by Lisa Alvarado
Let me get this out of the way at the outset. I am not a 'beautiful' woman. And I say this not as a fishing expedition, "Oh, but Lisa, you are! Really!" Looking at the popular culture around me, I do see somewhat more variety as to the female iconography. But am I beautiful? Not by even those post-modern, post-feminist standards. I still see too many 'Tyra/Demi/Salma' impossible-to-achieve without an arsenal of effects. (This is not to say I don't find these women beautiful.) The plus here is that more multi-cultural goddesses are being touted as the ideal. I do think I am interesting, compassionate, that I have a certain look that says: individualist and yes, artist. What I believe is that real beauty, mine and that of other women, is one full of our ‘flaws,’ our changing bodies, our idiosyncratic selves, and our unique physicality. It’s based on the deepest wellspring, our spiritual selves, our connection to Source.
I’ll use more of my own story to illustrate. I’m not tall, lanky, neither am I 22, 32, or 42. Over time I got comfortable with this small, curvy body, the softening slopes of it as I enter midlife. My legs are strong, my naked back reminds me of that May Ray photo, 'le violon d' Ingres.' And my hair is soft even though I keep it this short. I realize it's a lynchpin for many -- but I feel it communicates that a woman's essential feminine self can be expressed in a variety of ways, and I love the texture of it underneath my hand. That being said, I don't think I would ever grace the cover of a magazine. Truth be told, I fret over my hands and feet--the tips of my fingers get calloused from making things, from doing, and my feet tell the story of someone who stood on them for a good part of her working life.
Do I think I can draw people to me? Some people, yes. Here's why. Just like my theory about my own writing, I think that when I am connected to the juice, the rhythm/spirit of the living world, I feel a liveliness, a personal juiciness. And I mean that in the broadest, deepest, most fully realized and luscious sense. Conversely, when I am feeling shriveled, tired, worried, I think how I present, how I appear, changes to reflect that. So, somehow it's a statement of personal liberation to say 'beautiful' is truly a relative thing.
I will ask readers to comment because this feels like an evolving discussion for the women and men I am blessed enough to call friends.
Much love to all you beauties reading this.