Ah Beauty, a notion alluding to ‘the qualities in a person that give pleasure to the senses or exalt the mind and spirit’. Now we’d be lying to ourselves if we don’t admit that, in some form or the other, we’ve never gone out of our way to aspire to it. From the stroke of my kohl eyeliner, to the depth of my lip stain, I am as guilty as anyone slave to the sensation of feeling ‘beautiful’. Yet having travelled across continents from a very young age, it didn’t take me long to realise that there’ll never be a universal agreement on what makes a person physically alluring. As friends in one side of the world obsess over products which lend their skin a fairer complexion, I find others glued to tanning beds -so eager to achieve the total opposite. So though there are so many of us are willing to enhance our features for the pursuit of feeling desirable, there are also diverse ideals which people have endlessly aspired to…
As I read of Cleopatra -who bathed in pools of milk, honey and almond oil- it is no secret to me that this notion has been mused over for centuries.
As an 1851 article confirms,
‘the ladies of Arabia stain their fingers and toes red, their eyebrows black and their lips blue. The modern Persians have a strong aversion to red hair…as the Turks on the contrary are warm admirers of it. In China, girls are continuously plucking their eyebrows that they may be thin and long’.
Even till this day, there is no doubt the concept of beauty is ultimately subjective, as it varies across cultures and social expectations. From the symbolic representation of the facial tattoos among the Chaouia women in the Aures Mountains of Algeria, to the eyelid surgeries of Koreans who value Caucasian-looking round eyes, people have always devoted time, energy and money towards enhancing their natural appearances. And though there really is no one beauty ideal aspired by all cultures and societies alike -there’s really nothing more alluring than a person’s inner charm.
Yes, as cliché as it may sound, even Cleopatra valued that although physical allure may attract the eye, it is by cultivating inner confidence, tenderness and sincerity that one truly achieves beauty. Notorious for her self-assured character, she has often been noted for her dedication to growing mentally and spiritually. Although there is nothing wrong with wanting to achieve the sensation of outer beauty at times, I find it always fulfilling to embrace those qualities which exalt the mind and spirit. So in an alternative take to where this article could have been heading, here are a few rituals to assist your pursuit in achieving inner beauty:
1- CONFIDENCE: Take pride in who you are as an individual. Despite being constantly exposed to unattainable ideals -in all their forms and contexts- know that there’s no such thing as perfection. It’s in embracing your qualities and imperfections that you will achieve this.
2-AMBITION: Set goals for yourself. And practice on achieving them every day, whether it be self-confidence or building up a healthier life style .
3-COMPASSION: Spend more energy helping others get what they want and less energy on a short-term sense of personal “gain” or “success”. Being open and understanding towards others is what will make you most desirable.