I attended a two week meditation retreat where I could not wear jewelry, makeup, speak, listen to music, watch TV, go on a computer, talk on the phone (I broke out in a rash over that one) or sleep past 4 a.m. I survived it. I liked not talking to people (because I usually chat with anyone and everyone,) or having to check my ever-burgeoning email. I hated getting up at 4. There were male participants; we were not allowed to interact. I kept staring one particularly handsome man, but kept feeling guilty because I was meant to be focused on meditation. Why, when we are trying to be spiritual, are we expected to look our worst and avoid our sexuality? Why do we connect spirituality, strength, and humility with ugly?
This is a bigger issue than you may think. What does it mean for a woman to be spiritual, successful, taken seriously, and also embrace her beauty and feminine power completely and fully? When I worked at CNN and FOX News Channel making up the talking heads, I remember that the female higher-ups were deeply concerned with this fact. Take Christiane Amanpour, the Chief International Correspondent for CNN and altogether brilliant woman. When I made her up, she was clear:
“Very little makeup. Just some brown lipstick,” she said as she sat down in my chair.
“She means she wants mud on her lips,” smugly commented her assistant with her arms folded across her chest.
“No, it’s not mud, just natural brown, you know . . .” countered Christiane.
“I’d really like to try some plum lipstick on you, it would look very pretty . . .” I offered, holding up a tube of MAC Odyssey lipstick.
“Yes! Yes! You must try it! Oh yes!” jumped the assistant. Christiane agreed, and I applied the plum.
It took a good five minutes of encouragement for her to actually walk out of the greenroom wearing it; it looked beautiful. Her concern? Being taken seriously. Glamour and intelligence are apparently polar opposites.
We have come a long way to be accepted as empowered females in our primarily patriarchal society, yet we have a hit a snag. I call it, “The Ugly Snafu”, or “US”. It’s a Big Matzo Ball Snafu US has discovered. It goes against the grain in our development to have greater consciousness. The spirituality movement has gained great momentum thanks to Oprah, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, and others, and I am very grateful. I live in Boulder, Colorado, a Mecca of sorts for alternative everything-spirituality. It’s also the fittest place in the United States and the worst dressed. I blame this on the penchant for exercise coupled with a zest for all things homeopathic, green, recycled, and gluten free. So we are fit, healthy, meditating, and never put a tin can in the garbage, but we look like shit. Why is this okay?
Often, there is this reptilian like resistance to fashion and glamour. You can meditate and quote Tolle, but if you wear makeup you’re toast. I waltz around in heels, dresses, makeup, and am a diva in my own right, while embracing spirituality and fitness; a wart on the butt of Boulder. Perhaps our resistance to outer beauty is in reaction to the completely exhausted and over-baked vision of the fashion world. We are sick of seeing 15-year-old models wear the latest trend with pouty lips and no ass. We are beyond sick of it and in fact can’t get our heads out of the toilet we are so very done with it. Does that mean I stop taking care of myself and stick up my nose at women who do? Why do we define ourselves according to what we DON’T believe, as opposed to what we do? If I hate fashion does that mean I dress like I don’t care and say it doesn’t matter? Do I surrender the wonderful glories of being a feminine being in order to show I don’t give a damn? Is that who we are?
Maybe we are in too deep: defining ourselves as feminine doesn’t necessarily mean we shop all the time, stress out over shoes, or pay $50 for a silly lipstick. Femininity can be budget conscious and practical. Do we resist because we are competing with the men? I believe that there is masculine and feminine energy and that we all, both men and women, contain a mixture of both energies. Some men have a lot of feminine energy (and that doesn’t mean they are gay,) and some women I swear have their own gonads, yet are 100% female. What does it mean to be a female, welcome both energies, and embrace beauty? And our beauty, not the fashion industries projection of it?
I worked as an international model for many years attempting to fulfill the fashion world’s idea of beauty. In the end, I felt like a failure because my butt would just not stay that small. I have since regrouped and decided that my size is perfect for me and to hell with everyone else, (I am a size 8.) That doesn’t mean that I go Ugly. As a matter of fact, I take better care of my body now than when I modeled, but I do it with self love, not self loathing; a huge difference.
Maybe this is the crux of it. If you let go of the reptile of, “it doesn’t matter and I don’t care so to heck with everyone else,” you are left with the bottom line; LOVE. Do you love your body? Do you love being a woman or a man? It starts with the soul (or heart in case you are Buddhist), but it doesn’t end there. It radiates outward. You don’t go from the outside in, which is the failing of the fashion industry, but neither do you go from the soul and then stop at the doorway as if going further limits your spiritual power.
Does it say I love myself when I don’t take care of myself? Am I pursuing ugly in resistance to my own demons around beauty brought on by our culture of appearances? I say, let’s just drop the whole banana and start over. Let’s let the inner ugly reptile that aids in our resistance just slither back under the rock and re-discover who we are as the divine feminine. I postulate that we are Goddesses, Empresses, Queens, and Diva’s—with no negative connotations like an exorbitant ego attached to those words. Can I be a Goddess and be humble, gentle, powerful, kick-ass, and do it all in heels and red lipstick? Why not? Let’s create our own image and no longer allow our culture to dictate ‘US’ any longer.