“We live in a culture that trades in currency of seeing and being seen.”
Lately I’ve been thinking about that line from the late author Nancy Friday’s ‘The Power of Beauty’ — especially since Eu2Be exhibited at the recent Beauty Report Live event in NYC.
Written back in 1996, the book’s premise — that beauty is a power player — was alive and well in New York last week (and it was a welcome reprieve from last week’s political hearings!).
Exploring the patriarchal days when male power and female beauty were bartered, Nancy Friday traces the importance of our looks through all the stages of our lives.
Speaking of which, one of my secret pleasures about the Beauty Report Live event was getting to see all “the looks” of a truly diverse gathering of women expressing their desires and ideas about beauty in real time.
From our fabulous New Beauty hosts to beauty industry VIPs and beauty-seeking consumers, ALL the stages of life were in abundance — and BEAUTY was in the house!
So there were some men on hand, but women walked the rooms as if they were on stage, armed with curiosity and knowledge about skin care, beauty rituals, and beauty tools.
Which brings me to another book Friday wrote back in the seventies, “My Mother/My Self: The Daughter’s Search for Identity.”
As someone who sees so clearly how the beauty habits of our mothers and caretakers cast a guiding light (or blurry shadows) on our own beauty journey, this book unleashed in me an empathic understanding of myself, empowering me to form new patterns of love for myself on my own terms.
The idea of beauty on our own terms was exactly what I experienced in the women who showed up in our Beauty Report Live space.
The real power of beauty is having the prerogative to stride through the stages of our lives, in ways that privileged men have always enjoyed — including aging.
Women are a powerful and creative force even as we face unique experiences that attempt to define and limit us from the outside in.
It’s difficult to know who’s seeing what from one moment to the next — or how we ourselves are seeing. But it is vital to keep looking, to stay vigilant amidst the changing influences of how we measure our own worth, our own value, and our own relevance.
It’s not a new conversation, but in a society where we measure our relevance or worth by the number of eyeballs we attract, using our power wisely to reinforce our value as women is unequivocal.
Beauty is our birthright. And it’s up to each of us to take seriously our unique brand of beauty, starting with our skin — our first line of defense:
We needn’t spend any stage of our lives being attuned to how we are perceived on the basis of how we look.
We are neither invisible nor irrelevant.
And we can use our beauty’s power to unleash our creativity and express ourselves.
So, how will you spend the currency of your beauty power today?
Photo credit: Charla shot the image above of artist Kim West's Girl With Bubbles, an LA street art mural at Third Street and Traction Avenue.