The Beauty Reality Gramby Neva K. Read
Published: March 2, 2017
This is the first installment of the #SkintoSoulBeauty series.
Audrey Hepburn once said that, “the beauty in a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart; the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.”
Yet today that aesthetic — that belief in soul beauty — has been lost and given over, to one that feeds on our outer appearance for significance.
When I look around at the world today, I see women and girls on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat using what God, and sometimes a plastic surgeon, gave them to get more affirmation— likes, clicks, comments and followers, all the while blind to the true beauty that lies within. I see YouTube crammed with make-up fanatics, covering up gorgeous skin and plastering stunning eyes with foundations, creams and highlights that take away from their natural beauty and I sigh. If only they knew how gorgeous they are already.
For the record, I believe makeup rocks if it’s used to enhance your already existing beauty, not cover it up.
There’s one villain I particularly loathe when it comes to how women view their beauty. The porn industry has distorted what beauty is, especially to men, and they have unconsciously or consciously projected those expectations onto women. Like vampires, porn sucks the lifeblood out of men who don’t understand the long-term ramifications of their habits, and in turn, they promote and worship an unattainable view of beauty.
Those expectations have spilled over into the general beauty industry and today “it”— the beauty industrial complex— has become increasingly superficial, focused on hair, body, face, nails, fashion.
Inner beauty has been cast aside and as a result many women beholden to the industry, are finding themselves lost, anxious and depressed. The truth, whether we like it or not, is that neither clothes or shoes, great abs or a boob job can give you inner peace, purpose and contentment, nor can trying to compete with, or otherwise imitate models and celebrities.
Don’t get me wrong. I love looking great, I adore stylish clothes and my shoe collection makes my husband sigh in frustration. But overly focusing on my outward appearance, which used to take at least 70% of my effort, sapped me of joy. To be honest, it exhausted me. Behind closed doors I was lonely, depressed and hating myself and my inability to be physically perfect. Thank God this shifted radically once I realised that what truly counts is what lies within.
Here’s the 411: If women were to truly understand and embrace their own unique inner beauty and make that the focus of their lives, they would break out from the oppression of consumerism and self hate, gain self confidence like you wouldn’t believe. They would attract the most amazing mates and partners to their side, be unleashed in their purpose to create business empires and help heal a world that is in need of kindness, compassion and community.
So why are we buying a view of beauty that is so distorted?
The thing is, the concept of inner beauty doesn’t sell. It doesn’t make money for big cosmetic companies corporations. So they go out of their way to tell us otherwise.
And what exactly are those beauty lies that the world out there is spinning, that the cosmetic world, beauty brands fashion labels and the media are feeding you, in the hopes of making a quick buck?
MYTH NUMBER ONE: OTHERS DETERMINE MY BEAUTY
In my 20s (pre-Instagram), I was a fashion freak. I combed through beauty magazines for what others were wearing, what was trending and making waves in the beauty world. Armed with this knowledge and financially free, I spent thousands of dollars on designer clothes, shoes, and cosmetics in the hopes of enhancing my status, love life and looks. I also put great value in the compliments I got from friends and colleagues on my style. In fact I craved them, and when I didn’t get the feedback I so desperately desired I’d get depressed. The affirmation from others about my beauty was all consuming.
What I forgot to do was focus on my character and spirit as well. So while I might have been a very well dressed twenty something, I wasn’t the nicest person to be around. I picked up and discarded people like I did my clothes. I took friends for granted. I stomped my way up the career ladder at the expense of those I worked with.
I couldn’t keep a man because frankly I had no compassion, nor the ability to appreciate love in my life. But I looked awesome. Sadly, what goes around came around and bit me in the ass, and for that I am grateful because I now know I was focused on the wrong thing entirely. I saw the error of my ways and realized that I needed to define beauty from the inside, from within myself.
MYTH NUMBER TWO: BEAUTY = SUCCESS
For all the clothes, shoes, make-up, spa treatments, etc. I spent copious amount of money on over the years, by age 30 I had very little to show for it.
Tragically as my life illustrated, outward beauty did not equate to success. Instead I was actually a member of the urban ‘beautiful’ yet poor people, desperate and not thriving.
There are so many girls I knew back then and now who look the part – they’re wearing the right clothes, sporting the right shoes, rocking tight abs and glowing gorgeous on Insta, but those same girls are in massive debt or scarily living from pay check to pay check.
They can’t afford to buy a home even if they wanted to. They can’t keep relationships because they’re so fixated on themselves to clearly see what needs fixing.
