Beauty - What is it?

01 Oct 2016

Everyone’s definition of Beauty is different.  Of course.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say.

There is a “formulaic” definition of beauty and it is one which is promoted in the media and advertising.  We can’t all subscribe to this definition and just because many of us don’t, doesn’t mean we can’t be thought of as “beautiful”. 

In fact, many people think that whatever steers away from the norm is more beautiful, for its diversity or uniqueness.  Difference can be eye-catching, inspiring, challenging and have its own beauty because of this. 

There is an increasing undercurrent of restlessness with the advertising/media world’s definition of beauty.  This definition is seen as exclusive, not inclusive.  It overlooks an enormous part of the human race, and what it really means to be human. 

Physical beauty is more than skin-deep because actually it is a collage of “animations”:  the way someone holds themselves, moods and expressions, emotions passing over a face, the arch of an eyebrow,  the curl of a lip, the way the hair falls, a curve on the body, a smile, the glint of an eye. 

Beauty is also in the knowing.  Familiarity doesn’t just sometimes breed contempt, it can also breed appreciation, love, admiration and a recognition of beauty.  Sometimes, the more we know someone, the more we see their inner beauty on the surface.  This really is a case of beauty in the eye of the beholder.  It is what we see on a very personal, subjective level.

We can see how fluid a definition it can be, and therefore, how fascinating and beautifully unpredictable. 

This is why some fashion designers have been challenging our concepts of beauty with their models.  Make-up artists and hairstylists for the catwalk shows have been turning Beauty on its head.  Guido, hairstylist for Givenchy and Marc Jacobs says, “who’s to say what is right and wrong now?  Who is telling us what is beautiful?  I think we have to challenge our ideas about beauty.  Otherwise we’re just limited by them”.   Marc Jacob’s new campaign uses Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson as unlikely muses and his Autumn/winter show could be said to have been a disturbing view of beauty. 

Erdem Moralioglu says he has always been “drawn to an imperfect beauty” and celebrates a more natural beauty in his designs for women.

There are an increasing number of movements devoted to championing unexpected “looks” as beautiful, or equally beautiful as those images found in the media.

All Walks Catwalk is a movement which campaigns for diverse body and beauty ideals in Fashion and the media.  The Council of Fashion Designers of America issued diversity guidelines for September’s Fashion Week this year.  The designer Christian Siriano used plus-sized models and those from different ethnic backgrounds in his shows, Michael Kors used models aged 17-43.  Tom Ford and Vetements are embracing the new “buy it now” fashion shows where catwalks must better reflect the consumer who might want to buy instantly.

The photographer Peter Lindbergh takes black and white photos of  his models to help him see “under the skin” of them.  It is about them as individuals.  Cindy Crawford says of his work, “it is like being photographed right when you wake up in the morning”.  

Growing old needn’t be the end of beauty.  It is just another form of it.  As the journalist, Andrew O’Hagan writes “the greatest beauty is distinguished by knowledge, skill, spirit and longevity”.  He promotes the idea that there is a deeper fascination with beauty as it matures and a more fluid interpretation:  “If you are interested in a woman, you are taken with her beauty’s changefulness, its complications, its mysteries , and you come to see how the vagaries of time supply oxygen to the elegance of what she has”.

We must look at our own prejudices and definitions and challenge them.  

As a personal stylist, who takes a therapeutic, positive, nurturing and intuitive approach to styling, I love to find the beauty in people who can’t see it in themselves.