This April, the yama I’ve been studying and focusing on is bramachrya, nonexcess, and it’s gotten me thinking about beauty.
So often, I hear people talk about exercising and dieting because they want to look a certain way. I know I used to do that, too. For years, I would kill myself at the gym and had a terrible relationship with food because I was striving to fit society's mold.
It’s not our fault, though. Our culture is heavily concentrated on looks. Every where I turn I see and hear messages telling me what I should look like, and I see people going to extraordinary lengths to fit this ideal:
Hours at the gym, counting calories, eating this and not that, faux eyelashes, tattooed eyebrows, hair extensions, tans, heck, even surgeries. Not to mention the amount of money and time spent on makeup, beauty products, clothes…
But of course, right? I mean, literally every day we are told not only how we should look, but we are told that our worth depends on it.
Heck, I felt this message (this problem) was so prevalent, I went to graduate school to research its influences.
And now that May is rolling around the corner, god save us all, we’re entering into the dreaded “bikini body” season, where all of a sudden magazines and instagram tell us our worth boils down to how we look on the fucking beach #bikinbodyseries.
Ugh. Gag me.
This culture brings me back to April’s yama: bramachrya, nonexcess.
Let it be said: I love getting dolled up just as much as the next girl. Getting new clothes that make me feel great? LOVE IT! And there is nothing wrong with makeup or faux eyelashes, or just wanting to look good in general... it’s all well and good.
…To a point.
What IS harmful is when we cross the line of having fun with beauty, and enter into the realm of excess… when we become attached to the NEED to look a particular way and think we must look this way to be valued, worthy, loved, beautiful.
What I find damaging is overwhelming value we, as individuals and a culture, place on beauty.
It's toxic. I’ve been there, stuck in that place of thinking my worth is based on my beauty. That’s why I was addicted to exercise and beat myself up over everything I put in my mouth.
I needed to be stick-skinny to be loved. If there was any fat on my belly, I better cover it the fuck up. God forbid I leave the house without makeup on. I thought these things. I really, truly did.
The most powerful thing I ever did was work to get over this spell, to get over this idea that I needed to look a certain way, or that I should work out to "look good" in a bikini. HA. Dropping that last particular idea made working out SO MUCH MORE MEANINGFUL and GRATIFYING (see previous blog posts).
It didn’t happen overnight, of course, it actually took years... and only recently have I really been able to silence that inner critic voice inside me… and let’s be real, it still pops up here and there... of course it does.
But damn, the freedom I have being confident in the person I am, rather than focusing on the person I look like? Incredible.
And, the freedom I have in being confident in the person I look like, no matter how different it may be from our cultural standards? Well...Just picture me twirling around on a mountain somewhere, Sound of Music-style singing "THE HILLS ARE ALIVEEEEEE"... THAT'S how good it feels ;) .... and add in a middle finger to Hollywood among my twirls.
I see beauty in intellect, kindness, and passion.
So this is me saying to any of you who have felt like you need to diet and exercise in order to “look good” on the beach, or anywhere for that matter: (excuse my french, but) fuck that, you are beautiful right now, right as you are – AND, you are so much more than your body.
So this is me saying to any of you who have felt like you need to dye your hair and get a tan to be sexy: you’re sexy just how you are, with or without the hair and the tan - AND I’ll bet a lot of money that your mind is your sexiest asset of all.
Namaste, ya beautiful people. I see you.