Category Archives: Defining Beauty

An Encounter with a Poetic Troubadour

Recently, I came across a talented woman whose specialty was creating spontaneous poetry. All she asked for was a topic. She then began spinning her intricate web of words and images. Not surprisingly, the topic I suggested was BEAUTY. Here’s the glorious poem she came up with on the spot:

On Beauty

A perpetual question of inner & outer

Enthralled by the cascade of rainbow from a prism

Or within prism itself, where light transmutes and gathers

Reflection: the image in a cold hard mirror


Reflection: the deep internal stream, looking in

where swim the fishes of our dreams

& sun dapples the silt floor

where the bones of our ancestors nourish us

& lilies grow up and unfurl

into thousand-petal stars. Then

Lotus beauty. Stray cat beauty. Pigeon beauty.

A rainbow a rainbow whether oil spot or sky.

Shards are beautiful. Mosaic emerging

from broken clay.

Even a limp can speak grace

a lisp create peace to the masses

a dimple bespeak glaciers or peaches or patience

~Hannah Poet Farmer


Refining Beauty

Image: Thoth Crowley Tarot

We are all a unique spark of the divine.

Working to refine the mission of this website, I have come to realize that this idea is at the heart and soul of Reclaiming Beauty. There are so many obstacles to fully embracing ourselves with Self-love and confidently living in the world from this place. However, if a person can contemplate this idea, that each and every one of us is an individual expression of  Spirit, than we have established a solid foundation from which to chip away these obstacles.

Here’s a related Martha Graham quote that Marie Forleo shared with us this week in B-School:

“ There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. ”

~ Martha Graham

Sending love from my spark to yours,


Soul Collage Card: March 2012

A Velveteen Rabbit

Skills: Beauty Found, Beauty Lost, Defining Beauty

from Contributor: Mountain Selkie

Fifteen years ago, I was sexually assaulted by a boy that I had dated off and on throughout high school. On that humid summer night, my world-view seismically shifted and left my heart, mind, and soul in a schism that has taken years to begin to reconcile. Reflecting on the idea of beauty and what that means to me is something that has had my mind reeling for months- ever since Heidi first asked me to write an entry for the Reclaiming Beauty website. I know now that my understanding of beauty and what that means to me is intricately tied to the transformation, or perhaps, reclamation, of my heart and mind after that tragic experience.

That summer, I graduated high school and was excited about attending college in the fall. Growing up, I had been loved by, nurtured, and provided for by two loving parents and a large extended family. I was surrounded by friends and sweethearts. I had a very naïve concept of what it means to be beautiful, or even what beauty really meant- my view was one that was force-fed by mass-consumerism, teenage pop culture, and the fundamentalist, rigid Baptist Church that I attended throughout my childhood. Like most teenage girls of my generation, I thought beauty was primarily grounded in appearance and a specific attitude that required being sweet, shallow, superficial, and flirtatious. I wanted to be beautiful. In hindsight, and I now know now that I was. Stunning even. But at the time, I mostly thought that I was ugly- I hated my feet, my hair, my body, and my height. I hated that my eyes weren’t blue or green, just murky. I even hated my short pinky finger and my knees. Though I was athletic, trim and muscular, and wore a size 8, and that I was 5’8 and weighed a healthy 135 lbs, I thought I was fat and I would starve myself and binge and purge. I longed for that thin, lithe body that I was never genetically pre-determined to have, short of famine or complete malnourishment. However, the opposite sex still found me attractive. I didn’t go very long spans of time without having boyfriends, potential love interests, and crushes. Though I inwardly hated so much of myself and struggled with anxiety and depression, most people remember me as someone who was outgoing, friendly, goofy, and easy to be with, most of the time. My family might remember me during my teenage years differently and acknowledge the tough time I had growing into a person who feels deeply and struggled with most aspects of life. While my life wasn’t perfect and I had my personal struggles, I was blissfully ignorant of the potential tragic repercussions of being innocently beautiful. I was preoccupied with being “wanted” and “desired” and enjoyed the frequent attention that I received from boys, feeling like this gave me power and a sense of purpose.

