An upcoming fitness test made me think about body image and beauty. Natural beauty is wonderful. It is something I appreciate whenever I see it, no matter if it is a stunning landscape view or in the face of an unusually beautiful person. The reason why I enjoy seeing something pretty, and why it catches my attention, probably has a very logical explanation. Some things are undeniably and almost objectively beautiful, but most things more debatably so. And that is the beauty of beauty, that it is up to personal interpretation.
The majority of us are not undeniably beautiful forces of nature. Most people just look like people do: Great but perhaps not ethereal. As we get to know each other, our physical features often seem to change. For example, the persons I first found quite ordinary becomes a great beauty when I notice their delightful personality. The classic beauty on the other hand starts looking unattractive after she has treated me rudely a few times. Facial features leave a way for our subjective interpretations of the person’s other traits. One way to express my personality and affect the way I myself, as well as others, perceive myself is through my style. Which is by no means anything special. The way I decide to dress says a lot about myself. And it is a way to stop caring as much about what I am born with, and instead, appreciate what I have to offer in personality.
Stay natural: Apfel and Diana Vreeland, two of the most style-striking people imaginable, were never considered particularly pretty by their contemporaries, nor, it seems, by the two women themselves. Nevertheless, they are both great style icons, not just of their generation, but by any standard thinkable. If either of them had been born with an abundance of classic beauty to lean back on, the world might very well have been deprived of their creative and sin pairing senses of style. Not that there aren’t natural beauties out there with an impeccable sense of style. But perhaps the incentive to get inventive is bigger if you are not often showered with compliments.
The pursuit is as persistent as ever. We are all taught through social media and magazines how to best try to fit into the model of perfection. With makeup to cover, not enhance. With clothes to balance, not exaggerate. With rules to follow on body shapes and hair types. All this to even us out, make us normal, hide our quirks. If you have got wide shoulders, you are taught how to make them appear smaller, not how to amplify their width. Isn’t that sad? But, I have never seen Iris Apfel do ordinary or restrained. But, guess what: Immortality was never won by doing “normal”. No matter the degree of classic beauty we possess, we know that age will slowly creep up. Although the character that comes with old age is one of the most attractive features to be found, our society’s obsession with youth, fitness, and perfection often makes us forget that fact. Style, however, is invulnerable to time. If anything, we will have had more time to curate a decent wardrobe by the time we retire, making time an accomplice in building up our chicness, instead of an enemy. Diana Vreeland was hotter than ever when she passed away at the age of eighty-six, and Iris Apfel is still going strong at ninety-eight. There is a lesson to be learned by these gorgeous women. Perhaps not considered the greatest beauties of their time, but who cares, when they are instead considered the greatest stylists of all times.
Just embrace your imperfections. Those insecurities or those features you initially hate about yourself then end up being the ones you fall in love with and appreciate the most. For me, if there is one thing that seems to only grow stronger with age, it is acceptance. The embrace of your quirks and imperfections, because they are the things that make you. Be yourself.