“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” —Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Once a year, award-winning and nationally recognized health and sexuality writer August McLaughlin invites bloggers to participate in her Beauty of a Woman BlogFest. This year’s, BlogFest VI, happens the week of March 6-11. Fittingly, International Women’s Day (March 8) falls right in the middle.
I don’t regularly write about women and beauty but I always welcome the opportunity to do so as part of August’s wonderful roundup. To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page between 9 a.m. today and 11 p.m. March 11th (PST).
Sometimes I feel like an alien life form. I’m female, yet I have no interest in most of the stereotypical outer trappings of femininity: lipstick, wrinkle cream (or, I should say, anti-wrinkle cream), high heels. What interests me is the inner experience of being female, which often includes an experience of both the feminine and masculine traits embodied by every one of us, no matter our gender.
Needless to say, my outlook leaves me baffled when it comes to the five-billion-dollar beauty pageant industry. What would possess a woman (and yes, they are all women, unless you look at the equally bizarre world of Mr. Universe) to focus exclusively on her physical form, her outward appearance, her corporeal manifestation? And then put it forth to be judged?
I know pageants these days are supposed to be about the whole person. Contestants talk about their charitable work and their intellectual aspirations; there are pageants for women who don’t conform to our cultural ideal of beauty. And there are women who find pageants to be positive experiences.
One of the most disturbing aspects of the industry is the trickle-down effect, whereby young children—usually before the age of consent and before they can comprehend concepts such as inner and outer beauty—are drawn into the pageant world by their parents.
Then again, there’s the TransNation Queen USA Trans Beauty Pageant, which slyly co-opts the standard cisgender pageant script.
Announcing the Inner Beauty Pageant
So here’s a different kind of pageant. You can enter it without leaving your home or your chair. Skip the lip gloss and bathing suit and get straight to what makes you beautiful on the inside by taking part in the Inner Beauty Pageant. Best of all, you can be the judge.
The criteria are:
- Have your eyes gazed on suffering?
- Have your cheekbones hosted tears shed for our human condition?
- Has your hair blown in the wind of a fierce storm?
- Have your arms lifted heavy burdens?
- Have your hands soothed a child, prepared a meal, buried the dead?
- Have your breasts ached for your sisters who have lost theirs to cancer?
- Has your waist folded in two as you bent to retrieve a stranger’s lost treasure for them?
- Have your legs carried you to places of darkness and back again?
- Have your feet worn the shoes of the homeless woman huddled over the grate?
- Has your mind made peace with your body’s short time on this earth?
If you answered yes to even one or two of these questions, you are a beauty queen in my book.
Past Beauty of a Woman BlogFest posts
- 2016: Where wrinkles are admired, tolerated, and required
- 2015: The beauty of embracing your opposite
- 2014: Three beauties and a redefinition
- 2013: I want to be like Carol Winfield even when I’m dead
- 2012: Tribute to a different kind of beauty
New novel coming soon