All of this, of course, led up to the date rape. That night, I was so scared and afraid that I went into autopilot, never consenting and repeatedly saying “no,” and crying throughout the whole experience. I have blocked out aspects of the rape and cannot recall the penetration. I was horrified and I remember shutting down and withdrawing into myself. Even though I rejected him, I was also too afraid of what could happen if I fought him off of me. He was a track star and could have outrun me in a heartbeat. I learned after getting in the car with him that night that he was on some kind of drug and that he wasn’t himself. I feared for my safety, and submitted to his force so that it would be over and done with, retreating deep into myself in hopes that it was a bad dream.

That night, my childhood ended. Date rape is no way to lose your virginity, or your childhood. That time period is almost a black hole for me- but just as a rotting corpse eventually becomes amazing fertilizer, it played a huge role in the more sensitive, aware, and passionate person I have become. The very next day, though, the monster had the nerve to call me at my parents house and asked me if he could see me again. I screamed at him and told him to go to hell, but he kept saying that he was sorry, but he just couldn’t help himself- he said that “he wanted me so bad, that I was so beautiful, that he had to have me.” Shaking in fear and outrage as he said this to me while I was home alone, I screamed at him and told him that what he did was rape, and that if he ever wanted to see me again, he’d have to apologize to me in front of my father and let him beat him to an inch of his life. Those were the last words I ever said to him. I puked my guts out and smoked pot until I was oblivious, fighting the growing ongoing panic attack that was becoming my life.

And then, the anger, the self-loathing, and the shame really began to sink in. I truly believed him, that it had to be my fault- if I hadn’t been so beautiful, so friendly, so trusting… I really believed what he had said. I believed that it was my fault that he did what he did- it was what I had coming since I had teased him and rejected him and left him helpless. I was consumed with fear and anxiety. Only two weeks after this happened, I started college and left home, struggling to make sense out of this nightmare but also too afraid to tell anyone. For months, I told no one what had happened, not even my best friend. Coming home at night, sometimes I would see his car parked at the church that I would have to pass by to get my parents house, knowing he was waiting to see me again. My blood would curdle and I would want to scream- instead, I’d smoke pot in my room with the exhaust fan in the window and try to get over my fears. Six months later, there would still be calls to my parents’ house where no one would speak and I knew it was him. In fear of him being on the other end of a call, I wouldn’t even answer the phone unless I was specifically expecting to hear from someone. I was afraid that he would hurt me again, afraid that he hurt my family, and afraid that if I told my parents, I would have to get the police involved. If I told, I was sure that my family, friends, and the police would all confirm what I already believed: that it was my fault. I was so afraid of him, of myself, and this kind of thing happening again with someone else. I was paralyzed with fear- the only way to numb my pain was abusing any substance I could- pot, alcohol, snorting painkillers, and one time, even cocaine… but by far my most dangerous drug choice was food. Food provided not only a comfort, but also a vehicle that could drive me out of this body that I believed had seduced a rapist and had betrayed me. My own body, my femininity, my beauty could not be trusted – it could not be unleashed, lest something worse would happen. I could no longer trust my own self and was quietly imploding with debilitating panic attacks and spent nights sleeping in my closet or embracing reckless behaviors to take a break from myself.

As years went on, my appetite for self-destruction with drugs and alcohol waned. I was gaining weight and feeling safer with a barrier of what I perceived as undesirability. I still believed that my body could not be trusted- it had betrayed me, “asking for it” and could not be trusted, but I was getting wiser and stronger. I desperately tried to rewrite the story of my sexuality – I thought that maybe I just needed good sexual experiences to erase the rape. Sex with friends and partners still required alcohol to prevent me from crying throughout sex, and it didn’t help. It only added to my sadness. My body, my sexuality, my power… it all became a weapon that I used against myself and I was secretly imploding. I punished myself with sex I didn’t want and food that I couldn’t stop eating, booze I sometimes couldn’t stop drinking, or pot that I sometimes couldn’t stop smoking, and of course, with whatever other weapon available to reek havoc on myself that was available at the moment.

There were times that I thought I could put it all behind me and just chalk that night up to just “being all in my head,” and lying to myself, saying that “maybe it didn’t really happen,” and all sorts of other self-destructing thoughts that denied my desperation and my need to make sense of this so I could heal. I began talking about it, even as early as six months after it happened, but mostly with a detachment that created a false illusion that I was “strong” and a “survivor.” I never really allowed myself to feel anything but disgust with myself, often masked with bitter humor and more and more weight gain.

