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Show something beautiful

July 14th, 2004 · 5 Comments

Thoughts on beauty and blogging

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write, and waiting to write, until I had the time, so I could try to clarify and share some thoughts.

I fear that as I write here, too often I seem to be negative when I am blogging about beauty. I’ve criticized cosmetic surgery, young men and women literally losing face on TV and the $75K cost of transforming oneself into an imitation icon.

But I believe in beauty. I believe that women are beautiful, without needing a knife or nose job. Maybe they don’t look like Britney or someone seen on a big screen, but millions of girls are gorgeous. There are plenty of pretty faces and figures in the world. Women are beautiful, naturally. They are original masterpieces. Women (and men) are works of art.

Women crave beauty and create beauty. If I were to write a response to Dave Pollard’s post describing What Men Really Want, I’d say one thing women want is beauty. For some this means sewing with a needle and for others it means going under a needle. Women want to be beautiful and they want to be surrounded by beauty. Some decorate with cross-stitches and curtains. Some plant flowers and paint walls. Some paint their nails and plck their brows. Some hack pretty code. The definition and implementation are different for each woman. Yet I believe the desire is the same.

I don’t think women should deny or suppress this desire; it is good. Sometimes in our society the physical appearance receives the emphasis, and so women are drawn to decorating themselves. Appearance is the easiest aspect to judge, evaluate and improve. Yet I believe that people have beauty of the mind, emotions and soul as well as the body. And I believe it is a part of a woman’s nature to seek out beauty in her life. To desire loveliness and want to see it in herself.

When I read stories describing women who long to resemble a popular pretty face or hope a surgeon will give them a Barbie doll body, I wish they could see that they don’t need an operation to overhaul their sense of worth and self-acceptance. I wish each woman could celebrate how lovely she is, to feel confident in her own way, to enjoy her own unique beauty. I feel passionate about this and so I post on it. And I wish women would value a holistic sense of beauty, not just removing wrinkles and cellulite, but seeking something inside. I want each woman to see that there’s more to her than what meets the eye.

Women want beauty. And I think men want beauty too. Although it didn’t appear as a point in Dave Pollard’s post.

As I post here, sometimes I don’t communicate with the clarity I want. It’s not always pretty. Sometimes I’m in a mood. Most of the time, given my daily schedule, it is late at night when I write. What gets left on this page is often what’s left of me at the end of the day.

Recently I’ve had a hard time finding time to write. Life’s been busy. The summer days are full. I’ve started to have doubts about blogging. After taking a break for a few days last week, it was difficult to start again. Where to begin? Why am I posting on this blog? What is it I am trying to do?

A couple weeks ago, as I was taking a break from blogging, I rode the ferry one morning. It was a commuter boat and I noticed many women who were dressed sharp, nice clothes with hair and makeup to match, on their way to an office. In my at-home-mommy community, most women I see choose practical attire: it’s a wash-and-wear world. That day on the boat I was wearing a T-shirt and shorts. It was warm and we had to walk. I wanted to be comfortable for the hike with my baby backpack. Necessity dictated my outfit. When I figure I’m going to get covered with gelato, dirty sneakers and bits of lunch, I figure why try to dress elegant.

But when I saw these lovely women on the boat, I immediately felt grubby. I wished I was wearing nicer clothes. I wanted to trade my T-shirt and tennis shoes for a summer dress and sandals.

I don’t think of myself as a woman who pursues beauty with an intense passion. Casual and practical would be better words to describe me and my home. But there on the boat I couldn’t deny it. I saw how I wanted to be pretty. I saw that desire deep within me to be beautiful.

At BloggerCon in April, Dave Winer said something about beauty that has stayed with me, simmering inside me and inspiring me these past few months. In a session with John Perry Barlow, he said (according to my notes, please correct me if I am wrong)

…can you show me something beautiful? That’s the most amazing thing you can do on your blog.

Something hot. Something profound. Something informative. Something funny. That’s what I thought belonged in blogs. But something beautiful? I hadn’t thought of blogging and beauty together in the same sentence. What Dave said challenged me and began to change what I valued, what I saw, read and wrote as the purpose of posts.

I know that I’m not always beautiful on this blog. But I want to be. I know I’m not beautiful all the time as I am. But I want to be pretty.

And I hope that I can put myself here in this blog in bits that I type for minutes at a time late at night, and that somehow something in me will reach through this page and speak to someone else. That there will be a curve or a color, a shape or a smile, a gentle elegance or piece of poetry. Amidst all the grit I hope others get a glimpse of something pretty, even if it comes as a quick kaleidoscope turn or a random treasure found in debris on a beach. I hope that something I write is light, has grace or embraces loveliness. As I express myself, all of me pouring onto the page, I hope that somehow I can put something beautiful in this blog.

