(Real) Beauty Tips!
Just recently, I was in a waiting room for an appointment, and decided to look through a magazine for women. You know, one of those women’s magazines that interviews popular people, gives relationship advice, fashion shoots etc. I flipped to a section entitled “101 Simple Tricks to Make You More Beautiful” or something like that. I was shocked by what I saw. Keep in mind that it’s been more than a couple of years since I’ve looked through a magazine like this. But seriously, has it always been this bad? I was shocked because not a single piece of “advice” was about beauty! It was all “pluck this”, “squeeze that”, “colour it”, “polish them”, “cut this”, “hide that”… and the bottom line was that in order to do these things we need to “BUY this”, “and this”, “and this”, “and this”, “and this” (repeat times infinity)! And even sadder, I realized that most magazines geared towards human beings (male and female) do nothing more than tell us to buy stuff. (Or lashon hara [slander/gossip], but let’s not digress.)
Don’t worry, I’m not going to go on a feminist tirade about the media. That’s not my style. It’s common knowledge that product developers will do anything to get us to buy their stuff. They have figured out that the easiest way is to sell something is to make human beings feel like they are “lacking” something in their lives by not owning said product. For women, the simplest and most effective way is to attempt to lower our self worth so we buy things to feel “better”. I understand this. Even though it’s immoral, it works.
And I know the solution to this is realizing that the media won’t sell what we don’t buy. Period. The responsibility is on us to make this change.
Again, not the purpose of this article. I just wanted to give a little background on what is inspiring me to write.
There is no shortage of “beauty tips” telling us how to change ourselves and buy stuff. But we all know deep down that this is not what true beauty is about. Our parents and mentors often tell us that beauty comes from the inside, but what does this really mean?! And how can we achieve this kind of beauty?
So here are some REAL beauty tips. I am at a point in my life where I can honestly say that I feel so beautiful, and it’s a wonderful thing, considering where I used to be in the past. These are all things that I have realized over the years, and I am going to address this to us ladies (because *cough* I am one… but obviously all of this applies to men as well.)
*Get Out of Your Abusive Relationship
If you had a friend that was stuck in a physically abusive relationship, you would do everything you can to help them get out of it, right?
It’s shocking and extremely sad how many of us are stuck in an abusive relationship with our bodies. We stare at the mirror in contempt. We bake and fry ourselves in the sun (or tanning beds). We feed our bodies horrible, processed, unhealthy food. We squeeze into clothes that are constricting. If this was a relationship between two people, we would feel compelled to intervene. We would say that this is abuse and do something in order to stop it… right?
Even more, many of us are ADDICTED to this kind of abuse. Yes, I used the “A” word. It’s true. We indulge in these behaviours just like an alcoholic indulges in their drink. Even worse, it almost seems trendy to show off this abusive relationship to others. Women often bond by sharing how much they hate their thighs almost as if we are competing to see who hates her body more.
Stop it, stop it, STOP IT! This has to stop. Get out of this relationship. Go cold turkey. Stage an intervention. Enforce rehab upon yourself. Do a twelve step program. I can’t tell you exactly how to do it, because everyone heals differently, but we must realize that this has to stop and do everything that we can to get away from this behaviour. The most important thing we must do is acknowldge that this is an abusive, addictive relationship, and we need to get out.
*Your Body is a Tool
A tool?! How can she say that after talking about abusive relationships?! Stay with me…
There is a plethora of “love your body” campaigns out there. On the flip side of the abusive relationship, we are also told to embark on a love affair with our bodies. We are told to pamper, indulge, surrender, baby and “treat” our bodies. Many would think that this is the answer to the abusive relationship. Why not turn hate into love?
This is actually the flip side of the exact same coin. The problem remains the same. There is something that all of us must realize and take to heart. Here it is:
You are not a body that has a soul. You are a soul that has a body.
