I've been captured by "Beauty", the scope of it in its purest form and the power of it in our culture, for most of my life. My 30 year career as a model and runway show producer is partially a result of that fascination and it enables me to speak from experience about this word from a personal, cultural and professional perspective. As I witness my own transformation with regard to beauty in the second half of life, I have the opportunity to share authentically the experiences of my life and business that may be transforming to others.
I was raised in a culture that gave well behaved women two choices in the game of life, be "pretty" or be "smart". One could not embody both, that would be too much power. So I chose pretty. My older brother had already laid claim to the starfield related to "smart" and was only too happy to remind me of the space in which I was allowed to orbit. This chance of birth and order would prove prophetic for me in the years to come and allows me to speak into the transformation happening in our culture today.
Beauty has power as both an experience and a cultural concept. As an experience, it can inspire, motivate, evoke love in the observer and even render us speechless. As a cultural concept, i.e. a perfectly produced fashion piece, styled by people like me with perfectly "retouched" models, it can invade our minds and leave us feeling inadequate, lost and not quite measuring up. Those of us who are in these professions are largely hoping to create a more beautiful, accepting world with our talents and art. But cultural concepts cost us dearly to maintain...our concepts of masculinity, femininity, sexuality, religion and what we call beautiful. But what of pure, raw beauty? We know it when we are in the presence of it....it astounds the senses, makes us smile, makes us fall in love. It is irresistible...a new puppy, a baby, a beloved, our child, an unedited and honest expression of tenderness, all of these things are stunning in their beauty and science tells us it changes our body chemistry in directions of health when we observe it. These raw forms of beauty also have vulnerability built into them, something those of us in the fashion world do our best to get rid of in search of perfection.
I love perfect. It's an addiction I acquired early in life in hopes of rendering my critics, my teachers, my parents, my employers and yes, my brother, powerlessness over me. But the cost of perfection eventually turns inward. Our attachments to concepts of beauty, rather than the observation of the beauty all around us, eventually collapse us into box of unreality and directs our aging brains to resignation rather than inspiration. Maybe the most beautiful part of beauty is being real.