Beauty.  Its a funny thing isn't it?

Lately I have been contemplating beauty very much.  The way our society shapes what we believe is beautiful, the marketing which directly influences that and the vast way in which this can differ from culture to culture.

I love watching documentaries about indigenous cultures.  The ways in which various cultures decorate their bodies fascinates me.  I have seen women who cover themselves in mud, sharpen their teeth to a point, and cover their body in amazing tattoos, decorate themselves and the list goes on.  These various practices can often reflect a myriad of strengths, as well as physical beauty like bravery, strength, endurance, position in the group and achievement.

These things to me are perhaps not traditionally beautiful, though I can appreciate the beauty within the context of their culture.  Which means beauty is not a universal standard, it is contextual.  

In these indigenous cultures it strikes me that wisdom and knowledge are highly valued, both of which come with age.  When technology is sparse or non-existent the knowledge of the community elders is greatly valued and needed.  

Then I look at our western culture and think hmmmm....we kinda have it back to front.  

We throw everything at our young people, the world is geared towards targeting those under a certain age.  Clothing, travel, so forth.  We first go to google before our elders.  To be perfectly honest, I'm not remotely convinced this is a healthy community model.  

In a true, real and traditional community, we are surrounded by people from different walks of life.  People who offer their opinions, sometimes unwanted yes, I'm sure!  But also people who offer wisdom would challenge us, grow us and who would RUB us, stretch us and essentially grow us.

Rub, it's a funny thing.  Yes uncomfortable, but take the example of a fruit tree.  When you prune a tree, it looks bare for a bit, but soon enough it grows like crazy and bursts forward with fruit.  We are designed to be pruned.  When there is no pruning, a tree grows out of shape, grows woody, and eventually stops producing fruit.  I think we as people do too.  Being around people who rub us, stretch us, is good for us to a degree.   

I think the Internet is an amazing tool, but it also has the ability to allow us to seek out those with similar interests and surround ourselves only with them.  It allows us to isolate ourselves from the bigger world, if we allow it.  

Which is a double edged sword.  It's an amazing thing to be able to find like minded people, but the danger is if we only surround ourselves with people who agree with us, have the same select view point of us, is that we take away the rub, we stop being pruned, and I wonder if that means, like a fruit tree we will stop producing fruit?

Excuse my rambling thoughts, This is related to beauty.  I promise.

So If beauty is defined by culture where do we sit?  Do the things we think are beautiful come from our values?  Or are they being forced upon us?  If beauty is something to appreciate, are we actually appreciating it or is it a burden we feel?

For me I realized I valued wisdom, which I believe is formed with age, knowledge and life experience.  There was a freedom that came with that.  My greys are no longer embarrassing.  They are simply a reflection of where I am in my life.  Because I see aging as something to value, I no longer feel tied to trying to hide my age, which is kinda freeing.

Clothing.  I love nature, sewing, raising my babies, natural fibers and living life the best I can.  So my idea of beauty has changed from being fashionable to being practical, with soft clothing, layers, loose dresses, big pockets and leggings so I can sit on the ground and play with my children with ease and comfort.  I foresee more linen in my wardrobe, its such a beautiful, comfortable fiber and wool, nothing beats wool.

I love hand made, hand crafted items, I love the time, the energy and the uniqueness of them so I take pride in making, or supporting those who make items.  Because I see beauty among the process, sustainability, time and craftsmanship.  It costs more, but I value it more and buy less as a result. 

This has allowed me to find my own style.  I love things which tell a story, which has helped me simplify.  many things in the shops are mass produced, and whilst I do see the prettiness in them, They are easy to walk away from.  Providing a comfortable, affordable home is also something I see as beautiful, so buying beautiful quality second hand goods is a way to bring thing in that are affordable, sustainable and often have a lovely story that goes with them. 

Anyway, I guess my point is, beauty is completely contextual, and realizing this has been freeing.  To look at my values, to see the beauty in them and by trying to outwork this throughout my persoanl style has been a great process, sometimes challenging.....but then again all things that are worth doing usually are.

Much Love,

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