A reader wondered how I felt about this…
In a forum I’m in, PCA came up and someone brought up her view that any system that sets beauty into a good/bad binary is inherently flawed. She said that telling a woman she only looks good in certain colors or that wearing the wrong color will make her less beautiful is limiting, and that nothing can dull the light of a confident woman.
I have a lot of beliefs in common with the woman who said this. No doubt, she can explain her thoughts better than I can. I invite her to do so, in a comment, or by email. I would gladly add her words to the conversation here, anonymously if she prefers.
What I feel that she and I share is a question: We spend all our time resisting this and forcing that. Why can’t everything just be fine the way it is? Why can’t everybody just be perfect? Because, the fact is that they are.
When Rachel and I were finding a name for a project, the idea of Gorgeous & Fearless came up. A friend answered my request for feedback, saying, “First of all, not every woman is gorgeous and second, we all have fear.”
On the first point, I respectfully disagree with all my heart. Every woman is gorgeous. It doesn’t matter what she wears or how old she is. Unless you buy into how media defines beauty. Which I do not. For me, anything created by Nature is beautiful and perfect.
We all recognize that MediaBeauty needs some whistleblowing. That is not Beauty. A better definition can be found in John O’Donohue’s book, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace. Every woman is beautiful, as are every man and child, and equally so.
I ask my kids for feedback about an outfit. One of my daughters says, “…just my opinion, but then, I’m so masculine.” She’s not right. No woman is ever masculine, unless you buy into traditional (old, boring, limited) definitions of masculine and feminine. Which I do not.
However, a woman can use colours and lines that are foreign to hers that cause her to appear less womanly, either beefier than she is or more frail. Obviously, the distinctions blur here, but the problem isn’t in looking like a very beautiful man if that’s your natural and real brand of feminitiy.
Just as we are the most authentic and genuine backdrop for our own hair colour, whatever it is. Forcing such things results in a sort of distortion that others feel. Or I think others feel it. I do but I sometimes wonder if, as a Winter Libra Classic, I got an overdose of balance tuning, as if I am thrilled by symmetry in a way that mostly those who work in neurology and plastic surgery can relate to. Also, dressage riders.
It makes me happy that my girls’ generation is growing up with Lady Gaga and all the revolutionary artists of this time. These people are willing to expose their identity, or create a new one, to turn conventional thinking on its end very quickly. They’ve always existed, but not in these numbers and no longer underground.
When we choose to change how we see, we change what we see. Or is it the other way round? It’s both ways. Gaga changes what we see. She throws back rules about feminine and sexy and says, “Would appear those rules don’t apply to me.” And, as always when one person speaks up, half the audience stands up and says, “You know, they don’t apply to me either. I’m not different or alone. I’m the same as you.” Hence, her following.
The rest of us make the small, safe changes, just enough to survive in our minds. We keep it quiet in case we have to justify ourselves. We are too tired to fight. We figure raising our kids and keeping our homes matters more. We’re still stunned by what has been done to us over the previous 3,000 years, and thought just maybe, someone would notice out of kindness and decency. They won’t. They never had to learn how. Many women can’t find their voice yet today. Little ripples are fine if that’s what you can manage. You’ll feel better. Sometimes, though, a tsunami isn’t such a bad thing to shake up a tired and harmful status quo.
In The Magus, John Fowles says,
Men love war because it allows them to look serious. Because they imagine it is the one thing that stops women laughing at them. In it they can reduce women to the status of objects. That is the great distinction between the sexes. Men see objects, women see relationship between objects. Whether the objects love each other, need each other, match each other. It is an extra dimension of feeling we men are without and one that makes war abhorrent to all real women – and absurd. I will tell you what war is. War is a psychosis caused by an inability to see relationships. Our relationship with our fellow-men. Our relationship with our economic and historical situation. And above all our relationship to nothingness. To death.
Makes me wonder if this is why colour analysts are mostly women. Our minds feel relationships. And another reason. Anyone subscribe to National Geographic? The February 2014 issue contains research from McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) kinesiologist, Dr. Jennifer Heisz, that in looking at faces, women make more eye movements, fixate on individual features almost twice as many times as men, and scan far more frequently, generating a more vivid picture in our minds.
Gaga takes all the stuck thinking about what is feminine, sexual, right, wrong, belonging, identity, and throws it right back in our face. She can do much more to free my daughter’s mind than the blonde starlets, also successful by the zillionaire standard, that marketing compressed has into MediaSexy.
Gaga’s not a role model, she’s not trying to be. She says, “Whose culture is really sick? Let’s talk out loud about what’s going on.” All those starlets, many having had enhancement procedures by the time they’re 18. These are our society’s success stories? Schools that overlook all the kids in the classrooms dysfunctioning on pot because they sit nicely and quietly under the influence of THC. So what if it drops the boys’ testosterone and causes permanent changes in the brain within 4-5 years? Is being quiet and getting along really better?
On the second point, yes, everyone has fear. Well sure we do, of things that will probably never happen. Not everyone is in Vogue, not everyone is In Style, not everyone is Allure-ing by their perfect-world implications. But we can aspire to what is best in them. As Rachel said, looking at couture elevates everyone. It broadens our idea of what’s possible, taking our idea of ‘normal’ to a higher place of creativity, freedom of expression, and imagination, exploring the boundaries of taste and forcing us to explore our own.
