beauty

Happily Ever After?

I love these images by photographer Dina Goldstein who takes a look at how the lives of our beloved Disney princesses might have turned out, fairy tale luck and charm aside of course ;-)

“I began to imagine Disney’s perfect Princesses juxtaposed with real issues that were affecting women around me, such as illness, addiction and self-image issues"

 

What is Beauty?

Words by Frou Williams.

 

Beauty is defined as a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.

So what makes us beautiful?

And why do we spend so much time of our goddamn lives striving for an ideology of what society deems ‘beautiful’ and not what we in our hearts and in our minds believe to be beautiful?

We tweeze, we pluck, we colour, we straighten, we curl. We sit, we squat, we run, we hurl. We ditch, we dive, we fast, we cut. Not only that, we wax, we shave and there’s always a but. We stare in the mirror for far too long, wishing and scrutinising ourselves over and over again, ‘but’ I could have…(delete as appropriate) longer legs, a smaller nose, bigger lips, thinner legs, more toned arms…the list goes on.

We inject chemicals into our bodies, we take diet pills to make us slimmer, we skip meals, we essentially abuse our bodies in order to attain the most sought after of accolades, which stands proudly there in shining, dazzling lights, ever so slightly out of reach but we continually perpetuate and reinforce the sheer strength of this word or trait and what it means to be ‘beautiful’.

And for what? Does it bring us happiness?

In whatever form you may look at it, be it aesthetically, inner beauty, beauty through art, through food or perhaps beauty merely in the mundane, this notion of beauty has gotten me thinking or should I say slightly curious. Can beauty be universal? And if beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder then why are we so judgemental and brutal to ourselves and one another in the pursuit of an entirely subjective goal?

The saying ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ first appeared around 3rd century BC. Now call me crazy but if the concept of beauty and what it holds bares true, since we’ve been running around this little place we call earth then perhaps there’s something beautifully unifying in how our ancestors may have felt and how indeed our own children and their children’s children may go on to feel. The question is to which degree does this vary from culture to culture? And to what extreme do different cultures and people take their level of pursuit for that all singing, all dancing beauty?

Now you could consider me a girly girl, I love make up and getting dolled up for drinks or a nice dinner with friends as much as the next girl, as you’ll see from numerous pics I’ve posted (I’m sure). I’ve been wearing make-up and obsessing about my looks, weight and general image since the age of about 12. In fact I could probably pinpoint to the very moment where things changed. Going from an all girls school where the only thing on my mind was hockey and netball to starting at a comprehensive where the girls at school were rocking these things called bras. I remember the very day that my mum told me it was time for me to get my own, so she marched me to the nearest Marks & Spencer’s and I was fitted in what can only be described as a napkin. I cried. Literally balled my eyes out.

What was I crying for? My youth? Crying for my barbies that yes I was still playing with and crying because I intrinsically knew that nothing would be the same again. I was no longer a girl. Yes, I got all that from an over shoulder boulder holder. And with that ping of the old bra strap from the boys at said comprehensive, well you knew that if you weren’t on the receiving end of that ‘snap’ you might as well call it quits, your life was over, it was time to move to a cave, admit you were deeply uncool and would probably never have a boyfriend. That, of course, was not the case at all, but to my 12 year old self seemed like a huge freaking deal. The bra, and in particular my napkin bra, was the enemy. This was war. Years of push up bras and chicken fillets ensued.

But who was I really at war with? Myself of course. We waste our time and energy wishing that we could look like the girl (or guy) we saw walking down the street, on the tv, in the gym, or on that youtube video. We live in a permanent state of the grass is greener anywhere but here and convince ourselves that if only we could be the size of the girl on the front of the magazine or have her hair/ her eyes/ her make up/ her nails (you name it, we want it) that we’ll be happy or perhaps more guys and girls will like us. That we’ll fit in. We’ll belong. Is that really what we lament and punish ourselves for, to fit in?

One thing is for certain, we are not alone in our pursuit of this damn universal beauty.

The desire to feel beautiful and to follow trends is nothing new, it’s been going on for centuries. Just take a look at the acceptance of tans as one example. From Queen Elizabeth I’s dedication to being pale right through to women of the 1920s, if you had any sign of a tan then you were considered common, working class and belonged in a field. Nowadays it’s not uncommon to hear women complaining they feel pasty and frumpy without a tan. Even in cloud cuckoo celeb land there are but a few who are brazen enough to hail the pale complexion.

