As a teenager, I never had supermodel potential, despite my most imaginative fantasies. My nose was too big with a bump across its bridge, courtesy of catching a brick wall instead of a cricket ball, my legs were shapeless sticks and I was a real Klutz. My body was trim, taut and terrific (ah, the boloney of body image; at least I avoided the angst of anorexia!) and I masqueraded around my bedroom mirror with the private delusion of being beautiful. I surrendered that secret as age obscured adolescence, abandoning any pretension of being a beauty queen (attractive would have to suffice!) but cultivating the beauty factor in my life remained entrenched on my agenda, albeit for all other manner of the material and the natural (at least what my budget could bargain for!)
Whoever said beauty was simply skin deep did not appreciate how significant our need (at least, mine) is for all things beautiful, for without it, life can be drab, dreary and even depressing. While the price of beauty can be beyond us, we can admire the creative artistry of beautiful objets d’art; even when it means just looking without our credit cards. There is so much ugliness in the world, so much violent conflict and painful poverty that we ignore beauty at our own peril. We should learn that beauty is not superficial, but a rich accoutrement to our lives, even when it means being a ‘browseaholic’ of the trendy fashion, interiors and car magazines etc or the internet, without complaining about our consumer penury. We can indulge our beautiful imaginings between the pages, just like wandering through the shopping maze of materialism to acknowledge the flair of design wizards in wool or wood. Indeed, applauding beauty can really change our mood, silencing our sadness for a more positive perspective. In meeting the daily demands of life for love, shelter and food, it is easy to overlook the important role beauty can play in our lives. Too often we bemoan our own bodies (can I afford cosmetic surgery?), the stressful rat race and the want for the biggest and best of everything. As if that will make us happy! Acknowledging the aesthetic can be therapy for our addled minds, offering us a new paradigm of enjoyment, even when it is just drooling over the gastronomic delights of MasterChef. The list of beauty thrills is boundless – music, literature, dance, painting, architecture and sport, where participants’ bodies pulsate with rhythmic beauty as well as the liberating power of laughter. Of course, there’s sex, where the pleasures of the flesh can feel like beauty incarnate (with the right person, that is), but without doubt, real love is the greatest beauty of them all!
That’s not to mention communing with the often weird and wonderful creativity of our natural world. When I’m feeling down it can be beautiful to walk on the wild side of nature at the beach in winter when the waves roll furiously and the wind pounds my face or marvel at the miraculous intricacy of a flower in the Botanic Gardens I’ve never noticed before. Nature can be truly inspiring, and to get off the couch or turn off our computer and explore the environment around us can excite our endorphins in a way anti-depressants cannot (more than 10 million prescriptions are written annually in Australia!) It offers us a spiritual sanctuary that allows us to feel really beautiful too, without being on a catwalk!