As a result of life not going their way inspite of all their hard work on their appearance, they’re anxious, angry, lonely and depressed and sometimes abusing drugs and alcohol. Yet the quiet, wise achievers who’ve seen through the lies of the beauty industry are reaping success. They’ve sorted their sh*t out and have planned and strategised to create long-term wealth, legacies and nest eggs to take them through life.
I’m not saying that you reject the beauty industry as a path to success. No. What I’m saying is don’t put your eggs into one basket called external beauty. Instead, create balance in your life and be wise in planning your future to ensure your overall success. More on that later.
MYTH NUMBER THREE: BEAUTY HAS ONE LOOK, AND YOU’RE NOT IT!
The common, universally acceptable concept of beauty is one that perpetuates ‘perfection’— a word I have come to loathe over time. No one is perfect yet magazines, ads and the beauty industrial complex tells us that beauty is synonymous with perfection. In the beauty world, everyone is flawless, touched up, made-up, dewy skinned, pouty lipped, skinny, exquisitely curved and carved, more than often European, and oh-so-perfect.
“Here we have the concept of “perfect” which the beauty industry teaches us is the ultimate goal to happiness and joy, yet we are also constantly reminded that “nobody is perfect.
“Basically, it is impossible to ever achieve this goal. It becomes a never ending cycle of self-hatred, followed by seeking external pleasure to fill internal voids.” (Irwin Ozborne)
In other words, when the image you’re told is beautiful does not match what you see in the mirror, you begin to loathe yourself then seek relief in the very things telling you you’re not good enough: clothes, labels, brands and lifestyles of the rich and famous. This is where self harm and self-destruction begins.
When girls as young as nine or ten tell you they’re ugly, because they’re comparing their innocent unique selves to a mass market image of beauty, then we’re in trouble.
“If we can change the train of thought to realise that everything about us is already perfect, there would be no more comparison, and trying to be something we are not. Instead, loving what we already possess and loving everything about everyone else.
This is a concept known as unconditional love. It means to love without condition, without judgment, and to accept completely as it is. This means to not complain, question, or have a desire to change, but to accept perfectly as it is in the present moment.” (Irwin Ozborne)
MYTH NUMBER FOUR: YOLO
“You only live once—so go for that badass boob job. You only have one chance to be beautiful, so fix that nose now, blow most of your income this month on that treatment or new make-up kit. This is your last and only chance to fix your looks to get what you want in life.”
Hold up. That’s what the world out there is telling you. It’s not what you need though. What you need to realise is that to cosmetic brands, plastic surgeons, the porn industry and beauty companies, your insecurities are their profit margin.
You may think your life will improve after you wear that “killah” dress, buy that awesome shoe or book in that booty changing treatment. It won’t.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t improve yourself as you see fit but if all of your self-esteem is hinged on fixing what doesn’t need to be fixed in order to feel beautiful then we have a problem.
You need to improve your self-esteem. You need to believe in yourself. It’s not easy, I know. Life can and has probably thrown many challenges your way that have dented how you feel about yourself. Perhaps that’s why you’re meant to be reading this now.
The saying goes, ‘you will find what you seek when you seek it inside yourself.’ How? Hold on tight. I’ll share what I’ve learnt and gleaned along my #skintosoulbeauty journey to help you on yours.
MYTH NUMBER FIVE: YOUR SKIN, NAILS AND HAIR NEED TO BREATHE
(Stick with me here!) You’ve heard it—in ads and on beauty blogs— that in order to stay healthy your hair, skin and nails need to breathe. Total myth.
“Skin, nails, and hair don’t breathe topically,” says Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, board-certified dermatologist and member of the American Academy of Dermatology.
“When we think of breathing, we think of getting nutrients. But the hair, the skin, and the nails don’t get nutrients from the surface, they get nutrients from within, so the concept of things needing to breathe doesn’t ring true scientifically.”
True. What’s even truer is that YOU need to stop and take a deep breath. To stop running after fads and trends.
To pause the negative self talk, to ease off the body self-shaming, to end the copious spending and to stop looking for validation from external sources.
You need to take a breath and look at yourself. Look inside yourself to discover what is truly beautiful about you from within. We all need to dive deeper under the skin and discover what defines, refines and what is divine about yourself.
So how do you do that?
You start with the soul.
Neva’s best selling guide on true beauty, “#SkintoSoulBeauty Unleashed” is now available on Amazon. For more on the #skintosoulbeauty movement, visit https://www.skintosoul.co and follow us on Instagram ~ @skintosoulbeauty.
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