Then, at some point, I decided that I would really have to be fat, if I was ever going to trust someone I wanted to spend my life with. That way, I would know that he loved me for who I was and not what I looked like. Becoming “real,” like a velveteen rabbit, somehow became an obsession for me in this process. I believed that I could not be beautiful and real at the same time. Maybe I still don’t, deep down. But I got this idea that I would be “real” no matter what it takes and I would love fiercely and boldly. No matter what. A velveteen rabbit for life.

My weight still increased, but my heart opened back up. Most of my college years were misspent with ill-suited relationships and friendships that were, for the most part, not genuine and short-lived. I poured my heart into my pets, a few sacred friendships, and into my studies in hopes that I would be a head and a heart that could transcend a body. During graduate school, I met a man who would later become my husband – a man with his own hardships and struggles who had a tough time with loving himself and being vulnerable to others. He, too, had a fun-loving spirit who wanted to be loved and cherished, and after a long tenuous courtship, he was willing to try again with me. Finally, I had a relationship with a man who understood me. A man that would appreciate a healthier-bodied partner, but decided to love me for who I am, who I was, and who I will be. This love healed many of those broken parts of myself, but the healing didn’t entirely come from the love that came from him – primarily, it was the love that I felt, that I made, that came from within me that has done the healing. Being loved so well has allowed me to begin to love myself as well.

Fifteen years later, I could say that I have transcended- that the wrinkles and the grey hairs that keep emerging and the pounds that I have yet to shed have all helped me realize that real beauty comes from within. I have learned that beauty is truly about “being real,” or at least about striving to be real even when it hurts and doesn’t appear to be the wisest or most self-preserving way to live. To me, choosing to be present and remain with an open heart in this life requires that one tries to embody the life of that dear little velveteen rabbit from my favorite childhood story – knowing that only loving and believing in yourself that you are worth it can make you real. These days, I believe that true beauty comes from an inner power that can be so fierce it can shoot love lasers out of your eyes and make your enemies quake in their boots. I am no longer vulnerable or worried about him hurting me. Well, most of the time. Often, I dream about having a conversation with him that involves him asking for my forgiveness and me granting it, knowing that I would likely have a much less-meaningful life if it hadn’t happened. Sometimes, I feel sorry for myself and believe I missed out on having the reckless fun in my youth that can only be shared by the innocent. But mostly, I pity the guy – he has to live with what he did to me and other women that I have learned about in later years. I, too, have to live with it, but it has given me a rich opportunity to become real through pain and sadness. Regardless, I have learned that true beauty has so very little to do with what you look like, but everything to do with what you exude. Beauty is, at the core, an inner power that is rooted in a sense of justice, that is compelled by love, and driven by an understanding that we are all connected. That beauty comes from being real.

“What is REAL?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day… “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand… once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
― Margery Williams BiancoThe Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real


Imperfectly perfect: A blueprint of beauty

Skills: Defining Beauty

from Contributor: Liana Roseman

I have learned that beauty comes from within. Imperfection is individuality. Everyone is who they are for a reason, and no one is ‘more’ special than anyone else. We all contribute to the world in different ways. In our society, we compare ourselves to others constantly. How could you compare a police officer to a teacher? The answer is simple; you can’t.

I grew up analyzing everything about myself, from my physical appearance to the way I expressed myself. I always set high expectations for myself. I had to be the most athletic or the most popular. But, I realized something. I realized that there is no such thing as the “most” of anything. Everyone has a purpose, but its up to the person to find it. When you learn to see beauty in everything, you will also see beauty in yourself. It’s not who you are that holds you back; it’s who you think you’re not.

The thing I LOVE most about my body is the relationship we now have. For five years, I battled with anorexia nervosa and strived for my body to look a certain way. I was constantly preoccupied by thoughts of my physical appearance, so much that these concerns interfered with my daily activities and my social life. I had a “blueprint” in mind of what the “perfect” body should look like. Truth is, if that “blueprint” was actually a person or a building, it would eventually wear down and collapse. A wise teacher once said to me, “Your body is like a car. If you don’t give it fuel (food), then it will eventually shut down.” My body went through some major wars while I was restricting my caloric intake.