Thinking about Dave’s quote brought John Keats’ quote to mind:

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever

If I write something that is eternal it will a thing of beauty. It will bring joy. I believe in eternal beauty and eternal joy.

For me that is the true purpose of this impermanent life. I know I won’t last here forever in this physical body – so why emphasize it or manipulate it into artificial perfection? – but perhaps the internal beauty inside me may be eternal. And maybe, with God’s grace, somehow something, some piece of myself seen on this site, posted on these pages late at night will last after I am gone.

I see this in our community too: I hope somehow, in all these entries that we write, in all our passion and pursuit, together we can create and encourage a beauty that will live long beyond our blogs.

Tags: blog

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rod Kratochwill's Weblog // Jul 14, 2004 at 4:36 am

    I miss the beauty

    I was reading a very interesting story about beauty, among other things, over here .

  • 2 Phil // Jul 14, 2004 at 9:20 am

    Hmmm, much to comment on here, but I’ll try to limit myself… 🙂 [1]

    > And I think men want beauty too.
    This reminded me of a movie “Beautiful Girls” which has some interesting perspectives on men and beauty. The lead character has returned to his small home town, in part to make a decision about whether to commit and marry his girlfriend. While talking with a friend he comments “All I want is something beautiful.”

    > Although it didn’t appear as a point in Dave Pollard’s post.
    Didn’t really think much of his list to be honest, number three’s identifible, but I don’t really think it really gives men much credit. I also think the first item ignores the fact that it’s not possible for an individual to know what it’s like to have a committed and single partner for their whole life if they’ve had multiple partners (and vice versa, obviously).

    > It’s not always pretty.
    That’s what makes it real. Who says it has to be pretty all the time. I think I’ve said it before, but I think you’re *way* too hard on yourself and your writing. 🙂

    I tend to overuse movies as reference points but in “Good Will Hunting” Robin Williams’ character has a monologue on the fact that it’s the imperfections (“foibles”) known about the other person that make a relationship real, and that it’s those things he remembers most about his deceased wife.

    > Why am I posting on this blog? What is it I am trying to do?
    I don’t know what it is you’re wanting to achieve but from this side of the screen it looks like you’re communicating. Presenting a positive portrayl of a marriage relationship; of a husband and wife who aim to lift each other up and not put down; of a Christian who’s honest enough to admit that she doesn’t have all the answers; an intelligent women who is a mother, a wife, an individual who knows that each choice she makes brings sacrifices but also rewards, but still acknowledging both.

    At least, that’s what *I* think. 🙂


    [1] Okay, so much for *that* idea… 🙂

  • 3 Bob V // Jul 14, 2004 at 12:49 pm

    I think this post is worth sharing. Grant is also critical of cosmetic surgery and the mad rush to transform one’s self. However, he points out the silliness by comparing it to the lack of attention that many pay to their own voices.


  • 4 Julie // Jul 14, 2004 at 11:59 pm

    Phil: thanks! I thought Pollard made some good points but definitely don’t see what he wrote as the final analysis of masculinity. But it was on my mind the week I started writing this piece. Thanks for your encouragement and perspective…

    Bob: good point. I think it goes along with the idea that the outside is much easier to change than the inside…even the voice…nevermind the words said by the voice or thoughts behind the words…I’m speaking from personal experience 😉

  • 5 jenny // Jul 15, 2004 at 7:48 pm

    Julie, I’ve had a rough time blogging these past few weeks too. Perhaps it’s due to the wonderful weather, or having company, or I’m too exhausted at night, or I’m plucking my eyebrows. . . speaking of beauty:)

    I struggle with my desire for physical beauty/cute-ness. I’ve never been able to keep my hair looking nice all day (even in my pre-mom era), nor my make-up. I recently told my grandmother about a woman I knew who wore A LOT of make-up. One day I saw her without it… whoa. That day I decided it’s better for me to wear little to no make-up usually. You see, when I put a little extra on. . . I get LOTS of compliments. No “whoa” there’s no time for make-up!

    I digress… All that to say, I look around too and grow discouraged by the unattainable, air-brushed beauty that fills the media.

    Your beauty. . . I have to say the first thing that popped to my head as I read was your commitment to your girls. I could comment on your beautiful long hair too, but. . . My interests float to those thing mom-related. I admire the adventures you take the girls on, I admire your patience with them, I admire the diversity you show them, I admire how you teach them through the everyday. . . These things are beautiful, and I see them in your blog and (most importantly) in your life:)