Your body is a physical thing. It is not eternal or infinite like a soul. We often mistakenly think that our bodies are who we are, and this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Try thinking of your body like you think of a car. Yes, you shouldn’t abuse your car, but you also shouldn’t love it like you would another human being! A car is a tool that gets you from place to place. It is a tool that allows you to do good things (or bad… see the article Everything is Parve for more on this). It holds passengers and groceries. And eventually it gets old and dies… but if you take good care of it, it will last longer!
Your body is no different. YOU are not your body. Your body is a tool that has been given to you to do good things in this world. You were given your teeth to bestow kindness to the world through a smile (and eat good food!). You were given your eyes to see the beauty in all others. You were given your feminine parts to nurture life, and to create a loving, connected and fulfilling relationship with your soulmate. You were given your feet to get you places. You were given your hands to do mitzvot (good deeds).
Your body is a miracle of creation, but it is just a tool. Realize this, and treat it accordingly! Remember that you (the REAL you) are so much more than just a finite physical vessel.
This is a hard one, but it’s something that I’ve realized through a lot of soul searching so I’m happy to share some perspective.
We all know the clothes that make us feel most beautiful. These items are worn often and have remained in our closets despite changing trends. These are the clothing pieces that make us feel beautiful, feminine, and strong. They allow us to move and breathe. They flatter instead of constricting. When we wear them, we feel like we are our true selves.
But wait a minute. Didn’t I just say that our bodies and what we wear aren’t who we truly are?!
Yes, but our bodies and the clothes we wear are physical expressions of who we truly are. You are an infinite, loving, beautiful, giving, and connected soul. What clothes allow you to express this to the world?
Figure out the clothes you already have that allow you to express this. Some of us might be surprised to realize that we only have one item that fits this description! Nevertheless, keep this in mind during your next shopping trip. Ignore trends. You are infinite and beautiful whereas trends are disposable and generally ugly. Rediscover your own discerning eye, and listen to your inner voice. Strive to dress in a way that makes you connect with your true essence. If you try on something that doesn’t fit into this description, let it go. You may end up with less clothes, but your closet will represent who you truly are and who you want to become.
For me personally, figuring out what clothes I want to dress my soul in has been a long road. I have tried many things, so I will tell you a little about what I have come up with. Keep in mind that this is what works for ME! It most certainly doesn’t apply to anyone else (but you might find something that resonates with you… so try it out!) This is what makes me feel beautiful and expresses who I am:
I have found that I love material that drapes instead of squeezing. I love swishy skirts that are good for dancing. I love a beautiful dress that I can wear with a flattering sweater and belt. I love silky, ethnic patterns. I love colour. I love flats that I can walk in, but are still cute and feminine. I also love my hiking boots and running shoes. I love skirts that are wide enough for me to play the cello. I love gauzy button down shirts that allow me to keep my layers light. And of course, I love covering my hair in beautiful scarves.
These are the things that I have discovered work for me. For you, it might be totally different! You might feel most comfortable in your favourite pair of jeans. You might love wearing classic, structured cuts with pearls. Many women feel more beautiful wearing a sheitel (wig) instead of scarves like I do, and that is wonderful. You might love big jewellery. You might prefer neutral colours with looser cuts. You might like hats and sunglasses. Whatever it may be… find it, and make it yours.
*Aim to Be Attractive Instead of Attracting
We have already discussed how our bodies are not who we are, and our clothes should represent our souls. So this “beauty tip” has already been implied. We want to be noticed for our warmth, our grace, our smile, our intelligence and our depth. But we don’t need to be on display to everyone. True beauty is something that just… is. It can never be proven, and it doesn’t need to be shown off.
We don’t need to compete for attention. We don’t want our bodies and clothes to distract from who we truly are. You can be beautiful without shoving it in people’s faces. This is a general attitude that we should learn and it applies both to how we dress and how we interact with each other. There is enough room in this world for all of us.
