Beauty From Within : Why Good Health is the Secret to Looking Good
Comparing the chests of my 15-year-old girlfriends with mine one day, my friend’s dad cheekily observed : “Meredith’s got melons, Elizabeth’s got apples and you’ve got raisins on a bread board, ha ha!”
Not longer after, my teenage male cousin and his friends teased me, “You’re a pirate’s dream … you’ve got a sunken chest!” Bam! The seeds were planted for my 25 year quest for physical perfection.
Even though I inherited the best of my parents’ genes, I could neither see nor appreciate it. Like countless modern day women, I thought my value was tied up in my appearance, as well as performance. In the way I managed my home, work, finances and image, I wanted to do more, be more … and look better than the woman next to me.
Growing up in Australia and under the influence of American culture, I was lured by images of physical perfection and it’s synonymity with success in life. The best jobs, the best men and the best things in life were handed out to women who fit a certain ideal of beauty.
Finally, two amazing chapters opened up in my life to put an end to all that crap, namely :
Moving to Paris; and
parisians don’t care about “perfection”
For the first time in my life, I enjoyed a love story with a Parisian man who actually adored, no - worshipped, my little boobies. Frenchmen love tiny espressos, not extra-large cappucinos, vous savez ? Plus, big boobs and French haute couture do not an artistic statement make (hello, Keira Knightly for Chanel). In the bin went my Aussie push-up bras!
Whether they’ve got melons, apples or raisons-on-a-bread-board, Parisian women don’t wear bras in the summertime (and probably don’t in winter, either). Quel liberation !
Frenchwomen abhor the look of someone trying too hard. Their allure lies in making the most of their natural assets. Eye lifts or skin tucks may discreetly be performed to maintain beauty, not to fit an ideal or flaunt as an asset. Tending to their appearances is more about self pampering than self torture. Because if a Frenchwoman feels good, she looks good.
You know that je n’ai sais quoi Frenchwomen have, that the whole world likes to endlessly dissect? They’re simply bien dans sa peau (comfortable in their own skin). Of course they take care of their silhouettes, but they also like who they are, know who they are, assert who they are and are confident in themselves. Sexiness for Frenchwomen is not about how they look; it’s a state of mind.
turning 50 and healthy
During my 40s, I stopped caring about the mindless accumulation and consumption of ‘stuff’. As I decluttered and simplified my wardrobe, home and life, I did the same for my dinner plate. I easily lost weight and maintained it, while embracing more vigorous yoga, and taking up swimming and running.
It dawned on me that I shone my brightest having an uncluttered life and home, and being the healthiest I’d ever been. I felt liberated, light and limitless.
I stopped caring about how I looked for anyone else, except moi. I was able to look at myself naked in the mirror and finally love and accept what I saw - wrinkles, sun spots, scars and all.
Australian women spend a fortune and precious hours and days out of their lives in botox, laser and cosmetic surgery clinics. Add hair extensions, teeth whitening, botox, brow tattoos, eyelash extensions, hair salon visits every other day, spray tans and artificial nails. I understand the quest to look one’s best, and even tried some of those enhancements myself over the years. As I approached 50 though, I realised that I prefer to be100% real and relaxed, than faux and in a state of eternal, exhausting and expensive physical vigilance.
7 ways sustainable beauty is an inside job
Daily movement and nourishment is my foundation for peak physical condition. When our bodies are at their healthiest, we don’t need embellishment; embellishment then becomes simply a nice enhancement of what is already beautiful, not a way to disguise a lack of self-care.
Your healthiest self - the one who eats well, sleeps well, moves her body and looks after her body’s needs - has naturally glowing skin, glossy hair, sparkling eyes and a joie de vivre that can never be replicated with anything artificial.
I’ve come to terms with the damage I’ve caused my body over the decades - baking in the Ausssie sunshine being at the top of that list! However, having a healthy silhouette, toned muscles, great posture and a big smile diminishes the effects of any scars, sun spots or wrinkles I have.
The careful management of our minds can actually reverse the effects of ageing. I cultivate calm with daily meditation and practice an attitude of gratitude. I think of myself as ageless and fully intend to live to 100! As Deepak Chopra says, “People don’t grow old. When they stop growing, they become old”.
Being willing to self-evaluate and evolve develops inner poise, presence and a quiet “knowing”, which is reflected in the way our facial features and expressions form over time. Self knowledge is sexy. As they saying goes: as within, so without!
Women have been embellishing and adorning themselves for millenia and it’s wonderful to celebrate and enhance femininity. We may also need a confidence boost at times, perhaps after childbirth, around the menopause years or facing serious health challenges. Ultimately though, the most beautiful version of you is the one that starts with the beautiful, natural self she was born as. That healthy, shining, happy woman is inside you, and she is already enough.