Beauty is…confidence

Beauty comes from within. It shines through when you are truly happy with who you are, confident and feeling good in your skin. This also reflects on the way you treat others and the way you see the world around you.

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What is beauty? I asked some experts! 

Check out my conversation with the lovely Melissa and Deynece of Deux Bella ❤️

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Melissa + Deynece = Deux Bella

Let’s start with a little background: I understand you ladies are now living miles apart, but stay in touch via your blog, Deux Bella. How did you meet? How long have you been friends?

We met when we were both managing for different cosmetic lines at Nordstroms. It was basically love at first sight! We have been friends for 10 years- the funnest, craziest 10 years of our 20’s (and late teens for Dey). We have had the best times and the hard times together. Weddings, babies, moves, careers advancements, illness, deaths, breakups. All of it.

 What is the silliest thing you have done together?

Hmmm honestly there’s a lot to choose from- probably grocery cart races down the very steep hill from our state capital at ungodly hours. This wasn’t some random crazy night either, it happened pretty regularly and became kind of an epic event.

What are your “day jobs”? BobbyBrownLipstick

Deynece is an education and artistry coordinator for Bobbi Brown cosmetics, and an A- Team national featured artist.

Melissa is a semi-retired makeup artist, esthetician and psychotherapist, but mostly a momma right now.

What is the biggest challenge you have experienced in your professional life?

Melissa: I broke my hand when I was in medical school and had to really re-evaluate what my priorities were and the path I was taking and why.

Deynece: Learning to manage +50 employees all of different ages when I was only 22.

What is the best song to sing to in the shower?

Melissa: Punching In A Dream by The Naked and Famous or anything Britney Spears or Taylor Swift 🙂

Deynece: Don’t Stop Believe’n by Journey

What is the best piece of advice you have heard? What was the worst?

ADVICE from Melissa (1)Melissa:

Best: Never cook bacon naked. Ha But seriously, a bunch of old grandmas told me you can’t spoil a baby so I just snuggled and held my baby so much and I am so glad I did!

Worst: Don’t go to bed mad. This is the worst advice. People prolong fights and a lot of things could be avoided by stepping away and taking a break, eating and getting some sleep.

 

Deynece:advice from Deynece

Best: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

Worst: When you’re not first you’re last.

 

 

How do you spend your down time? Favorite books, shows, movies?

Melissa: What down time? Ha jk. Binge watching Netflix late at night while I work. I love Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, House of Cards, Law & Order SVU even though it’s not the same without Stabler.

Deynece: Netflix and chill- while working on a  million other things for the blog.

If you could have coffee with any woman, past or present, who would it be?

Melissa: Queen Hatsheput of ancient Egypt or Queen Raina of Jordan (current) she is the epitome of class and beauty and strength. She has done so much for women and children not only in the Middle East but on a global level- and she’s stunningly beautiful and classy. I would ask her how she does it all.

Deynece: My grandma because I didn’t really get to say goodbye. She went in for a routine clogged artery and then had complications and passed away during the surgery.

Who is your favorite Disney Princess? Why?

Both of us said Belle! Because she is intelligent, strong, kind and beautiful!

You are experts on beauty– what is your definition of beauty?

Short answer- it comes from within. It shines through when you are truly happy with who you are, confident and feeling good in your skin. This also reflects on the way you treat others and the way you see the world around you.  Long answer- we’ve been answering in our Exploring Beauty series!

Beauty shines

 


 

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Beauty is…sisterhood

Women were not allowed to learn to read and write Chinese, so to stay in touch they took it upon themselves to formulate their own means of communication.