(And a big thank you to my brother, who pointed out the Attractive vs Attracting difference when describing a woman that he admired.)
I’ve realized that I can’t trust myself to judge photos with me in them. It might be the same for you. If you read through this section and realize that you are also like this, enlist a trusted friend to help if you need to sort through photos. My husband once showed me a picture exclaiming, “this is the most beautiful picture I’ve seen of you!” I took a look at it and couldn’t believe him! My posture was awkward, my gums were showing, my face was shiny and my eyes were squinty. What was he talking about? “This is the first picture I’ve seen of you where you’re smiling from the heart, as if the camera doesn’t matter.” Oh.
Many of us live a life where we always feel self conscious of how we sound, how we look, etc. We have a constant “birds eye” view of ourselves, as if we are always on camera. This state of mind robs us of so much joy and connection. It’s the state of constantly over-thinking instead of being open to the experience that is currently taking place. It also detracts from our beauty. Now don’t get me wrong; having self awareness is an amazing thing. There is a difference between a conscientious person and what I’m trying to describe here. When a person is “posing” through life, others can really feel it. We can feel that when she hugs, she isn’t really connecting, and when she smiles, she’s worried about what it looks like instead of feeling truly happy.
We need to let go of this part of ourselves. Next time when someone is taking a picture of you, take your mind off the camera. Think about the person that you have your arm around and how lucky you are to know them. Think about the occasion that is taking place, and how grateful you are to be there. And smile because once you realize these things, it’s the only thing you can do.
*Do Things That Make You Radiate Happiness
We all know those people that are just… beautiful. It doesn’t matter what they wear, or where they are in life. They radiate a complete happiness and you just want to be around them to bask in their glow.
Many of us find people like this, and strive to emulate them. This is a great idea. Often these people have discovered things and can give advice that will help others realize their own happiness. And even if this person can’t articulate exactly how and why he/she is happy, at least you feel happy just being around him/her!
Keep hanging around these people. But take it a step further. Take some time to search deep inside yourself and find the things that make you truly happy. What are the things that make you come alive? What activities do you LOVE doing? What brings you out of a rut? Discover what these activities are. They might surprise you! I have a friend who gets intense pleasure from seeing others eat food, especially food that she has cooked herself. I know someone else that loves sharing her favourite music with others. A good friend of mine loves fighting for causes or human beings that are being treated unfairly by others. Another loves solving complex mathematical problems. And another loves organizing things in order to be more productive (her stuff, as well as others!) I know a person who has dreams of making billions of dollars so he can put the money in places that need it most. Others love to help enable people (a secretary that loves scheduling others, a volunteer at a homeless shelter, a taxi driver, a real estate agent). I know many people that love deep learning and debating. Others love writing. Others love teaching.
Fill your life with these things. As much as possible.
And if you are at a point in life where you think that you can’t make time for these things, try to take a step back. Realize that we make time for that which is most important to us. Make happiness a priority and realize that happiness doesn’t have to take time. It’s not something “out there” that is waiting for you. It is available to you NOW! Many of these ideas don’t take much time at all. I personally love to look at people as I pass them on the street or on the bus, and take the time to really meditate on the infiniteness of every human being that I see. This makes me happy. I also love to make a mental list of all things that I am grateful for. When you realize that the only thing that is keeping you from being happy is… you, then you can let yourself experience it right now.
And as an added bonus, you will radiate beauty.
*Realize Your Own Potential to Change Someone’s Life
I will make this section very short. I once had someone give me a genuine smile, and it changed my whole day, my whole life! It brought tears to my eyes. I felt like I had finally been “seen” and appreciated. And I will never forget it.
We all have the ability to do this. Do it. Do it as often as you can. The world needs it more than anything else. Reach out to others. Give.
And you will find that nothing else makes you feel more beautiful.
So I would love to know…
What are your REAL beauty tips? What makes you feel the most beautiful? And please write about someone you know that is truly beautiful. What makes him/her this way?