Cultivated Revelations

A conscious lifestyle blog

Can Beauty Be Defined?

The concept of beauty is such a pervasive thing in our culture currently. I suppose it always has been, but I tend to think it’s gotten more aggressively ingrained into our society over the past handful of decades. Beauty in terms of self-image is something people as young as pre-teens are forced to define for themselves. Or rather, instead of defining it for themselves, it might be more accurate to say that pre-teens succumb to whatever is deemed to be appropriate in the realm of beauty by outside influences. (Who are these outside influences? I don’t know! But someone made up the idea that slicked back ponytails with perfectly poufy, wispy bangs was a cool thing when I was 12, and it WASN’T ME! But I succumbed….Oh, so unfortunately.) On the other hand, beauty in a more broad sense of the term, outside of physical appearance, is something you don’t really understand until you experience it as you grow into adulthood. Even now, it’s kind of a complex thing to try to wrap my head around or define. There have been times in my life when I thought I understood beauty, but looking back, I know I was so naïve. (White eyeliner and pencil-thin eyebrows of my 90’s middle school career, I’m lookin’ at you!) It’s such a process, I think, especially as a woman, to come to terms with your own personal interpretation of beauty.

I have had many defining moments in this realm over the years of my life – revelations, if you will. And I’m sure the way I feel about beauty now won’t be the same as how I feel about it in 5, 10 or 20 years. But, I can say that looking back there is one moment that sticks out as the first light bulb that went off in my head about it. It was the first time I heard someone refer to a male as “beautiful.” I was a kid, and my mom was commenting to my aunt about how beautiful her oldest son, my mom’s nephew, was. I was confused about why my mom was using a feminine word to describe my boy cousin, and for some reason, this confusion stuck with me until I sorted it out in my kid-brain. Before this, I had thought of only girls (ex: princesses) as being able to be “beautiful.” When I realized that that parameter didn’t actually exist, it broke open the boundary for me and let tons of other beliefs, definitions, and versions of the word in. It sounds kind of silly and simple, but it’s true! Plus, I was like eight, so cut me some slack.

Of course, “What is beauty?” is not a question with a finite answer. It’s ever-changing, and is extremely subjective. There is no right way for me to try to define what beauty is at all, because it will likely be different from how you define it. However, I do think it is important to suggest that every one of us take some time to question what you think beauty is, and really never stop questioning. I think the more the concept of beauty is questioned, the more open the definition becomes, and the more one can let it into their life.

For me, as an almost-30-year-old adult, beauty is an all-encompassing thing that exists literally everywhere in this world. As I’ve grown, I’ve come to realize that for me, beauty cannot be defined, but it can be found anywhere I look. It is a cliché, but there is beauty even in the ugliest of places. It’s harder to find, yes, but it’s there. Beauty exists in physical, aesthetic, forms as well as intangible, feeling forms. It’s everything. I think this revelation began a few years ago, undoubtedly inspired by my time living in a progressive Brooklyn culture, when I started to reject America’s most popular, societal definition of beauty (you can find examples of this type of beauty by watching any Victoria’s Secret commercial or looking at any People Magazine cover) as I realized that I found many, many more things than that to be beautiful. It’s freeing to be able to look at some thing or some experience and decide, for yourself, where you find beauty in it; to be able to define it yourself. Really, that’s what this blog is all about – cultivating these types of beliefs by looking at things from as many different perspectives as possible. Everyone has a different viewpoint, and therefore, a different preference on what they view as beautiful, and guess what?! That’s beautiful, too. (I’m feeling super cliché–y here, but come on, am I right?)

So, I’d like to write about beauty in the physical form on this blog because it’s something that I think can be cultivated and can be full of revelations. The ways we strive to feel our most beautiful are important, whether it be through makeup or hair styles or even lack of either. Playing with our own beauty is a way that we can make our lives our own. How we look is, in fact, an important vehicle for communication with the world.

I especially have an interest in quality, effective beauty products that are natural, free of harmful chemicals, and that never test on animals. Not all the products I currently use fit this bill, so it’s an area I’d like to improve upon. There is so much to learn. So, I’ll try things out, write reviews, impart recommendations and of course, share opinions. Sometimes, this subject can come off as superficial, but don’t fret – it never is, to me. It’s always connected to a deeper meaning. And it’s always subjective, which on this topic, is a good thing. How beautiful is that?

1 Comment

  1. I was writing on Twitter the other day how happy I was that I grew up before social media and didn’t have it in high school or even college. (I’m a few years older than you.) Letting others define beauty, for teens especially, is so problematic.

    When I read books, I look for people that reflect me as an overweight person. Even in literature, skinny is held up to be beautiful. As an overweight person, I rarely see myself reflected as an attractive person in books. The characters either have a weird nose or stringy hair, but they are never fat. I may not be able to brag about 6-pack abs, but I do have a nice face, pretty eyes, and good legs for my size.

    Societies standards for beauty are bogus. I look forward to more posts from you about beauty and the whole breadth of it!

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