The ancient secret language of Nu Shu

Beside a well

In a time when women’s feet were bound, women were kept in doors, and the goal of marriage was to bear sons, women in the Jiangyong County in Hunan province of China found strength and satisfaction in each other. Growing up, girls were confined to ‘women’s chambers’ in their own homes, and would later be confined to the home of their husband’s family. To ease their isolation, girls were brought together as “sworn sisters” until they were married. A laotong relationship was a step further– girls would be brought together by a matchmaker and would sign a contract. The relationship was expected to last for life. In Lisa See’s novel Snow Flower and the Secret Fan See describes the laotong relationship as “… made by choice for the purpose of emotional companionship and eternal fidelity. A marriage is not made by choice and has only one purpose — to have sons.”

When girls were old enough to be married, they were expected to live wherever their husband’s family lived, and sworn sisters were often separated. Women were not allowed to learn to read and write Chinese, so to stay in touch they took it upon themselves to formulate their own means of communication. Nu Shu, or “women’s writing,” was developed phonetically, as opposed to traditional Chinese languages in which characters represent ideas.

NuShu with Chinese
Chinese (on the left) compared to Nu Shu (on the right). Image from Onmiglot.com.

 

Nu Shu was not only written, but embroidered and used to adorn fans. Nu Shu was also found in “Third Day Books,” journals that a woman’s friends and family would make for her upon her marriage. The clothbound books were delivered to the new bride three days after she was married. Inside, family and friends would fill the first few pages with their laments over losing a friend and daughter, and their hopes for her happiness. The rest of the pages were left blank, for the new bride to fill with her thoughts and feelings. Everything was written in Nu Shu, and though the men couldn’t read it, they seemed to think it was harmless and therefore didn’t mind it.

Lisa See’s book, and a movie based on it, have renewed interest in this ancient and secret language. Since girls have been able to go to school with boys and learn traditional Chinese, the number of women who can read and write Nu Shu is dwindling. People like Hu Mei Yue are trying to change that. Every Saturday Mei Yue visits Pumei, a Nushu Cultural Village with a museum and school dedicated to Nu Shu. She teaches the language to any village girls who show up.

One girl taking the class said, “I don’t know how people can write like this. Each word is like a flower.”

Sample of NuShu
Example of Nu Shu. Image from Omniglot.com

 

 


 

(my sources)

www.sfgate.com

www.theguardian.com

www.wmm.com

www.omniglot.com

Beauty is…a marriage of passion and reason

Mary Wollstonecraft is often lauded as a pioneer of Feminism. Her most popular book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, was published in 1792 and is considered a groundbreaking work that laid the foundation for the argument for women’s rights.

Mary was a passionate woman who considered independence to be the utmost goal of every individual, but especially women. She was raised by an abusive father and emotionally absent mother. As the oldest sister, she was expected to care for her siblings. Mary struggled to balance this role of care-giver that was placed on her, with the role of independent human she desired for herself. If she was alive today, I would like to think she would be a supporter of OperationalizeBeauty, as she is remembered as a woman who most definitely questioned–and shunned– the labels put on her by others.  When she made her way to London to pursue a career as a writer, she took a sort of pride in eschewing the style of the time. She arrived on the scene in thick-soled sensible walking shoes and a beaver cap. She felt she did not need to fit into a world she loathed (the world of the rich and well-connected), and would not waste time making herself attractive for the benefit of others. She absolutely detested the ideal of femininity popular during her lifetime, and eschewed the behavioral norms women were expected to abide by as well. For example, she found it silly that women were expected to lay in bed for anywhere from a week to a month after giving birth, and insisted on being up and about the day after having her first child. She insisted that having a baby was a natural process, not an illness.

