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Defining Human Beauty

May 04, 2022 6 min read 2 Comments

Q at the beach

What is beauty? The most obvious phrase that comes to mind is “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Simple right? But the more I think about this, the more I’ve come to realize that “Beauty is in the mind of the beholder.” We all have personal preferences when it comes to physical beauty. But where do they come from?

We often seem to forget that physical beauty is the most fleeting, and the most difficult, to define. From my point of view – beauty is far more than what people see at first glance. So much more. 

Awareness of Beauty and Its Power

My definition of beauty has never changed. It simply expanded.

I became aware of the differences early on — when I had crushes on attractive boys who were not nice to less attractive girls. And when some of the most physically beautiful popular girls in junior high proved to be so selfish and mean.

I grew up in an area of the USA where my public high school had exactly one person of African American descent. Talk about one note…. beige… or to be clearer…. white. My sisters and I were the first generation of our family born in America, but ours was still a Caucasian world.

Beauty is a Social Construct

I remember sitting in the cafeteria my first year at University and being fascinated by the colorful texture of my fellow students. Black, Hispanic, and International students who spoke perfect English, and openly gay students as well. It all seemed so exotic… and truthfully… wonderful. I was quickly aware of the narrow constructs of the world in which I’d grown up.   

Q Ralph Lauren

I am quite clear that my wanderlust was truly cemented during these years of making friends from all corners of the globe. I knew I was not going on to Law School. I was going to see and taste the world.

Luckily for me, a scout from a NY modeling agency wandered up to me on campus and asked me if I’d ever modeled. I fit her social construct to a T. Fast forward through a decade and a half of traveling the world as a commercial model. 

Modeling is a brutal industry. You are too old, too fat, too this, too that…and when I began my career, appearing ethnic was certainly not going to be the pathway to a major advertising contract. Happily, much has changed over the last few decades.

Throughout two careers that have involved extensive travel, I’ve developed a different filter for seeing the world. It has become important to me to honor and embrace the beauty ideals of other cultures and places.

women wearing neck rings

Photo:The Practice Of Neck Elongation is ancient. Neck rings are worn for different reasons peculiar to the person and their tribe, but the most obvious one is to create an impression of a long neck.

Beauty Begins from the Inside Out

However, all my thoughts above only reference physical beauty.  Because I create one-of-a-kind jewelry collections intended to make women feel beautiful, I often find myself thinking about what constitutes true beauty. And I believe that every woman deserves to feel beautiful.

The most beautiful woman I’ve ever met was Celeste Martin Rast. Celeste was already past 80 and she was the most alive human I’d ever encountered. Full of energy, full of adventure, full of love for everyone and everything. I’d never met another human so ready to help others – even in the midst of her own health challenges. A beautiful spirit was always shining out of her eyes. She even passed away in the most wonderful way.  She was sewing costumes at Church and someone thought she had nodded off to sleep. Celeste left the planet as peacefully as she lived on it. Celeste was truly beautiful. 

woman in red hat

I enjoy physical beauty as much as the next person. Because of having a life lived all over the world, my concept of physical beauty has widened immensely.  

I believe most people have their opinions formed first by culture and then by media. 

I know you are supposed to say that “inner beauty is more important than outer beauty,” but I think that is the wrong way of approaching the subject.

If you have inner beauty and depth it is impossible to not be perceived as beautiful by the people who can truly see. But something must shift inside for you to be able to see, or be seen, in this manner.

CONFUCIUS QUOTE

Confucius said, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see it.”

How true this is.

Two Sides of Beauty

True beauty is twofold for me. And both areas are equally important.

The first has to do with physical beauty, but not pretty hair or eyes. It has to do with health and fitness. We all fall short of taking care of ourselves during different periods of life, but there is a sense of well-being and confidence that comes from being fit and healthy. From eating well to getting those daily steps in, self-care creates beauty from within.

The second is about the spirit that lives within each of us. I have a theory that some of my friends laugh about, but I have observed it for decades. The older we get the more our life experiences become etched upon our face. Much is beyond our control.

Think about the person who shines with a positive spirit and a love for life and people.  What does that face look like?  It has nothing to do with age or wrinkles or perfect proportion. A positive spirit will be perceived and remembered long after an initial meeting.

And the opposite is also true. Every neighborhood had a grumpy old man or woman when I was a kid. Looking back now, I realize these people could have been as young as 40. I believe a dissatisfaction with life and a lack of gratitude becomes etched in someone’s face over time. When I meet these people I try to find compassion because I have no clue what their experiences have been. 

Beauty All Around Us

Over and over, I have found my “theory” to be true. During my second trip to New Zealand I attended a Christian church service with two women I’d met on my first trip.  Both had heavy facial tattoos. It would have been easy to focus on the tattoos rather than on the women. Fortunately, I was wrapped in their upbeat spirit and captivated by their energy. That is the beauty I saw.

ORINI KAIPARA

Photo: Veteran New Zealand journalist Oriini Kaipara made historyas the first woman with a moko kauae to anchor a mainstream news bulletin. Kaipara’s face tattoo honors her Maori heritage.

I feel my most beautiful when I am well slept, in my normal fitness mode and fitting into my clothes appropriately. I try not to get hung up on numbers. I am 5’11” and of Nordic/Eastern European descent. That number will never be low! But I can be mindful of my health and my spirit, and trust that beauty to show. 

International careers allow me to interact with people of almost every race, creed, and color. Rather than seeing them in movies, as we did as kids, I now meet them as fellow humans – and spirits.

Why revise my perspective? Because when it comes right down to it…we are all one.

A few years ago, I was shooting an interview for the morning show in Alicante, Spain.  The director’s assistant from Morocco was all of 5’ tall and he chain smoked in my face the entire time he was holding a reflector under my chin to remove shadows. At one point he looked at me and asked, “Miss Q…..how do you ever expect to find a husband and have babies when you are so tall?" I was speechless. The camera man was shaking with laughter. I was a scary freak to this gentleman. There you have proof that beauty is a construct.

True beauty is a balance of internal and external factors. For me, they key is knowing that I do not have a need to please others in any way. It is my wish that all women feel this way. I know where I feel best, and I dress and adorn to please myself.  

As I said in the beginning, “beauty is in the mind of the beholder.” Choose to celebrate your beauty.

woman in hijab


2 Responses

Kathy
Kathy

July 20, 2022

Well done blog. You are a great writer, speak from the heart and will make a change in the minds of others who are captivated (and brain washed) by advertising telling people who they SHOULD be.
Rock on !

Karen King
Karen King

July 20, 2022

Suzanne, your thoughts are always so eloquent. I strongly suspect it is because you speak directly from your heart.

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