Who decides what beauty looks like? Scientific studies measure symmetry of the face and body. Fashion gurus promote styles, which lend themselves to one particular body shape or another, depending on what is 'in' for the season. Make-up artists hide flaws and contour more oval-shaped faces, and hairstylists can create an illusion of perfection. But what is it that we really want by altering our appearance? What really makes up beauty?
As a hairstylist and cosmetologist, I've been trained to soften angular faces and strong jawlines on women, make deep set eyes come forward, and disguise blemishes. I know how to adjust the shape of your eyebrows to give you a more doe-eyed appearance, or create a hairstyle with more volume to make your face look slimmer. I can alter the illusion of your complexion with a tube of hair color, and make your teeth look whiter with the just the right shade of red lipstick. The rules we try to follow are pretty scientific, but putting them into practice is art. Seeing the joy on a satisfied client's face is a reward like no other.
But the old cliché that beauty is in the eye of the beholder isn't just a sorry, old saying. It is very true. Sometimes I see a person who would look stunning as a blond or simply gorgeous as a brilliantly hued redhead, but their personal image of beauty may not incorporate those ideas. To them, they are most beautiful simply as who they are. I once tried to color my hair a deep, rich dark brown. Some said it was gorgeous. I felt matronly and frumpy, so I lightened my hair to a pale, platinum blonde. Some people find it harsh and unnatural. To me, it is beautiful because it speaks of how I feel about myself on the inside: bright, light, and just a little bit adventurous. I like my clothing dark and muted, while I wear my hair and make-up light and bright. That makes me feel my most beautiful. And I think that is what we want.
Beauty isn't just about ascribing to the current trends or wearing the most stylish clothes, even though I really do l like those things. But to me, beauty is an outward portrayal of who we are on the inside -- whether we are soft and sweet, brilliant and daring, happy, or solemn. We are happy and at peace with ourselves when our outsides truthfully reveal what's on our insides. And I think that is beautiful, indeed.