This might sound a bit cliché, but I have learned that when someone doesn’t have respect for themselves, they most likely wont have respect for anybody else. I learned that my body is capable of some amazing things. I have gained respect for what I was naturally given and learned to embrace change that I could not control. We are only given one body, one mind, one heart, and one soul. It is our job to take care of it, love it and embrace it! If we neglect our body, we will never be true to our inner self. Through recovery, I have realized who I am. I no longer label myself as “Liana the anorexic”. I once felt like being sick was the only thing I had to offer the world. I have found who I am and who I want to be and can happily say that I am completely confident with it. The thing I LIKE most about my personality is my kindness and compassion towards others. To me there is no better feeling then ‘Paying It Forward’. I believe that giving back is the most beautiful thing in the world.

“I’ve never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful.”

About the Contributor:

Liana Rosenman, 20, is a co-founder of Project HEAL: Help to Eat, Accept, & Live, a not-for-profit organization that (a) raises money for others with eating disorders who are not able to afford treatment and (b) tries to diminish the societal obsession with body image that helps contribute to eating disorders.  Project HEAL has raised over $150,000 to date through fundraisers, grants, private donations, and merchandise sales, allowing for five applicants to enter treatment to overcome a life-threatening eating disorder.

Liana and her co-founder, Kristina Saffran, are fully recovered from anorexia and share their personal stories regularly at high schools, hospital programs and panel talks; mentor those battling eating disorders or low self-esteem; educate peers on eating disorders; and consult with parents, siblings, friends, and treatment providers dealing with these disorders.

Liana is currently a special education major, admits to being obsessed with headbands, loves anything pumpkin/chocolate/peanut butter, and believes everyone is beautiful in their own way.

Image: Life Imperfectly Perfect

Hot Tip Tuesday: Beauty Subversion

Beauty must be defined as what we are, or else the concept itself is our enemy.

Why languish in the shadow of a standard we cannot personify, an ideal we cannot live?

To see beauty is simply to learn the private language of meaning that is another’s life: to recognize and relish what is.

Image: CrimethInc. Cyberian Market: posters


The Beauty of Transformation

Skills: Defining Beauty

from Contributor: Kimberly Mason

Everyone knows the old saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  Few would argue that the concept of beauty is truly subjective. One man’s beauty is another man’s beast. Science tells us that certain physical traits such as symmetry can predict beauty, but there is no set of physical characteristics that all humans can agree upon being beautiful.  Aside from the expected cross cultural and cross generational variations, people from the same cross section of a society cannot even agree. And all this is to say nothing of inner beauty, which is just as variable, if not more.

The Webster’s New World Dictionary lists many definitions of beauty, one of which is, “A trait or combination of traits calling forth admiration, praise or respect.” This definition, as with all others, leaves a lot up to interpretation. A trait is defined as, “a distinguishing quality, feature, mark or peculiarity.” So this leads to my perception of beauty. It is what makes us unique that makes us beautiful. I am beautiful because I am Me, and there is nobody else in the world that is like Me.

Now, it is easy to take this statement lightly. Of course all individuals are unique. We all have flaws and facets that make us stand alone. However, I mean this on a much deeper level than simply my individual thoughts and feelings and my physical characteristics.  There is somebody, somewhere that has my nose. These thick eyebrows? I’ve seen two women already today who shape theirs just the same. Somebody else out there, in this huge world, is passionate about tending to the Earth and conserving our wild places. I am not the only person that is amazed that a tiny seed has all the information it needs to grow into a tree. These are characteristics that I hold dear, that make me ME, but there are millions of other people who share my individual traits.  I’m sure nobody alone could possibly hold them all collectively, but the traits themselves are not what are unique.

