hand painted silk scarf 2010
Who is the most beautiful woman you have ever known? Did you judge her beauty by a physical attribute or the way she made you feel? Aunt Carmelita was the most beautiful woman I knew as a child. Her thick waist length hair shimmered in the sun and complimented her naturally white teeth. I was her side kick the summer of my ninth year. We rode up and down mountains in Mexico visiting her girlfriends, swimming at the country club and thumbing through magazines of beautiful dark skinned women while she had her nails and hair painted at the salon. There were nights that I woke to the sound of guitars playing and men singing outside. The moon always left a sliver of light inside my bedroom to help me see below the balcony and yet tiny enough for me to remain invisible. These memories put a lump in my throat, the smell of jasmine still intoxicates my senses, and that is how I fell in love with everything romantic.
It can be hard to see yourself beautiful if you are the complete opposite of what you think is beautiful. My hair was blond, I had green eyes, and I was painfully quiet, so different than my outspoken aunt who put perfume on her lips and made people laugh with her jokes. What is beauty? Anne Boleyn, who was Henry VIII's mistress and wife was said to be the only woman who captured Henry's attention as his mistress, yet was beheaded later by his orders. She was dark haired and flat chested, some spoke about her having an extra finger and a protruding tooth because she herself was the opposite of the current day which saw beauty as blond with fair skin and a "rounded butt". Women died from bleaching their skin which had lead, they painted veins on their faces and used lye and herbs to whiten the teeth, causing the gums to recede. Red heads were considered marked by evil because it was thought their mothers conceived while menstruating.
The rules, the rules! Let's change them. As I age, my idea of beauty has shifted. It's the arthritic thumb of my mother who oil paints and cooks fabulous meals at the age of seventy four. The snow white hair of Barbara with the bluest eyes I have ever seen that matches her turquoise dress and years of wisdom. Throw in Elizabeth with her rounded figure and contagious dry wit that would make any man melt. So many women who show us freckles on a nose, fat lips, skinny lips, strong hands that lead, quiet voices that empower and many different skin tones and textures, this story is for you. The secret of real beauty, is having the courage to take off your mask and let the world see your true and authentic you! The one and only, one of a kind. Be real!