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She was quite the conundrum. She did provide for her sisters, finding them employment and sending them money; yet, she did not take their feelings about that employment into account. She was a woman of reason and learning, yet she was fiercely passionate and emotional about causes and people dear to her heart. She was a great supporter of the Revolution in France and held idealized images of America as a land of true freedom, yet she seems to have absolutely reveled in the domestic duties of wife and mother. She valued independence above all, yet became deeply attached to a few people. The attachment she would foster was often unhealthy, and the absence of the object of her affection would send her into depression that resulted in at least two suicide attempts.

  henry-fuseli-by-james-northcoteOne of her objects of affection was German-Swiss artist Henri Fuseli (left), to whom she grew quite close. Though details are not known for sure, it is said that at one point, Mary showed up at his doorstep and asked to move in with he and his wife. Allegedly, she claimed she sought no physical relationship with Fuseli and posed no threat to his marriage; she simply could not live without seeing and talking to him daily. She needed a spiritual connection with him. Fuseli’s wife threw Mary out and forbade Henri from ever speaking to her again. Later, Mary would propose a similar, and incredibly unorthodox, living arrangement with her estranged husband (and father of her first child) and his paramour.

Mary was a firecracker to say the least. Prone to swings of unbridled 170px-josephjohnsonenergy and focus, as well as boughts of depression and self-doubt. Those close to her, like friend and publisher Joseph Johnson (right), learned to maneuver these dark spaces of Mary’s personality. Once, when penning a rebuttal to Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, she expressed to Johnson that she wasn’t sure if she should continue. Having already printed what she had written so far, he assured her that if she didn’t feel up to the task of completing the work, he would throw the printed pages into the fire and forget the piece altogether. With the perfect response, Johnson struck a cord with the proud and zealous Mary, who quickly got back to work and completed the piece.

Mary lived and loved fiercely. She is a shining example of a woman who fought for the right to CHOSE her own life path, which is what most feminist leaders have called for from the beginning. She wanted to be the one who decided what her life would look like. She enjoyed living and writing as a single woman in London and Paris. She likewise enjoyed living in a small cottage with a simple garden outside the city and raising her child (very much parallel to the happy suburban housewife).  What stayed constant in Mary’s life was her passion to carve her own path, the high value she placed on reason and education, and the overall driving desire for independence that informed much of her life’s trajectory.

If Mary could send in a definition of beauty, it might look something like this:

Mary Wollstonecraft Definition

Beauty is…believing that you can do it.

She believed she could. So she did. And that is beautiful.

Meet Heather: blogger, entrepreneur/fan of alliterations, mother of four. And all around rock star.

She recently embarked on a journey to get healthy. Since starting her journey nearly 3 months ago, she has lost nearly 40 pounds and a whopping 70 inches! And she is only half way to her goal!


Beauty is...believing that you can do it.
“A flashback to me last June, hiding behind my kid in a photo so hating to take family photos. Me today, because Zak said “Cute outfit mom! Lemme take a picture!””

Now, obviously, she is looking great. But that is not the point.

Heather’s youngest kiddo is a toddler. In the not-so-distant past, he took off running down the street. And she. Couldn’t. Catch. Him.

Obviously, that was unacceptable to her. The thought that her son could be hurt because she physically couldn’t get to him was just not ok. So, she got to work. She made her health a priority. And it isn’t just her body that has changed, her whole outlook has shifted. Were as before, a trip to Disneyland might have seemed like more work than it was worth, she now looks forward to such trips. “I just started being more up for doing everything we like to do. Like going to the beach, Disney, whatever. It doens’t feel like such a schlep everywhere. I’m boosted with energy. The nutrition is amazing.”

Oh, and her little one? He can’t get away so easily anymore.

She believed she could. So she did. And that is beautiful.

Beauty is…in their eyes

Being a mom isn’t always glamorous.

(If you are a mom, chances are you literally just laughed out loud because being a mom is pretty much NEVER glamorous)

But that’s not to say that a mom doesn’t FEEL glamorous from time to time.

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I can always tell if the kids are happy by the reflection in their eyes. If they are happy, I feel beautiful.

Meet Liam and Zak. These little cuties are aspiring actors. And this picture, taken during a recent photoshoot, makes their mom feel especially beautiful.

You see that light in their eyes? That’s what happens when they look at her.