What is unique is that I am the product of every moment that has come before. I started out as every other human, a cluster of cells multiplying and replicating in one of sciences’ most miraculous and amazing processes. The cells changed and grew until they assumed the human form I hold today. We all started the same way. But, from the moment I breathed air, until this very moment that I sit here typing, I have constantly been shaped and formed internally and externally by my environment and reactions to it . Every heartache, every joy. Every sorrow or disappointment, achievement or disadvantage. Every skinned knee or lazy day on the couch. Every purge, every meal restricted. Every drink taken, hidden or spilled. Every time that I’ve risen above my diseases to do the next right thing. Every breath that I’ve taken has led me to be this very person before you. The one. The only. The beautiful, Me. I am the exact person my creator intended me to be in this exact moment, and that is beautiful. All I have to do is concede to my innermost self that this person- this product of fear and change, trauma and courage, of darkness and light, disease and health- is right where she needs to be.

My body produces beautiful miracles every day. Cells regenerate.  Systems rebuild.  My body and mind are guided by scientific principles that I can only begin to understand. Yet they happen, as they should, without much aid from me. If my physical self can heal, then my mental and spiritual self can do the same. Regardless of what the past has led to. What a beautiful thing. I need to honor every moment from the past, for without them the Me I know would be another someone. Someone foreign.  What is even more beautiful is that today, I can honor you for being the exact person You are meant to be, in this moment. Today, the beauty in me honors the beauty in you. That is the best I can do, and today, that is enough. Today, my friends, is a beautiful day.

Image: photograph by Kimberly, A moth she hatched as an egg,  fed as a Caterpillar for months, and protected the cocoon for a YEAR until it hatched. When it did, it was gorgeous, and lived for 12 hours.

Eye of the Beholder

Skills: Defining Beauty

from Contributor: Stacie Moore

In other people, it is easier for me to see what is beautiful. I remember making the realization in the eighth grade that one did not necessarily have to fit the “standard” of beauty to indeed be beautiful. It was about more than physical appearance; it was a reflection of sincerity, warmth, love. I am sometimes enamored with people who are “classically” beautiful–attracted to physical aesthetics. But I wish I had a non-cliched description of true beauty.

I see beauty in nature–trees, flowers, sunsets and sunrises. I see beauty in children. I see beauty in creatures. I see beauty in relationships. I see beauty in a soul that is searching for something more. I see beauty in healing. Often it is something small, insignificant, that will make me turn my head and gaze a little longer.

At a funeral a few years ago, there was a moment during the celebration service in which I had such joy, such an overwhelming sense of peace, realizing how life is beautiful and precious and all is God’s gift. There is a spiritual essence and root to everything; without that connection, beauty is empty, false, a matter of pretense. Often I am too narrow-minded to recognize the meaning and worth behind that statement. I circumscribe myself into an ideal that I will never attain.

As a little girl, I wanted very much to be beautiful. I never felt that way. In recent years, there have been moments when, perhaps, I felt beautiful, attractive, alluring. And thus I only allow physical beauty to hold value. I don’t often place myself in any category of beautiful–not if my mind, of my heart, of my desires–nothing. What I deem worthy in other people never falls into equality with my own attributes. I am grateful for the people who have “mirrored” my beauty back to me–allowing me to grasp for a short time that I have more to offer than I’m able to perceive. Then it is not about weight, sex appeal, approval; it’s affirmation of my self, wordless encouragement that helps me believe I’m accepted, and love that allows me to see: I too am beautiful. (<— words that are difficult to write.)

Image: photograph by Stacie, Boiling Springs, NC

What Does Beauty Mean to You

Skills: Defining Beauty

from Contributor: Kimberly Jones

What does beauty mean to me?  Honestly, I am quite terrified of this question.  In fact, I have been “too busy” to even sit down for five minutes and process it.  My therapist, Heidi, suggested that I process this question, and for the past 2 weeks I haven’t been able to make myself take time and think about it.  Right now, however, I am sitting down on my couch, uncomfortable as I feel in my well-nourished body, meditating on this one question.  I can feel my mind starting to wander, I am tempted to go on facebook, work on the Project H.E.A.L benefit I am organizing, and of course, video chat with my tender warrior.  And here I am rambling on, trying to avoid the question…if there was a college course on avoidance, I would ace it!