Or let’s look at how Tudor women used to pluck or shave their hairline because having a high forehead was meant to be a sign of intelligence or wisdom. It sounds crazy doesn’t it that someone might make themselves appear to be bald just to look intelligent but let me ask you this, is it any crazier than having silicone implants put in your chest to make you appear more voluptuous?

Beauty trends will always come and go, some more permanent than others so you really have to be sure that you’ve truly thought through any procedure or treatment you are undertaking. I know how I felt in my 19 year old skin to how I feel today at 30 is wildly different and whilst hindsight is a wonderful thing, sometimes it’s just nice to know that you’re not alone in having insecurities or even fat days. Hell, I’m sure even Kate Moss has fat days!

What’s important and surely what should matter most is if you like you. Not the guy you’re snapchatting, not your friends who are all 5ft1 and size 0 while you’re 5ft9 and your mum is still giving you your brothers hand me downs (it happened) but if you can look in the mirror and be happy with what you see and know that we are all together in being imperfectly human then there’s something quite magical about that.

 

Why you Should Create your Own Definition of Beauty

Your beauty, Just like the capacity of your life, happiness and success is immeasurable.

Day after day, countless people all over the world get on a scale in search of validation of beauty and social acceptance.

Get off the scale! I have yet to see a scale that can tell you how enchanting your eyes are. I have yet to see a scale that can show you how wonderful your hair looks when the sun shines its glorious rays on it.

I have yet to see a scale that can thank you for your compassion, sense of humour and contagious smile. Get off the scale because I have yet to see one that can admire you for your perseverance when challenged in life.

It's true, the scale, can only give you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity. That's it. It cannot, measure beauty, talent, purpose, life force, possibility, strength or love.

Don't give the scale more power than it has earned. Take note of the number, then get off the scale and live your life.

You are beautiful.

Hugs,

Frou xo

Why a Picture only Tells Half Story...

Words by Frou Williams.

Not quite your average transformation photo but a dear friend of mine reminded me of an adventure around Southern India we went on 4 years ago today and it served as a wonderful reminder of not only what was a beautiful trip but also how often we focus so much on the end results that we often lose sight of how far we've come. These two photos taken 4 years apart - aside from the obvious of learning how to use a make up brush and obtaining a tan 😂🤔🙋🏼 - there are two totally different humans staring back at that camera. 

I thought if I could learn how to 'fix' myself, figure out how the body worked, how to train it, what to feed it then everything would fall into place and I'd be 'happy'. For as long as I can remember I have always felt uncomfortable in my skin. I remember thinking at the time that I was fat when the photo on the left was taken. Now there is nothing wrong with either photo, I believe in promoting body positive in the female form in whichever light you may deem that - that's simply not the point of this post - but I look at the girl on the left, knowing her sad lost eyes, not quite knowing or trusting herself yet and I think, "man I wish I could give you a hug, a chocolate biscuit and tell you everything is going to be okay. That you are perfect just as you are." 👯🍪🙋🏼 

We often tell ourselves things we would never dream of saying to a friend or loved one. We let our *inemy (inner me often confused with enemy 😬) run wild with imagination, often stopping us from showing up as our best selves or putting ourselves out there in a vulnerable or revealing way in fear of rejection or even being 'seen'. After years of trying to quieten my inemy, instead now I chose to acknowledge when she has something to say, invite her to the table to hear her plea but kindly remind her whilst she's entitled to her opinion she can make herself useful and help me lift this next set. 🏋🏼‍♀️ 

Some days she shouts louder than others, some days I give her pizza and some days I give her kale but on the whole, we're a team these days. Of course I still have days where I feel like a humpback🐋, days where I've eaten an entire packet of biscuits and inhaled my weight in gin (ahh good times 😋) but I try to bring my focus back to my mindset, training and remind myself that I have built a strong, healthy body which supports and enables me to do the things that I love each and every day without me asking anything from it. Now how amazing is that? 

Ive spent the last few years acting as a sponge soaking up as much knowledge as my brain would allow, studying at FIAFitnationBeautiful YouThe Institute for the Psychology of Eating, not to mention a host of incredible mentors along the way, Life in Full Flight - Jenny Orenstein and I can hand on my heart tell you that all those of years of uncertainty, pain and confusion were worth it because without it I wouldn't be me. And without that, I wouldn't be helping women today to feel and look better in their skin or helping them achieve 'girl boss' status in their own lives and to me, that is hands down the best feeling in this world. 

Isn't it amazing how much context often lies beneath a photograph?