Beauty is…unapologetic

There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being apologetically herself

There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being apologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the essence of true beauty. (Steve Maraboli)
There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being apologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the essence of true beauty. (Steve Maraboli)

Beauty is…the wisdom and time you give away

We are all struggling souls. And, for the most part, we are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

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Beauty is not what you are on the outside. It is the wisdom and time you give away to save another struggling soul like you. — Shannon L Alder

What we love most about this quote is the reminder that we are all “struggling souls.”

I’m not sure why judging each other– and ourselves– comes so easy to us. Were we born that way? Did we learn it? Did the dreaded monster “media” teach us? Whatever the reason it seems to be almost second nature. We often have to remind ourselves NOT to do it.

So here is another friendly reminder, from us to you. We are all struggling souls. And, for the most part, we are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

How will you share your wisdom and time today?

Beauty is…simple

Let’s be a bit more intentional, ladies. Let’s look closer to home for our images of beauty. Let’s tell our daughters (and sons!) that they are beautiful because of their passion, their drive, their empathy. Not because of their glossy lips and smooth complexion.

I remember some parts of Jr High very clearly. I spent a lot of time with those silly magazines aimed at tween and teen girls. You know the ones. They had posters of long haired boys with dreamy eyes. They had quizzes that define who you are and what you will be. And they had those lovely beauty tips.

Here’s the struggle I remember. There was this huge fad– to look as natural as possible, but with make-up. That seemed to be the aim of every product. To get natural looking shiny lips, you should use this lip gloss. To get natural looking smooth skin you will need this foundation. To get natural looking long, dark eyelashes, you should use this mascara. And here’s the thing– this seems to be a timeless trend in beauty.

I know it wasn’t new in the 90s and it is still popular now. What is up with this desire to USE products in order to look as though we DON’T use products?!

Now, I get it.

I get wanting to look presentable without looking like a clown.

Personally, I have this thing with the dark circles under my eyes. I don’t usually leave the house (or even the bathroom) without some concealer.

My beef is that we are presenting all of these images of “natural beauty” that are anything but natural! These ladies were in hair and makeup for at least a couple of hours. The lighting was just so. The camera angle was just right. And if the final shot wasn’t quite flawless enough, there is always Photoshop.

Let’s be a bit more intentional, ladies. Let’s look closer to home for our images of beauty. Let’s tell our daughters (and sons!) that they are beautiful because of their passion, their drive, their empathy. Not because of their glossy lips and smooth complexion.

This becomes especially difficult when your little one has spent the last 30 minutes locked in the bathroom trying to get her hair just right. Or has turned the dress-up bin upside down looking for the “prettiest” princess dress. She has put in all this effort, all this time and energy, when she triumphantly flings open the door, struts towards you, and says, “Ta da! What do you think?!”

Quick! What do you say?!

“Ohhhhhh, you look so BEAUTIFUL!!!”

That’s what I thought.

If you are going to stick with this reaction, you now have an extra responsibility. She needs to know beauty is not tied up in her hair-do or her princess dress. You need to praise her beauty when she rolls right out of bed. After she has been crying. When you are tucking her in. When she has been splashing around in a muddy puddle. When she gives her little sister the last bite of brownie. When she studies all week for a big test on Friday.

Or, you can re-evaluate your reaction. You can praise her creativity in hairstyle choice. Or her independence in picking out her own shoes and dress. Her dedication in making sure everything was how she wanted it. You can ask her if she feels proud, comfortable, happy. You can comment on how colorful and original her outfit is.

The point is to not equate the “stuff” with beauty. Beauty is not the hairstyle and its not the dress. Its not the lip gloss or the concealer. Those things can certainly make us feel prettier, more confident, more comfortable. But when they are washed off, our beauty remains.

It’s that simple.

Beauty is… knowing your own strength

There’s nothing more beautiful than a strong woman.

Beauty is...knowing your own strength
Beauty is…knowing your own strength

 Whether you are getting up at sunrise to see how many squats you can do today or to start training for your first 5K, your body is strong and that is beautiful.

What can your body do?