Clapping On The Down Beat

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What is beauty? March 25, 2012

Filed under: Interests — clappingonthedownbeat @ 7:50 PM

For book club I began reading Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa Lee.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle)

As I was reading about foot binding and how that it is attributed to beauty, I started to think about what other cultures esteem as beautiful.  Regarding women.  I thought about many of the conversations I have had or heard lately.  How many women talk about what they don’t like about their body?  About losing weight?  Dieting?  In the west, do we have a skewed idea of beauty?  Is skinny  that different than binding feet, stretching necks or chiseling teeth for beauty?  I am not talking about those that are naturally thin, or eating right and exercising for your health.  I work in a health club, so I am all for health.  I am not for obsessive exercise, extreme dieting, starvation, “cleansing diets”, weight loss drugs… reach some ideal number on a scale, 0% body fat, size 2  or other “hollywood”/fashion magazine idea of beauty.

I look at my daughter and think of how tough it is to grow up anyway bombarded by media images, and peer pressure.  The last thing I want  to do is introduce language of a poor body image.  I want her to be happy, confident, strong and of course health.  I want her to learn healthy eating habits and a love for activity that will carry her though life.

I was talking to another fitness instructor just the other week who was complaining about losing love handles.  She looked fantastic!  Did I mention she teaches kick boxing and a no limit cardio class?  What love handles?  I know there are parts of our bodies that change, that we get envious of someone else’s genetics, that we changed after having kids……HOWEVER, stop looking at other women and reading beauty magazines.  God gave you THIS body.  And it is beautiful, created in his image.  I love my broken, imperfect body.  It has badges all over it.  It carried three beautiful children to term, it carried me through a marathon, it has fought and fights illness, it keeps me warm and cools me down.

African “giraffe” women

Chinese foot binding

Teeth chiseling

Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen)

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
than my own meandering
experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm
on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with
people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes
you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you
succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe
you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky
chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body,
use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever

Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for

Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the
people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you
should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you
knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live
in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were
noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund,
maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one
might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you’re 40, it will
look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than
it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen…


2 Responses to “What is beauty?”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Thank you for your post. I cried all the way through it. Wonderful stuff!

  2. Carol Says:

    I love your post!!! You are wise beyond your years, but then you always were. Love you – Carol

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