Hello lovely people,
A short while ago, I wrote about being involved in a very exciting upcoming project with the wonderful Leyah Shanks - and that is the exact topic of this blog post!
For those who don't know, Leyah is a body positive ambassador, founder of online blog The Body Confidence Revolution and occasional writer for both the Huffington Post and Curva Magazine. She challenges traditional views and stereotypes of beauty, gender and mental health through her tireless pioneering and online activism. In short, she's a pretty amazing lady!
I was fortunate enough to be approached by Leyah recently to collaborate on a fascinating project on a topic that is very dear to the both of us; What beauty means to me. The "what beauty means to me" project is a collection of multi-media works that disseminate the topic of "beauty" and question what is considered to be beautiful and how we can turn this notion on its head.
At its core, the project highlights just how diverse and varied people's interpretations of beauty really are. It's so much more than simply an aesthetic or how someone looks - beauty comes in all shapes, forms and sizes. Beauty is in the good that we do for other people. Beauty is having the best of intentions. Beauty is not a binary.
Below is a short film that Leyah directed and produced and I just so happen to feature in. For those that know me you'll recognise that little Scottish twang at the beginning of the video as my voice also!
As another element of the "what beauty means to me" project, Leyah also asked me to collaborate to record a podcast with her, speaking more in depth about this issue. For this part of the project, Leyah and I both reached out to our online followers and asked them the following question: What does beauty mean to you?
We then chose our favourite responses and spoke about them in greater detail, picking up on the themes raised. Now would be a great time to shout out to my wonderful instagram followers who submitted amazing responses - @bryoneycook @lou.mclou @flippabird - thank you all so much! Your insights to this question were so thoughtful and well received.
You can listen to our podcast here, and below I've written a little insight into what my personal interpretation of beauty really means.
What does beauty mean to me?
I used to believe that I could never be beautiful. To me, beauty was unattainable - an impossible standard reserved only for those with the most symmetrical faces, the flattest stomachs, the most flawless skin. As a teen I did little else other than compare myself with my friends and peers, never quite matching up to how beautiful they were. I relegated myself to the fact that whilst I may not be beautiful, I could be many other things. I could be smart, I could be funny, loud, confident and most importantly; I could do good in the world.
Through years of self-discovery, education and some of the most wonderfully exciting life opportunities this belief eventually began to melt away. I learned that beauty isn't as simple as how you look, it encompasses so much more. Beauty can be found anywhere, in anything. Beauty isn't about having an ample bosom, full lips or a sun-kissed tan - beauty is personal and limitless.
My actions and beliefs that make me a good person also make me a beautiful person, the two are not separate entities but a combined force that drive me each day to succeed and achieve my goals.
The idea that beauty is a binary, derived only from what we see in the mainstream media is harmful and needs to end. Beauty at it's very core is subjective; what one person may believe to be beautiful may not match that of someone else. We cannot spend our lives attempting to attain the impossible standard - we need desperately to stand up and realise the beauty that we all possess, the beauty that surrounds us each day.
To me, beauty is an abstract concept, it can't be defined simply with words. Beauty is an entity all on its own. What I can say about beauty however is that it's something that everyone possesses. It's in the things we do, the things we say and the way we are. I am beautiful- and you are too.
Until next time darlings,