Guilty Pleasures: Beauty Makes Us Happy

Beauty is really important to me. That’s the truth. I love art, design, gardens, purses, and make-up even though it melts away during my busy day and I have no time for a touch up. And of course, I love beautiful faces. I see them every day, from smooth, sweet-smelling babies, to tired but happy moms, to softly wrinkled grannies. Each face has a story. Each face exhibits unique outer features, but radiates with the special glow that can only come from inner beauty.

It is so easy to witness this beauty in others, but why is it so hard to see it in ourselves? And thus, we all have a few props to help get past our self-critical mirrors. Each woman makes choices…a nice pair of earrings, a great cut and color, favorite jeans that make your butt look cute, the perfect lipstick, an organic moisturizer. Why is it that we feel guilty about wanting to feel beautiful? Is it frivolous, vain, shallow, and selfish to feel good about ourselves? Is it worth it to put time and energy into beauty? Are we selling out unless we go gray and age naturally? Earth WIthout Art

I would argue that beauty is necessary, and that it is yours to define. We seek to feel beautiful and comfortable in own skin. Yet we apologize for the happiness we get from simple pleasures, sheepishly admitting to a pedicure when it’s not sandal weather. But here’s the thing, our beauty rituals are actually a valuable form of self-care, defined by Michelle Segar, PhD, as “any activity that nurtures and restores.” She goes on, “Taking time for self-care — whether that means booking a massage or taking a walk — is critical to our well being, yet women don’t do it nearly enough. Mostly because we’re so busy taking care of everyone else.” However, “Your beauty routine won’t work as true self-care if you’re following it only as a result of societal pressures about how you should look,” explains Dr. Segar.

Beauty is important in our environment as well. We know the power of architecture to transform cities, of gardens to feed spirits as well as bellies, of art to inspire us, and of a clean closet to give us clarity and peace. We may roll of our eyes at Martha Stewart’s perfect home, but secretly wish our holiday table looked like hers. We are grateful for a simple bouquet of flowers to brighten the mood. Somehow creating beauty in our environment and appreciating it’s presence in everyday life makes us feel more beautiful.

And for some reason, we aren’t judgmental in a negative way towards the woman who has the house that she has transformed into a showcase (unless it’s Martha!) though sometimes we allow ourselves to feel “less than” if we don’t measure up to her domestic prowess. Though I have other accomplishments, I can’t quite keep up with my house and it’s piles of books and mail….heavy sigh. When I have a fleeting victory and clear the clutter, the house looks beautiful, and I feel more confident and yes, I’ll say it, beautiful!

Tara Mohr of Wise Living, says “It’s important because beauty connects us to joy, to contentment, to our souls. Beauty is soul food. This is not a fluffy matter.”

The kind of beauty I think most of us seek is real beauty, blending our inner selves full of confident, radiant energy with our outer beauty and our physical environment, and accepting that we are unique. Photoshop doesn’t work in real-time, even for celebs and models. This is powerful beauty. The US ranks 67th in the world for women involved in positions of political power, and it is not much better in corporate board rooms. Mohr states, ” Is it any wonder that we’ve replaced it with ideas about beauty that instead leave most women feeling powerless in the world? Like they don’t measure up?”

We find this powerful, real beauty in settings that allow us to let our radiant selves shine to illuminate the world. Our beautiful props…. the lipstick, the earrings, aren’t necessary, but help to convey our message and sometimes speak without words. Let self-care, confidence and nurturance be the guiding force in our beauty rituals and adornments.

Beauty is the active, living, divine spirit within all things. We see it in our environment, in artistic creation, in others, and if we look very closely and with great love, we can see it in ourselves. That makes me very happy.