I have a love hate relationship with fashion and beauty. In a male power structure, women are the outsiders, kept there by the insecure bullies at the top. We’ve learned to survive and succeed by getting along or playing along. Why isn’t it good enough to just be who we are? But then, we women hand over money for creams we know won’t work, for clothes we can’t eat or walk in, like going back to binding our feet. We surrender our bodies and our money. It’s not the guys making us do that. They don’t know and don’t care.
To get clarity on big subjects that can be a fuzzy haze of what others think, we need to define it for ourselves. Is wealth really just piles of money to you? Probably not.
My definition of beauty is anything that could have happened by itself. Without force to make something happen or resistance to prevent it from happening. Something that just is in its own right, the way that Nature made it. There’s synchronicity in that and it feels good. Great makeup is taking the colours already in your face and adding more of them.
Would a lily-of-the-valley be as beautiful if the flower were orange? It might take some getting used to because it’s not what we’re accustomed to seeing. It feels a little insecure. If the color of the flower then gently shifted back to white, we’d feel ourselves relax. Tension eases in thinking about it. It would feel belonging, calm, settled, affirming, and right.
Beauty in apparel is extraneous beauty. The same sensibility applies: it could have happened by itself as a continuation of who the woman already is. Amplify what you already are. Repeat the lines and shapes already in your body.
If you were asked for your definitions of wealth and beauty, would you have an answer?
Philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said,
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
There are forces that are bigger than us that we are part of. Our fingers and toes are antennae, like animal whiskers. Our five senses are receivers, not metaphorically, but quite literally, operating by the flow of charged particles. With Nature as our connection to those higher forces, using the sensors in our bodies, we can tap into these energies. It’s not hard. Everyone does it. We call them feelings. I recognize the word I use as beauty as something that feels good to look at. The same feeling of consistency from all five senses, from extraneous beauty as from the natural world.
We are sensitive to many forms of energy and levels of vibration. Extending our senses, as Neil Harbisson does in the reality-rocking video below or linked here at TED, prepares us to interface with other energy forms. Yes, you could decorate a log cabin in Art Deco colours. You might be unfettered by traditional decorating rules and think that looks great. Neil Harbisson might tell you that sitting in the cabin feels like the grocery aisle. The rest of us sense it as well, just using different equipment. Interesting how the sounds of people seem to be just a few notes. Think about this. Presumably, when he ‘saw’ these people, they were clothed. What if they’d been dressed in their own colours? Could each of us really be a single note?
We do have to dress. Appearance conflict does exist. Figuring we won’t be judged by our appearance is contrary to human evolution. Way back then, apperance was a survival decision based on energy recognition. Today, it’s energy recognition of a different sort.
The quote at the beginning above implies that no matter what we wear, we elicit the exact same feelings in a viewer. Here, we differ. You’ve seen my images in the article, The “I Know What Looks Good On Me” Dream. We don’t feel the same or expect the same of those women. Would you hire them for the same jobs? She’s the same woman. Same degree of intelligence, competence, humour, kindness. Would she attract the same man? Would he expect the same woman? We can be completely liberated from MediaBeauty and CultureBeauty and still feel that our response is different.
You sit across a table to interview three women. One is Kate Winslet in no makeup and a gray dress. The second Kate has copper hair with blonde streaks, wears a bright orange cardigan, no-colour lip gloss, and designer black framed glasses with little pink rhinestones in the temples and bar of the frame. The third has rose coloured lips that match the flowers in her dress, a plum cardigan, dove and soft plum eyeshadow, and soft light brown hair held back on one side with a silver clip. Would your impression be of three equal women? If yes, then you have a great kindness and imagination, and more time than most peole conducting interviews.
It also suggests that you have voluntary control over primitive brain regions that make instantaneous, subconscious brain decisions. I believe this processing occurs too quickly and is embedded too deep to access. There is another meaning for beauty, the Hollywood kind. Elizabeth Taylor, Zoe Saldana, they have beauty that we process instinctively and also at a cultural and more conscious level. It has to do with taste, time, and geography. It’s rather a shame that we use the same word for these two meanings, because this models&celebrities beauty brings us back to Hollywood definitions – those ones that I don’t buy into, because they can be packaged, propagandized, and artificially measured by whatever the scale du jour happens to be.
Clothes tell our story. Who we are today, and who we are all the time. Wearing the book of someone else or of nobody, our story becomes of someone else or nobody. We could wear long gray dresses to equalize everyone, but is it likely to happen? We are beautiful without colour, as many of the images in this article, but colour makes us more miraculous and more children of our planet.
All energy, no matter its form, is a multiplier of itself. Beauty in others enhances our own whatever form that beauty takes. It doesn’t detract. A beautiful presence in a room doesn’t render others less beautiful, everyone becomes lovelier. When one person shows non-judgment and forgiveness, everyone becomes more that way.
Yes, all people are beautiful, but in multiplying that beauty, it becomes even more of the original, a heightened awareness of reality. Adding wavelengths that clash with our own diminishes our signal. We are less present. Though the woman is the same, beautiful simply in the fullness of being here, we have dimmed her radiance. Her energy drops like a weak winter sun. You can see this easily during a colour analysis. Ask any of my students. They have all seen it. In conflicting colour, our ability to feel her dulls. We lose some of her.
When we reach for something, we push it further away. When there is no struggle, our energy (vibration in New Age parlance) rises. Looking believable, which is simply fidelity to how we were made, contains less struggle. Our story to our own ears and others’ is about our clarity, our fulfilling presence, the abundance of our reality just as it is.
In our own colours, we are effortless. When there is no effort, there is neither resistance nor force, neither pushing or pulling. Now, we are free to move forward in our best alignment and purpose. We are true extensions of the Universe as it is a true extension of us.