Beauty is only skin deep.
So we’ve been told.
So we’re told.
Yes, that’s an intentional rephrase.
While at lunch I perused facebook on my phone and was stopped cold seeing an image of a sweet, long-haired little girl, sitting cross-legged, wielding a pair of shears, poised to cut the “bulge” from her belly. The text, “Girls aren’t born hating their bodies – we teach them to.”
We’re told in words and imagery that beauty is physical only. That our body shape tells the world if we’re beautiful. . . or not. There are words and imagery that objectify both female and male bodies, as though we are all something to be used, and perhaps tossed aside like yesterday’s news.
Yes, yes, there are scientific studies that support that there are physical traits that we, as human beings, are attracted to. That’s fine. Physical traits sit on the surface. The surface is a cover for a person. It is the “still water” and we have, in our own experiences, an idea of how deep the water is below that surface. We are spiritual beings in that physical-ness. We have thoughts and feelings that can develop in healthy, and unhealthy ways. For a lot of us as women the verbal and visual images often distort a healthy love of the way our bodies were “knit together in our mother’s womb” and we learn that though we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” that our bodies don’t fit in, and that as a result we are less-than, unattractive, and not worthy of being appreciated for simply being born a woman.
I don’t fit the current societal norm for physical beauty. I am not working towards fitting the current societal norm for physical beauty. I won’t work towards fitting the current societal norm for beauty. I have inherited the shape of my Gramma. I’m round. Every time I work towards losing weight I gain it back and often more. I can not tell you how frustrating the experience is. I can tell you that learning to love my body for the shape it is, is indeed a struggle. I have to learn to ignore the disapproving looks from strangers. I must also watch how I give approving or disapproving looks to other people – how that might be perceived.
Beauty is soul deep. Beauty goes beyond the physical container. Beauty shows up in kindness, gentleness, generosity, compassion, in our struggles, our anxieties, our prayer, our desires for good. Beauty comes from the depth of our being. Beauty comes from our desire to work towards improving our self, to grow and become more. To cling to compassion. To share our struggles and anxieties as well as the good that happens in our life.
One of the reasons I love quilting, why I love teaching quilting so much is that I get to see the beauty in that first quilt. I get to see women trying something new. I get to tell them how amazing they are for taking this risk. I get to stop them cold from diminishing their work as they tell me how “awful” their first quilt is and complement them on making that first quilt. I love teaching because there is something (good Lord I want to swear here) freaking amazing about watching quilters TRY to free motion machine quilt. To see a woman, to see a person just sit there and work really hard, get frustrated enough to want to walk away, and yet stay there because they really want to do this. That is so beautiful.
Quilt making is not particularly easy. And it has the ability teaches women in particular about their beauty. When we stop to appreciate the work, the skill, the time, the effort that goes into quilt making. When we appreciate that there is a woman with feelings, and thoughts behind the quilt.
And before anyone decides I’m being sexist, yes there are men who quilt. There are men who struggle with feelings of inadequacy on so many levels. Yada yada. I’m rather well aware of this. I’m not leaving them out of this discussion as much as I’m choosing to focus in on the struggles of women, self-identity and beauty.
Beauty is Soul Deep.