Beauty as a Verb (and State of Being)


This just in: science is postulating that cellulite may finally be able to be banished!

I found this news in a credible magazine more often purchased by those who have the requisite cash to refresh and recreate their bodies. (I am not part of that demographic; I read a variety of publications as familiar readers know.) Apparently, dermatologists with top credentials note that this is changing dimpled thighs considerably. It involves loosening and breaking up fibrous bands that underlay the skin, smoothing the visible layer, cellulite seeming to vanish. I picture a giant rolling pin running over buttocks and thighs, then I wonder for what purpose those fibrous bands exist. It seems to me legs and probably derrieres need these to be intact or they wouldn’t be there. But women who are thrilled with this development will seek all promised results. They are intent on changing the human landscape in warmer climes at least. And in their private lives, it may well matter more than I can ever know.

Imagine those who heretofore felt unfit to appear in a bathing suit strolling about world beaches with aplomb. The troops of made-to-order bodies will experience a manifold increase. And I am wondering if anyone will actually scrutinize and calculate the loss of dimpled skin other than those whose worries arise from such issues. Summer is not so far away for U.S. residents. I am certain there are droves who will breathe sighs of relief once they discern fewer to zero tiny hillocks and valleys between hips and knees.

Rather, try this: imagine those who populate any street or beach or office, barely a thought used up on outward impressions made once leaving their abodes. Instead, they are busy playing, strolling with friends, working like the dickens, exercising, eating and drinking or reading a book. Singing a song. Dancing across grass. These women are gazing into the distance, full of hopes, worries, plans, disappointments. Or they may be mesmerized by a turquoise sea at high tide, or the sound of tree branches of shiny leaves whispering in the wind, or the sharp clean scent of snow as it makes a dizzying descent to chilled faces. They dream of things. Practice love. Thigh perfection is not an urgent issue.

Still, I understand both points of view. I am in my sixth decade; what was in good place in my third decade gradually drooped an inch when I wasn’t even looking. I expected as much so there is little to no shock involved. But I was surprised today when I tried on a fun sleeveless dress and noted upper arms no longer sport the biceps I had thought were still there. They used to be admirable due to weight training…back in my forties…and very useful. Instead, they appear to be loosening, too, despite my being active and feeling strong. Well, I have sweaters. I may not think of it again, as I don’t much think of the streaks of white mingling with the old golden brown hair.

Who am I bothering with my aging? Not myself, certainly not enough to lose sleep over. Do the young see their own futures and want to avoid it as long as possible? Other women who are self-consciousness of their own gradual loss of suppleness, those lines about the eyes–are they weirdly embarrassed for me when they could be smiling at and laughing with me? Or men (with middle-aged paunch and thinning hair, their own lines subdividing foreheads) who avert their eyes as they spot a younger version of womanhood? I find it sad that so many people find aging anathema, as if we were truly meant to stay naive children and hormonal teens, just be young forever. Celebrities astound me with their avarice for youth, the need to maintain this illusion. Why, really? Everything in nature springs to life and transforms and breaks down. The cycle is complex and perfect. New human beings take some time revealing themselves, feel awkward as they straddle ages, then become vibrantly mature. Then slow down to a simmer, settling bit by bit. And when ready, we dispense with our physical shells.

I wasn’t born a remarkable beauty so perhaps it is odd I did not often feel as if my visage was not good enough. I fit clothing well enough; my looks were acceptable. I thought the human attributes of soul and intellect were far more interesting, certainly attractive. Bright people were more magnetic to me than superficially lovely ones; soulful people even more so. I thought a sensitive balance was key, a mix of intelligence, heart, strength and grace. Being active was a given for me with endless impulses to move and do. Become more, create more! I still have energy to spare–it can be problematic as I don’t care so much for sleep– despite a few chronic health issues. Activity fuels a responsive state of self empowerment.

Still, I admit to tossing out that old phrase–“putting on my face”. Putting on make up, that is. It refers to readying ourselves for the world, setting in place a removable but protective barrier between myself and unknown social elements. Particularly during teen years, it was an armour or a protest, an experiment with identity and a time for frivolity. It’s an old habit I’ve never apologized for, even during the reign of radical feminism when some women strongly disapproved. (I never burned my bra, either, but I fought and worked along with everyone else for fair and just treatment of females and other human beings.) I have enjoyed the theater of it, the face paint and fashions. I liked being able to morph, one effect for another, and imagined that as an old woman I might still be playing. I do still have a nice collection of Clinique, Cover Girl and Lancome.

And I also recently purchased a new swim suit; I await a good swimming pool so I can dive in with goggles to defend myself from chlorine. I can assure you I wouldn’t have any more interest in swimming if I seriously regretted my physical flaws. I used to adore diving and can’t wait to get at it again.

