B is for Beauty • #atozchallenge

B is for Beauty • head-heart-health.com

If I had a daughter, against all advice to the contrary, I would tell her she is beautiful. I would also tell her she is clever, important and capable of great love, but I would still insist she is beautiful.

Some feminists believe that claiming the label of beautiful means women are striving to meet some predetermined standard of attractiveness for the male gaze. I disagree. Beauty is a term we apply to many things other than human beings.

There are beautiful songs, beautiful sunsets, beautiful paintings and beautiful words. There isn’t one characteristic that is common to all these things. When we say something is beautiful we are not describing a size, a shape, or colour — we are describing an emotional experience. Beauty is an illusive essence that captures our attention, that stops us in our tracks, that catches our eye. It brings the observer a perfect moment of pleasure in a world filled with chaos and noise.

And beauty isn’t about being the same. In fact, it is the unusual shade of pink in the sky, the unexpected combination of words, and the errant freckles or gap in the teeth that define a beautiful thing.  As Karl Lagerfeld said, “There is no beauty without strangeness.”

I reject the notion that we have to renounce our right to celebrate beauty in ourselves or in others,  in order to fully realise our equality with men. Wearing pretty clothes, adorning ourselves with jewelry or flowers, and painting our faces are legitimate ways to feel more beautiful. Women have embellished their bodies for thousands of years. We don’t have to stop because someone says we’re playing into a misogynistic game fueled only by sexual desire.

If I had a daughter, I would tell her she is beautiful, because she is worthy of my attention, a bright point of joy and love in a life that is sometimes filled with shadows. She would be as beautiful as the haunting voice of a cello solo, or the impossible turquoise of an island ocean. I would tell her she is beautiful to the only people who matter — those who love her. And I would do my best to make sure she continued to believe it for the rest of her life.

Tell me, what kind of “strangeness” makes you beautiful?

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge


About KatieP

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing

65 thoughts on “B is for Beauty • #atozchallenge

    1. None of this suppose business. You are beautiful and you are sharing that beauty all over the place. You are beautiful to the people who matter who includes the many strangers who are touched by your blog and you matter to them!

      1. Perhaps so, but there are other areas in life where I feel rather ugly, and it’s reflected, so…all swings and roundabouts. But thank you – I appreciate what you’re saying 🙂

  1. To your question, being a writer makes me beautiful, being a journalist makes me beautiful, wanting to excel in career and life makes me beautiful, my thoughts make me beautiful and I feel more beautiful readin this post. Thank you for touching my heart 🙂

    Do drop into http://www.malavikka.blogspot.com

  2. Yes, I think that feminism is about celebrating what makes us different just as much as being equal. We should have the right to wear a mini, or wear make up and still be treated with the respect we deserve. Love this. 🙂 Yes, my daughter will be told she is beautiful. 🙂

  3. Great post Katie unfortunately neither my parents, nor my husband say that I am beautiful. So I started thinking that I am not beautiful after reading your post I feel beautiful

    1. I’m not sure if you mean that my post made you feel LESS beautiful or MORE beautiful. I hope it is the latter. If no one is telling you you’re beautiful, maybe you could try saying it to those around you and see what happens.

  4. That’s a great post and of course we should think beauty as something that has no set standards. Beauty lies in the eyes of beholder as they say! Beautiful post Katie! 🙂

  5. I have 3 daughter’s and 6 granddaughters. I never miss an opportunity to tell them how beautiful they are inside and ou.
    I wish I heard more of that when I was a kid. Good Luck with the A-to-Z!

  6. I could not agree more, we should always embrace our beauty and that of others. Interestingly enough men find it challenging to receive the words you’re beautiful, I find myself often saying to my boyfriend ‘you’re so beautiful’ and he gets embarrassed by the words LOL but I cannot help it, he is and they simply trickle off my tongue naturally. The strangeness that makes me beautiful is probably my honesty and openness I am willing to share my challenges with the world so others can see there is nothing wrong with them and they are perfect as they are. You may like my posts on the A to Z challenge we think in a similar way http://www.kellymartinspeaks.co.uk/

  7. Beautiful thoughts. I hope I have poured into my daughters (now in their 20s) that their beauty shines through their faces, eyes, smiles, hips, toes, laughter, words, and actions. I think so, because they are much more comfortable with themselves, have a grace and confidence in themselves, than I ever did. I didn’t have those kinds of words spoken over me, and I determined I would always be their biggest fan, and let them know they could conquer whatever worlds they wanted to.

  8. I absolutely love this….I agree 100% and do in fact tell my teenage daughter she is beautiful, inside and out 😉

  9. This is such a beautiful and moving post. I like your definition of beauty as it so much more encompassing than what we think when we hear the word beautiful, especially when talking about a woman (or girl). If I had a daughter I’d also tell her she was beautiful. I have a son, so I tell him he’s beautiful.

  10. What a beautiful post! 🙂 I know my mother always told me I was beautiful and still does. However, I don’t think I ever really believed it and it is something I still work on today. I think what makes me beautiful is my free thinking approach. I play devil’s advocate a lot and the beauty of it is definitely in the eye of the beholder. Not everyone sees it. :p

  11. This is such an amazing post. I don’t have children (just dogs), but I always wanted a little girl whom I could dress up. Right now, all the Easter dresses are on display and they are so cute. I spent 10 minutes ooohhhing and aahhhhing the other day.

