excellent point that you're making but the biggest enemy to changing views is the media. Why is it that men can appear on our TV screens whatever they look like and yet women have to be good to look at and woe betide them if they develop a few wrinkles? They're dropped from the schedules. If the media (including glossy magazine) could only change their views then the rest would follow.

  20. @Kari Marie: I think you're touching on a very important point there: seeing without judgment. I'm not sure that's altogether possible for human beings, because our first impressions help us to make sense of the world around us. But there are different kinds of judgment, and we can suspend many of them and open our eyes, if we're willing to put in the effort.

    @Sarah: thank you, and again: most of us tend to take after our mums, one way or another. :-)

    @Rosalind: that might actually be one of the areas where we can make a difference, by offering more diverse images, role models, characters, ... in our writing and on our blogs.
    We have the freedom to show and experiment with views and see whether or not they attract an audience.

  21. They are all beautiful. All these plastic looking folks on Tv and the like lately disturb me. What's wrong with aging? It happens to everyone.

  22. It's in the eyes, isn't it? Each of the strikingly beautiful women in the pictures you've displayed seem to tell the viewer that they know themselves. What others think of them is secondary to the confident acceptance of themselves.
    You must have done some extensive research to find all of these pictures. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  23. @Gail: I've been asking myself why I triggered on these pictures and what they have in common, and 'confident acceptance of themselves' might very well be the key. Thanks! :-)

  24. I love this post and your message behind it - all women are beautiful. We should celebrate our differences and uniqueness.

    Ellie Garratt

  25. Wow, this is a really touching post! Thank you for posting it; I'm it did a lot of good to the people reading it.

    I think the most beautiful woman in the world is my sister.

  26. Ellie: I totally agree! :-)

    Teralyn: I hope it did. :-)


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