Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Joy is the best make-up - Anne Lamott

Beautiful People
Recent media attention has focused on a few news stories that have outraged the general population.  Seems a young mother in California has been giving her eight year old daughter Botox injections.  She views this as an act of love and support. It was all done to give the little girl an edge over the other tiny contestants in beauty pageants she was competing in.  Apparently, her adorable little dimples were viewed as wrinkles by some of the other moms.  I’ve always looked at dimples as a gift from God, a physical manifestation of a happy spirit!  All that joy carving out accents around the mouth, like a lovely work of art to be admired.  
The news also broke last week, if you were over 35, you had no business wearing a miniskirt; by 47 your bikini days were over, and when you reach the ripe old age of 51, the stilettos need to be placed in mouth balls. Best of all, at 61, bathing suits of any kind... banned!  Perhaps that means skinny dipping then becomes acceptable?  Or, shall we all don, diving attire then?  Spandex at 61 somehow doesn’t seem ideal either.  It isn’t very comfortable.  In France a few years ago, I was delighted to see how settled in everyone seemed to be with their bodies.  Old women on the beach, thong style suits, topless, their pendulous breasts drooping down to tickle their little round tummies.  Leathered old men, sporting neon Speedos. These flirty Frenchmen’s  butts looked like they  abandoned residence from their backsides, relocating and setting up permanent housekeeping in their burgeoning bellies.  I thought they all were beautiful.  I was fascinated by their sensuous pleasure in the sun and sand, and joyous freedom from the bondage of other people’s opinions.  
Is it any wonder our young people have issues with body image and self confidence.  The hypnotic brain washing of print media, the fashion world, and our own insecurities (created in part by the media and rich malcontents) has crept into the belief systems of our youngest, like an insidious fog, blinding them to real beauty.  It’s time it ended.  Attempts have been made the last few years.  We had the Dove Real Women Campaign.  Women of all ages, shapes and sizes posed joyfully in underwear.  More realistically shaped Barbie Dolls found their way to store shelves too.  Clothing lines, as fashionable as clothing available to the petite, focused on big, beautiful women.  Somehow, I think even these changes still feeds the madness.  Accommodating, yes, but we’re still focusing on appearances.  It’s going to take decades to change the current generations interpretation of beautiful.   I’m not sure our economy is ready for that financial hit.  Think about all the money that’s spent to fix up the outside... The diet, fashion and beauty industry alone could likely eliminate our National Deficit.  As “beautiful” as we have all become with our perfect fashion, skin, hair, boobs, and abs, discontent prevails and we continue to seek Happy. Maybe another face lift, or ten pounds, or a younger looking model on our arm will lead us into the land of milk and honey and a perfect life.  Perhaps, its time to explore some other options....
I heard an outraged mother make the statement that we need to begin raising our children from the inside, out.  I wonder if world peace would be possible (and Miss America pageants would go by the wayside for lack of participation) if we taught our children the importance of non-judgement, acceptance, integrity, and kindness.  What if we taught them about the wonder of their bodies, how they miraculously work behind the scenes for us so that we can enjoy this earthly life and all its pleasures?  What if we taught them a body works most efficiently when nourished well with fresh, wholesome foods?  What if we taught them a body loves to move, and it's fun to play tag, dangle from the jungle gym, roller-skate, bike-ride, and dance in the rain? What if we taught them that a smile is better than Botox or a year’s supply of the finest cosmetics? What if we told them laughter generates a brighter glow than any make-over?  What if we taught them to identify something beautiful about every person they meet?  What if we exposed them to beauty through the eyes of many cultures and throughout history?  What would that kind of internal change do for their perception of their own appearance?  More important what would that do for their contribution to the world? I believe it would break this cycle of self-loathing, and carve a new path to good health, freedom, and happiness.  We are held in bondage by our beliefs about beauty, just as much as we experienced the bondage of segregation, half a century ago. 
Beautiful people come in all shapes and sizes.  I know I didn’t always believe that and bought into the madness too.   Maybe a shift takes place as we get older and recognize our time on this earth is winding down. Perhaps we finally get, it just isn’t worth our time to fret about a natural process that is merely physical. Maybe it's enough to do our best enjoying our remaining days spending meaningful time with others, filling our souls with our passions, and really looking at this fabulous world we live in as the greatest Art we’ll ever witness. Maybe instead of being Art Critics, we become Art Appreciators.  Perhaps we just begin to look around and redefine beauty by using the eyes of Spirit.  We aren’t physical beings having a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings experiencing a physical life and all that comes with it.  What remains long after the body becomes weak, diminished, and tired is real Beauty.  What remains is the joy of a human experience well lived, not well preserved.  The memories, the tenderness, the service, the joys and sorrows, the Love.  That is what I see dancing around in the eyes of my 92 year old neighbor.  That is what I saw the other day at a luncheon, in the sweet smile and brilliant glow of a lady who was likely 100 pounds overweight.  To me she looked a cherub, right from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, spreading the joy and delight of her great life with everyone in the room.  That is what I see in the etched, wise, Mona Lisa smile of my mother-in-law.  A kind compassion and all knowing, answered if asked, yet allowing others to experience their journey. Beautiful.  
It’s time we all explored the nuances of beauty.  Just leaving open the option that we just may find some unexpected delights in the world’s definition of imperfection.  It’s then we might begin to know that real beauty can, and does last forever. Most of all, it just may free us to wear stilettos at 70 and go topless on a beach in the coastal regions of France.  We can leave this road map of a happy, joyous, free, life to  future generations, wrinkle by wrinkle. 

"There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this Source, you will truly have defeated age." –Sophia Loren