Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder

bodyMarisa Crous says that’s because the beholder is an idiot.

We have always been plagued by the tired phrase “bikini body”. Moving into winter, shall this henceforth be known as a kaftan beach body? Who knows?

By definition a bikini body should (in an ideal world) be a body clad in a bikini. Unfortunately we are far from living in an ideal world. Sports Illustrated, Baywatch, Malibu Barbie and the archaic swimsuit category at beauty pageants like Miss SA and Miss Universe are just some of the culprits perpetuating this ridiculous idea of what a woman’s body should look like in a bikini.

The notion of a perfect bikini body of course extends to a perfect lingerie body, a perfect gym body, a perfect red carpet body, etc. What’s next: a perfect lying-on-the-couch-watching-Netflix body?

And despite many efforts of media publications, retailers and social awareness campaigns to change this destructive discourse, we are still left with the ever defeating voice that says we shouldn’t be satisfied until we are flawless.

Shoulders too wide, frown too deep set, stomach too wobbly (give up cheese! What? Are you insane?). Honestly, our list of flaws goes on and on. Not that most of us actively intend to “fix” our flaws, like, ever. I mean if it required very little work, sure. Yet the nagging angst that comes with this societal expectation is the ultimate in mental trickery.

So, is beauty truly in the eye of the beholder? And do you have the power to decide whether or not you feel beautiful?

After watching an episode of America’s Next Top Model that featured a shoot highlighting the “flaws” of the model contestants (which, in true Tyra Banks-style she dubbed flaw-some. Sigh.), I realised that despite her good intentions, the shoot fell flat. It was trying too hard.

The “beholder” has over the years been tainted, trained like Pavlov’s dog to react and think in certain ways. The beholder is basically an idiot. Devoid of much free will. Teaching the beholder to love imperfections (initiating a kind of reboot manoeuvre in terms of social thinking) has been said to be the answer to all our problems. But will more ads promoting women with fuller figures, bad skin and small boobs do the trick? I am, sadly, dubious.

Dubious because I think this will just lead us down a yellow brick road filled with disappointment. For most, the idea of being perfect ticks all the boxes. I am perfect therefore I am desirable, wanted, good enough and so forth. The ego is an incredibly idiotic thing. And as long as our ego is fed and recognised for its seeming ideal behaviour, it will remain an idiot. To destroy the idiot that has grown inside all of us for so very long, we need to find happiness in something other than the superficial.

In the end, we all just want to find a self-actualisation that makes us feel like we are skipping in ruby slippers. And I am more than 100% sure, beauty or looking sexy in a bikini will not do the trick.

How do you try to enhance your happiness every day? Let us know and you could win a fragrance.

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How “faking it” can change your life

When I was in grade 8 I found myself in a situation where I had to read out loud in class. I turned beet red and struggled the entire way through. My nerves were shot. Bad memories of grade 1 came flooding back. I was a very bad reader who took audible breaths every time I spotted even a hint of a comma.

From that embarrassing day in grade 8, I dreaded the teacher calling out my name to read. So, I went to a speech therapist for help who said something very profound to me: “Just pretend you are Oprah”. Basically, act confident and cool, even though it might feel like your stomach is filled with butterflies. Puking butterflies.

I am a firm believer in the fake. Not fake goods, but fake confidence. And lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about faking it. Particularly, faking it ‘till you make it. (Note to my boss: this, of course, only applies to my personal life.)

When we think about faking we automatically think about being two-faced and lying to others, right? But this is not necessarily true.

In a previous article, I explored the joys of being someone else (if only for a day). According to my god of fashion wisdom, Leandra Medine of ManRepeller, style and confidence intersect. Being someone else (an heiress to a Swiss chocolate fortune, the hostess who gets to tell Naomi Campbell the restaurant is fully booked, a Tuscan-village fruit seller or a badass Wall Street banker), can be incredibly therapeutic. The way you dress can greatly determine your level of confidence on any given day.

“Confidence is still difficult to reconcile — some of us have it, some of us don’t — but in my experience, if you fake it for long enough, it tends to come true. That’s kind of the thing, right? No external variable, not a marriage, not a new handbag, not even really a job promotion, will meaningfully affect whether or not you experience confidence because that shit comes from a lot of tender, internal monologuing. But clothing does have a cool transformative quality and it can serve as an open window that initiates the flood gates,” says Leandra Medine.

Use your armour and fake it until sooner or later you trick yourself into believing you are confident. Fashion is kind of the fast food version of confidence.

Of course, your internal monologue is the one you ultimately want to be targeting. And I have actually found that being able to be at ease when you are alone is crucial. This has been my biggest confidence builder – especially in the last few years of my life.  When you feel content being alone, be it strutting down the road in Swiss chocolate fortune heiress mode, or walking into a room where you know no one with the confidence of a ruthless Wall Street banker (god help them all), fashion elevates.

Sooner or later you become so convinced that even your internal monologue is saying: “bitch, please” to any and everyone who dares to mess with you.