Perhaps it’s being a mother that has me feeling so moved by this topic. Or maybe it’s the dream I had last night carrying visitors from my past. Perhaps it is watching my parents get older and seeing the struggles that so many of my loved ones undergo on a daily basis(myself included). Maybe it’s my business, being constantly immersed in a world of superficiality that has me so affected. Or, possibly, it is just my own nostalgia that is giving me this overwhelming sense of longing for a simpler, more innocent beauty.
I didn’t know I was even in search of it, really, until I was sifting through my Paul Starr on Beauty-conversations with thirty celebrated women book this morning. I do this from time to time, admiring the consummate yet antithetic beauty each one of the women holds.. and of course the make-up and hair. The book is, according to Starr, “a gallery of women who have enriched my personal and professional lives. All are authentic beauties, but theirs is a beauty of born character, integrity, intellect, and achievement, not only a fortunate happenstance of genetics.” While scanning through photographs, I stopped to analyze a black and white of Meg Ryan: her somewhat bony stature, the sort of heroin-chic/skeleton look that was still very ‘in’ in 2005, donning the black smokey eyes, a black sequined mini-cocktail dress and her infamous shaggy crop that any hairstylist who worked in the late 90’s through the past 10 years has been asked to replicate on countless occasions(seriously, I can guarantee that a good 75 percent of you ladies has at one point or another carried a magazine clipping of the romantic-comedy heroine in your wallet for your hair salon visits…). It was then that I came across Meg Ryan’s response to a repeated question asked to all thirty women by Paul himself.*
Starr: In your Own words, tell me what is your definition of beauty?
And Meg’s response , what got me onto this topic to begin with, was this:
I know it’s a cliche, but I believe that beauty is truth and truth is beauty, and I see examples of it all the time(not very profound, but I continue to read.. the word ‘example’ holding my curiosity for what esoteric words may come from Meg Ryan’s mouth). When people are authentic, they are the most beautiful. That’s why children are so beautiful, every one of them, because they don’t pretend to be anything more than who they are. They’re not reactive, they’re full-blown, proactive versions of themselves until adults start telling them, “Don’t do this, don’t do that, tone down a little bit.” It’s beautiful and real. Real elation. That’s beauty to me.
Well, I have to admit, I was impressed by lil’ ol’ Miss Ryan, and indeed moved. I began thinking of my daughter, her unparalleled beauty, the way she smiles and laughs when her tiny little heart demands it, without hesitation. The way she tells us, very loudly, when she is not happy instead of bottling it up inside as so many adults do. I began thinking of all of the other children in my life, my friends’ kids, and cousins, and so-on. And not one of them exudes anything less than beautiful. They are real versions of themselves. They are the most honest people you will know, and yet the most overlooked and underestimated. And it is because of this that they change-that we’ve all changed.
Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist-The problem is, how to remain an artist once we grow up.” A good make-up artist is one who can greater express and accentuate the true character with in a person, not take away from it. And yet so many of us use make-up and fashion as tools to mask our flaws and deceive an audience. I’m not sure who said this, but I know I heard it during an interview after a fashion show, “fashion reveals and conceals”. This is true, and yet beauty, on the other hand, can only be revealed. Beauty can not be built on flaws as truth can not be built on lies. There is no make-up artist, hairstylist, designer or photographer capable of this feat. So we ask of you today then, to remind yourselves to be true, and to be honest and to watch as that beauty you may have been searching for begins to resurface from a place you perhaps forgot about. And you can be assured that when that happens, those laugh lines won’t bother you so much… in fact, you may even learn to love them.
*for those of you who do not know of Paul Starr: he was a make-up artist and beauty director to many celebrities in the film and fashion world for over 20 years. He sadly passed away at the arguable age of 48(some reports say 51) in August of 2008.
**title quote by: William Butler Yeats