  12. When my daughter was growing upI I told her she was beautiful almost every single day. I told her she was smart, and funny, and fun to be with. I told her she would learn to like mushrooms and olives and cauliflower when she was a bit older. All of those things were true. 🙂 We live in a culture where it’s not considered appropriate to find oneself attractive, inside or out. To which I say pfffft! I’m so glad I was able to raise a daughter to be self-confident and strong–it took me so much longer to be comfortable with myself.

    Love the post–thank you, Katie.

  13. I blow bubbles. People don’t expect this from an adult (or something like it :). But only the most hardened can keep from smiling when bubbles are floating around.

  14. Katie, your post and the comments have really got me thinking and my response is quite different to what others have said. For me, true beauty is a spiritual quality which reflects the heart, the soul and involves character. You can be pretty, attractive and these refer to your appearance but telling someone who is selfish and only lives for themselves that they are beautiful is a contradiction in terms. Once you have met and been touched and transformed by this beauty, you know the difference.
    Being a parent isn’t easy and it’s hard when you’re child is struggling. Both of my kids have seen straight through me when I’m telling them they did well when they came last in the race. I have always told my son how much I love his smile and his warmth. He can get a bit volatile but he is exceptionally warm and still holds my hand and we give each other hugs and he’s 11. Our daughter is pretty and she’s also very lean and into fashion etc. I end up buying her all sorts from the op shops like high heel shoes, silver bags, fancy dresses so she can play around and express herself and have fun. She also does cub scouts which has a mixture of boys and girls and dancing so she has a diversity of interests.
    From what I’ve also observed, is that these days boys are actually the ones who are missing out and being straight-jacketed into narrow gender stereotypes. Do you remember “Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure? Well, it turns out that boys don’t sing…at least, not in Australia. My son sings a lot at home but not in public and that’s very common and such a shame.
    xx Rowena

    1. Thank you for your different perspective, Roweeee. It is interesting that you give beauty a moral value — you think we need to be good or giving in order to earn the label. I don’t see it the same way. We don’t ask if a flower or a concerto or a sculpture is good or bad, we just appreciate it for what it is. Perhaps it’s just we use the words differently. What you are describing I would call kindness, generosity, even loveliness.

      But you are right about boys getting left out. I think boys and men can be beautiful too.

      1. I had a bit of a rethink about all of this when I realised that my family doesn’t seem to give me any compliments and mostly criticism and I get such lovely encouragement from other bloggers. I have also have had a rough week with my kids where there were some far from beautiful moments where they were brawling with each other, rude to me and demanding…something a flower, concerto or sculpture never does. Here in Australia, our language tends to be a lot more toned down and understated than what I understand in the US and we could probably use a bit more rah rah.
        My patience also wears this with people who look attractive on the outside but are truly nasty people. This perspective was immortalised through Oscar Wilde’s “Portrait of Dorien Grey”. Worth a read if you haven’t read it. So our viewpoints probably aren’t so far apart after all. xx Rowena

        1. You make some good points. It’s funny though that you assumed I’m American when I’m an Aussie just like you 😀
          Here’s hoping you have a better week this week x

          1. How funny! Most of the people who visit my blog are American. I have a terrible memory. Sorry! I asked my husband and he thinks “loveliness” describes that inner beauty. I’m not sure that’s a word in common usage though.
            Thanks for the wishes. My daughter had a series of tests and it’s been pretty hard on her and the family and she had a cathartic meltdown and ripped everything off the shelves in her room while on a blood sugar low. Hopefully, we’re on the homeward stretch now.

  15. Loved this!! i grew up feeling ugly and dorky. I have felt beautiful while performing: playing guitar and singing. But really, I am most beautiful when I am surrounded by people I love and I’m laughing with them. I can see the difference in photos. My mother never told me I was beautiful until the night I eloped and surprised her at her house in my wedding dress 🙂 I’m sure I was beautiful, because I was ON FIRE with joy.

  16. I know you premised “feminists” with “some,” but I just want to say that I am a very proud and adamant feminist and a huge part of what makes me a feminist is the belief that all women are beautiful and that every woman’s personal definition of “beauty” is the right one! Feminism is not about not wanting to appear feminine, it’s about empowering every woman to be her best, most beautiful self – by herself and for herself!
    P.S. Your blog is beautiful! I love the photos that accompany each post!

    1. Yes, yes, yes. I LOVE your definition of feminism and it is one I embrace.
      Thank you for your kind compliment. I try to make beautiful things ♥

  17. I have 2 boys and 2 girls…I tell them they are beautiful all the time. More importantly they are beautiful people with big hearts. I love that the most.:)

  18. I have always told my daughter she is beautiful and still do, even though she is now 21! She is beautiful inside and out. When she was born, she was born face first as opposed to head first (very painful to us both – when my youngest son was looking like following suit 8 years later I had a c section instead) but her face was extremely swollen And bruised – I still thought she was beautiful. She always craved her father’s attention but unfortunately he doesn’t really take notice – apart from telling her she had “caterpillar” eyebrows & she then raced out to get them groomed. Wish she hadn’t – she didn’t need to – but I’d rather she had made the decision for herself.

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