After all the products used–youth passing and illnesses so far endured and health rebounding–I am still not afraid of aging. I am not afraid beauty will no longer visit me in some way or another.  I know my body will fight with me and also respond to rescue and remediation. Until it will not, anymore. But beauty is not something I feel I must go on a journey to find. It is within my reach in a thousand ways and places. The beauty I adore originates both in the natural world and in our own living. I see it daily. It moves me, informs my thinking, edifies and invigorates me. It lives within and without me, is never static, ever surprising.

My own mother was forty when I was born, with once-auburn hair that was early to grey but soft and wavy. Soon to become much more white. She moved past middle age with minor grumbling, but her eyes, smile and laughter, her firm skin–all this was, of course, unique to her. The geography of her life did leave telltale marks  but she wore little make up–the barest slick of lipstick, a dusting of powder. She said she had little time for it. But her joie de vivre was apparent. Everything she felt rippled across her face. Gesturing hands, inflections of voice spoke of a fascination with and a deep appreciation of others. She was invested in living, not in appearing as someone other or more than who she was. She enjoyed clothes or getting her hair done. Her curiosity about life reflected a penchant for forays into the known and unknown, the sweet secrets of life. My mother gathered her resources for family and others in greater need. There was plenty of struggle but her spirit was a boomerang, coming back again, rising up. She taught me about these things. By living richly, my mother nurtured deep beauty. Even–especially–at sixty, seventy and eighty. 

And I haven’t mentioned how she looked in floor-length gowns she wore to the symphony or opera, even long after I had grown up. Shoulders back, head high. Gleaming white hair may was like a crown. I don’t recall noticing wrinkles; her skin was wonderful with just a dab of Pond’s face cream. She was accessible and funny–people sought her out. I can guarantee she never entertained the idea that anyone’s thighs might be erased of their natural permutations. She stayed around until her nineties and even then had a flair all her own. I loved her vibrant, genuine ways, flaws and all.

The first half of my life felt as if it lacked too often that fine grace I longed to live by. Troubles came like we all get to have, those roadblocks and little deaths that take their toll. I became waif thin; drank too much for my own and others’ good; and tallied failures as much if not more than blessings. I had a great deal to learn despite imagining I knew a fair amount already. But one thing I believed did come true: as I came upon forty, fifty and sixty I arrived a happier person than decades previous. The years have been by turns ridiculous, bruising, ecstatic, enlightening, confounding, and serene. Human.

But beauty yet attends to me; that is, it fills my life with delights, its wisdom and constancy. I gather it around me and take my fill of it, try to share it and create more. What can I do that will improve upon this moment, this time I have here? What will make a difference in the quality of life for my family, for friends, and for those I may never know at all? This is the way of true beauty to me, the daily essentials: each thought and act a chance to care and be kind. To make good use of my soul as well as mind.

There exists in this heartbreaking world a pervasive beauty of countless spirits and manifestations of Divine Spirit. We must see it and claim it. It can reveal itself in ways and places we may not expect. Take the other morning before getting up to embrace another day.

I was coming up from sleep. Floating, not quite conscious of the flesh and bones world. I was moving about in a vast netherworld, an ether of bodylessness. There before me was what I have come to call a Light Being, or an angel or reflection of God that gave me a moment with it. Who knows the exact naming of such things? But to me the Light Beings are part of the spiritual life we inhabit, whether awake, dreaming, or beyond sentience as we know it now.

As they always are, this Light Being was exquisite, blue-white-golden-silvery pulsing energy, radiant and intense. It was transforming into a more human torso, transparent while having a kind of density. Brilliant, expansive as it was suspended within more light, as if treading water but instead treading an energized space. I moved closer and closer, then slipped into the light body, joined this humming, luminous beingness and felt the great joy I always feel, as if I was truly home at long last. I felt Light Beings everywhere. I knew them like I knew the voices of my loved ones or the colors of the sky. Shortly I returned to earthy consciousness, to this home of everyday, multi-layered living.

My life includes make up and fashion forays, cellulite and spider veins. But more than these, it is a lifelong work tempered by heartaches, saved by Love, made sturdy and hopeful by triumphs. It is a weaving of pleasures and prayers. Light Beings. Therein lies the truest beauty for this woman. And when I look at you, my friend, that is what I am seeking and finding in you, too.


9 thoughts on “Beauty as a Verb (and State of Being)

  1. A resplendent soul has her own magnetism. There is an attraction about certain people that cannot be described. May be it comes from their souls, their vibrant outlook on life. Nobody should worry too much about their age marks, just trying to stay healthy and graceful is enough.

  2. Non è facile invecchiare, però bisogna cercare di accettare il passare del tempo. Oggigiorno è tutto un apparire, le donne che ricorrono ai chirurghi plastici non stanno bene con loro stesse. Hai ragione, abbiamo la necessità di trovare la bellezza dentro di noi e star bene con noi stesse, quella è la vera forza che si chiama: love.

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