So, back to the question, what does beauty mean to me?  I have been pondering whether I should reflect outward beauty or inner beauty.  But as I think about this more, inner and outward beauty goes hand in hand.  Beauty is found in the way one acts, speaks, the way they carry themselves (confidence and positive attitude), and the way they treat other people.  When a person exudes these things, their outward appearance is what I see as beauty.  The person radiates a glow, which others feel around them.  They truly care about the feelings of others, while still taking care of there own feelings.  I have been in situations where I work so hard at trying to make another person “feel better”, draining my own soul of the care and nourishment it needs.  Although this shows inner beauty, the outward beauty begins to diminish, and the glow that once emitted from the inside dries out and prunes up.  However, when a person takes care of others, but firstly makes sure they themselves are well enough, you can see their confidence just by the way they carry themselves.

Physical beauty is just an element of what outward beauty is to me.  I have every temptation to just write what I think is “the right answer,” but how is that beneficial to others… and to myself?  So let me answer this with no judgments from myself or from what I think others will think of this.  So here it goes… I am going to explore what I think is beautiful.  I think beauty is taking care of yourself… specifically in this part, your physical body.  This includes nourishing yourself with the proper food and using physical activity in a healthy and fun/moderate way.  For a long time, if not my whole life, I have viewed beauty as being anorexic thin.  For those who don’t know what I mean by this, picture a lifeless body…. a woman of only skin and bones.  This to me showed strength; the sicker you look, the more powerful, more beautiful you were.  Thinness, like sports and school (grades), was a competition to me.  I HAD to be the best anorexic, the thinnest person that I was aware of.  When I walked past someone on the street, in the store, at the local coffee shop, if they were thinner than me I would get jealous.  It was NOT okay for them to be better than me… sicker than me.

This sounds almost like a sick joke when I read over what I have written, but it wasn’t long ago that I felt this was true.  Actually, there is a part of me that still believes this… no; my eating disorder makes me believe this.  I can sit here and judge myself for what I am writing, however, this is what a deadly eating disorder can do to one’s thoughts and beliefs… the entire mind.  I have never written down or told anyone out loud what I am about to unleash onto this page.  I’m not going to over think this; I will just write what comes out.  The anorexia overtook (takes) my mind and made me believe that sick, skinny bodies are beautiful… strong.  I had to be the best anorexic…the skinniest person in the house.  I went to a few eating disorder treatment centers at a very low weight; however, I didn’t see myself as “sick” enough to go to these places.  The first four times I went into inpatient treatment, my main goal going in there was to be the skinniest, sickest looking girl there.  Actually, I have spoken to many girls with eating disorders and they have said the same.  I was beauty in the anorexics… they were strong and powerful.  The girls who were at an average weight were weak.  I was scared of seeing them because I didn’t want to even think about ever getting to a healthy weight and be that size.  It was okay for them to be at their healthy weight, but I would NEVER let myself be that weak.  This is why I clung on to anorexia as soon as I arrived home from treatment.  I was forced to get to a weight that wasn’t considered beautiful to me, so the only way to beauty was through anorexia.

I, Kimberly Jones, no longer consider beauty as being skinny and sick-looking.  I, Kimberly Jones, do not see skin and bones as a sign of strength and power.  However, I would be lying if I said my eating disorder felt the same way.  My eating disorder tries to make me believe that I am weak for gaining a significant amount of weight to be healthy.  To the eating disorder, gaining weight equals “fat” and inadequate.   Although it may feel that I think the way my eating disorder wants me to, it’s not true.  I struggle with this fact everyday; I often have to stop and correct myself when I speak of my beliefs towards beauty.

“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes.  You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.  This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful.”

1 Peter 3:3-5


“(Beauty is) a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted”

Check out the new skill added: Defining Beauty!

On Beauty

by: Kahlil Gibran

Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide?
And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech?

The aggrieved and the injured say, “Beauty is kind and gentle.
Like a young mother half-shy of her own glory she walks among us.”
And the passionate say, “Nay, beauty is a thing of might and dread.
Like the tempest she shakes the earth beneath us and the sky above us.”

The tired and the weary say, “Beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.
Her voice yields to our silences like a faint light that quivers in fear of the shadow.”
But the restless say, “We have heard her shouting among the mountains,
And with her cries came the sound of hoofs, and the beating of wings and the roaring of lions.”

At night the watchmen of the city say, “Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the east.”
And at noontide the toilers and the wayfarers say,
“We have seen her leaning over the earth from the windows of the sunset.”

