Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Beauty Treatment

A friend of mine did not feel beautiful. In fact, she sounded like she felt she was losing the Shrek-alike contest. She’s struggling with weight, health and exercise along with the usual skin, hair and fashion maintenance that most of the women I know have. I felt bad for her. I struggle with all those things, too. The worst part was that she did not feel beautiful.

That’s really the trick for women and beauty, though. Your sweetie can tell you that you look fine, just fine, or even beautiful, gorgeous, fabulous, bright, anything at all and if you don’t believe it, it falls into the category of feeble attempt.

What does beautiful feel like?
I ask because it’s something women want to feel, not just my friend, but lots of women. Sure, we talk about letting go of the well-sold market gap that is the vast gulf between what we see in the mirror and famous beauties. Nope, I look at the mirror and mutter, I don’t look like Nicole Kidman or Ann Hathaway, unless you count the two eyes, two ears, a nose and a mouth thing. That generally means I look like George Burns or Lyle Lovett, too, so it’s not enough.

We talk about letting inner beauty glow through to make us beautiful. It seems like a consolation prize answer, like being known for your good sense of humor instead.

I look back at my pictures from high school, not too often, thank goodness, and remember that I thought I was fat, awkward, uncoordinated and unattractive at the time. I especially love the contrast between this feeling and the photo they took for the yearbook for the gym class student leaders. I’m on the gym floor at the bottom of the group of lovelies, doing the splits, just because I could, and smiling with momentary confidence.

That was it really. It wasn't about feeling beautiful. It was feeling confident. It was the absence of need for reassurance. It was feeling “enough” whatever that meant. I was just a kid, awkward like anyone else. I was too big on top and perennially embarrassed to be looked at. The boys my age usually addressed my chest when talking to me, if they talked to me. I remember while posing for the picture that they’d better hurry up before I died smiling and split. I didn’t think about feeling beautiful or not. I love that picture.

Later, in my twenties I lost weight, really lost weight. I got down to a svelte size 2. I bought clothes. I looked fabulous and I knew it. It was one of the unhappiest times of my life. I had filed for divorce after two years of insomnia and complete loss of appetite. I had moved out and was grateful that I could pay my own bills with my job. Suddenly, men who never paid the least bit of attention to anything I said were hanging on my every word, apparently hoping to hang onto more. I was heartsick at the concept and shallowness of beauty. Suddenly, I was an object of beauty, just as foreign and dehumanized as I had been when I had been an invisible heavy person. This may have been feeling vengeful but it wasn’t feeling beautiful.

I have pictures of me from that time too. Objectively, for me, it was the pinnacle of my own beauty compared to the cultural standard. I love looking at those pictures too but I’m well-aware that I was unhappy, self-destructive to the point of addictive behavior, although thankfully it wasn’t alcohol or drugs. I was addicted to risky behavior, to thrill-seeking, to saying things just to provoke responses from others. It was the interpersonal equivalent of cutting myself just to see what I felt.

One of the people who worked with me years later saw one of the pictures of me in my “man-eater” phase.

“You were a beautiful woman,” she cried in outrage in her best Ukrainian-accented English. “What happened? Why did you let yourself go?”

My teammates shifted in discomfort at the rude but honest question. My co-worker stood waiting for an answer, unaware of the social faux pas or ignoring it out of honest curiosity.

“Insulation,” I smiled cryptically, giving the most honest answer there was. I had figured out how to feel beautiful.

I just got back from giving a friend a pedicure. I'm not very good at it. But the doctors don't give her very long to live. We soaked her feet, did a sea salt scrub, then had a foot and hand massage with some organic herb cream, then remove the old polish, emery board to short and straight the way she likes them and finally nice new polish. I talked about family and work and other everyday stuff; she mouthed her answers because the tracheotomy doesn't allow her to vocalize any more. When we were done, she wrote me a note on a piece of paper towel, "What a nice journey, Marcia".

In Tarot, the Queen of Cups is the queen of love. She is receptive mature energy reflecting the essence of love and spirit. We so often equate love and beauty, that we often mistake one for the other. To be beautiful is to be loved; to be loved is to be beautiful. The Queen of Cups understands that the real beauty is in love itself and love can only be truly enjoyed if given away. In her worst view, she is a drama queen, demanding adoration and attention from all, insatiably and eternally empty, a black hole into which many can sink all their affection and regard and find, to their dismay, that it’s never enough. At her best, she knows that to be the queen of hearts, she must give love. Otherwise, she will be an empty cup, never full, never enough, never feeling right about herself.

If you can find someone to give even the simplest of things to, even an inexpert beauty treatment but most importantly your time, I guarantee you will feel beautiful. I do.

Best wishes.


PS -- This just in! Theresa Reed, The Tarot Lady, just posted her Talkin' Tarot column, talkin' with me! Thanks!!

1 comment:

  1. Lovely. Really. And this ability to give of yourself, be vulnerable, and recognize true value in life demonstrates that you are, in fact, beautiful. And physical beauty, anyway, really is such a subjective, intangible thing. I don't find half the size 0 Hollywood lookalikes beautiful--only a few who show something special, something unique in their eyes and the way they carry themselves. I DO find Kathy Bates beautiful because I LOVE humor and empathy. I find Camryn Manheim beautiful because I admire her confidence. I personally am an attractive woman (of a certain age) but when I was in high school I never went on a date. Not one. No Homecoming, no Prom. It took me years to grow into my good genes, and I still have to work hard every day to own what I look like. (Just so we're clear, I'm attractive, not supermodel material :) ). Beauty IS an internal state; it's an attitude. And you, with those sparkling eyes, your very quick wit, your mystical insights, and your obviously kind heart, have it. Thanks for sharing something women of every age can never hear enough.