The Beauty of a Woman: Ode to Mothers in the Month of May
This past April, I attended a fitness conference entitled, Midlife Fitness for Women, which was offered by the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. While at the conference, I came across a beautiful poem:
The Beauty of a Woman
The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears,
the figure she carries, or the way she combs her hair.
The beauty of a woman must be seen from her eyes,
because, that is the doorway to her heart;
the place she resides.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but,
true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.
It is the caring that she lovingly gives
and the passion that she shows.
The beauty of a woman, with time, only grows…
After reading this poem, I began to wonder what makes women feel beautiful. So, I asked women this very question and then asked men what factors make a woman seem beautiful to them. It is a seemingly simple question, but surprisingly, it brought out initial feelings of uncertainty followed up by very thoughtful responses. Keep in mind that I randomly asked a group of 20 women and 20 men in their 30s and 40s, most of whom were married. This means that the responses are based on what this specific age group considers as beauty for women.
Interestingly, the majority of women replied with an overwhelming amount of responses, stating that there are many qualities that make them feel beautiful. I divided these factors into internal versus external qualities. The internal qualities consisted of women: 1) taking care of themselves by eating healthy, exercising and sleeping well; 2) feeling successful, competent and/or strong at work or with regard to their physical features; 3) watching their children doing well and being happy; and 4) smiling and enjoying time with their loved ones. The external factors, which seemed to be the secondary response, included wearing nice clothes and makeup, getting their hair done, and appreciating and enjoying how others looked at them when they were made up.
Most of the men’s responses were simplified, mainly with one-word answers, and focused on aspects of a woman’s personality (which is comparable to the women’s internal factors). The terms used were “bright, positive, confident, laid-back, accepting, funny, intelligent and kind-hearted.” A couple of men did comment on appreciating the physical landscape and specific features of a woman’s body.
So, are you surprised with the results? Think about what makes you feel beautiful. A couple of women could not even come up with one answer. Take a good look at yourself. Every woman has natural beauty, some just struggle to see it. Remember, if you are searching for it, your answer is right in front of you. You just have to be willing to see your reflection from the inside out.
It scares me how many women define themselves (whether as beautiful or not) by external standards and material measures (i.e., body size). If we do that, we are in for a rude awakening when we age or become chronically ill/disabled!
Our bodies are but a temporary container, and a fragile one at that, for which clothing, makeup, and $150 haircuts can only do so much. Our spirits, on the other hand, will last a lifetime and beyond.
Susan I loved reading this post. I think it would be great to host a midlife fitness here in St George. As I’m nearing my 60’s years it’s been emotional and a struggle to deal with feeling fantastic in top shape but looking into the mirror and realizing wow I’m getting up there in years. I had to have a lot of self talk to stop being negative about it and start being grateful that I am still healthy, and can still teach and inspire others to eat healthy, exercise, and meditate. It was a pleasure to meet you at Red Mountain. Congratulations on all of your wonderful accomplishments. I look forward to hearing about your success with your new fitness studio. Lori Jones