In winter say the snow-bound, “She shall come with the spring leaping upon the hills.”
And in the summer heat the reapers say,
“We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves,
and we saw a drift of snow in her hair.”
All these things have you said of beauty,
Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied,
And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.
It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.

It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.
It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw,
But rather a garden for ever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.

People of Orphalese, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.
But you are life and you are the veil.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and you are the mirror.

Image: Anahata Katkin

Walk in Beauty

Four years ago I was working very comfortably as a Qualified Professional for Appalachian Counseling doing case management and brief therapy for people with mental health issues. I was good at what I did and it came easy for me. The owner of Appalachian Counseling, Jane Ferguson, had just opened a new residential treatment center for women with eating disorders in Brevard – Tapestry. She was looking to hire a new therapist for Tapestry and out of the blue called me and asked if I would be interested in interviewing.  At first, to myself, I said an immediate ‘H*** no!’ I had some experience working with this population and knew that the issues they faced were very close to home to my own challenges. I also knew I had a lot to learn in order to help these women in an effective way. Luckily, I kept that ‘H*** no!’ to myself. I went home and talked over this opportunity with my husband. He made an excellent point… how often does a person receive a call like this one, a call to take the next step in their professional and personal journey? I felt honored that Jane saw some potential in me that I had not recognized myself. I heard the call and accepted the challenge and have been working for Tapestry ever since.

Over the last four years I have come to see my work at Tapestry as Feminist Activism. I work to help empower women, one at a time, by planting seeds to free them from their struggles with food and body image. In the recovery process, it is often said that body image is the last and hardest thing to shift. This makes sense because in our current society it is truly a radical practice for women to reject the physical “ideals” that are being sold to us. More and more I am seeing that external struggles with body image are playing out internal struggles with how a person values oneself. Body image can shift as a person begins to connect to and embrace their authentic Self and live from that place. In the process of helping people heal their food and body issues, I feel grateful for the opportunity to serve as a midwife for the true Self.

Throughout my process, I have been interested in the concept of beauty and how a woman can reclaim her own beauty. A clue that beauty was an important aspect of what drew me to this work was offered to me the very first Family Weekend I was involved in at Tapestry. During this weekend, the father of one of the residents, a man who had some Native American heritage, shared a poem that intrigued me. It was the following traditional Navajo prayer:

In beauty may I walk

All day long may I walk

With beauty before me may I walk

With beauty behind me may I walk

With beauty above me may I walk

With beauty all around me may I walk

Walk in beauty

Walk in beauty

Sensing the deeply spiritual understanding of beauty held by the Navajo Indians, I wanted to learn more about this prayer. My research efforts on the internet proved to be less than satisfyng. I learned of a ceremony called the Beautyway in which the Navajo participate to regain a sense of Beauty, Balance and Harmony. I would really love to know more about this ceremony first hand so if anyone reading this post could connect me to someone who might have more information I would be so thrilled. I did see the following definition: The concept ‘to walk in beauty’ is the process of being connected to one’s true Self – the Soul self. This definition resonates with my own understanding of what makes a person beautiful. Through the process of gaining Self-Knowledge, I have worked to connect to and embody my own sense of beauty, so naturally this is what I value in the work I do as a counselor.

Self-knowledge seems to be the thread that connects my various interests and obsessions. Counseling, yoga, songwriting, expressive arts, the enneagram, tarot, astrology, internal family systems, my relationships – all are tools for gaining deeper Self-knowledge and therefore gaining a deeper sense of one’s beauty. In my own Beauty walk, it is time to further my exploration into beauty with the Reclaiming Beauty Playshop. I am excited to be starting a 6 week Reclaiming Beauty pilot group. I have invited some friends to join me in experimenting with the reclaiming beauty ideas. I look forward to deepening this exploration and sharing it with others.

What is your definition of beauty? Is it wide enough to include your Self? In what ways do you embody your Self-knowledge and therefore your beauty?

I will leave you with a beauty way perspective on the Buddhist Loving Kindness Meditation offered from one of my yoga teachers, John Friend, creator of Anusara Yoga:

May all beings, including myself, be free from pain and suffering

May we all awaken to the essential goodness and beauty that shines in our hearts

I honor the beauty within you from the beauty within me

Walk in beauty

Image: Anahata Katkin

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