When I was younger I struggled a lot with my hair.
My hair was thick and curly and would not adhere to my commands.
I tried to force it to become something else, something it was not. I didn't want my hair to be curly, I wanted it to be smooth and straight. I wanted the kind of hair that could be styled in seconds and that would allow me to change my entire appearance in a flash.
Like the rest of my peers, I was heavily influenced by what I saw on tv and what I saw on posters in the malls and shops around me.
What I saw almost exclusively were people with thin, smooth, and straight hair. Naturally, I wanted my hair to look the same.
I felt my hair was not beautiful and this bothered me deeply. So much so that it led me to question what makes something beautiful to me.
What Makes Something Beautiful?
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what makes the beholder find something beautiful?
I was 15 when I first asked this question, and it slowly revealed to me just how superficial my definition of beauty really was at the time. I realized I had allowed myself to be completely educated by industries that have one purpose and one purpose only - make as much money as possible.
In the west, the majority of the population has thin straight hair, so naturally, corporations were going to focus most of their efforts on what sold the most.
The more I understood what was motivating these companies the more I realized it was completely up to me to understand what beauty really is, and how I can redefine it in a way that actually makes sense for me and my life.
Healthy is Beautiful. Or is it?
At first, I thought that health is what should determine what makes something beautiful to me. After all, being healthy is the better way to live. No?
Is it not true that the healthier i am the better my life will be?
I was convinced this was the case until I witnessed two things that changed my mind on this matter completely.
The first thing I saw was a raging fire.
I remember returning from school one day and seeing the forest near my neighborhood in a blaze of fury. It was not close enough to our neighborhood to pose a real threat, but it was still a tense experience and surprisingly one of shocking beauty. It was actually one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.
There was so much smoke that it formed a massive cloud filled with the brightest and most exquisite colors reflected from the sun. The fire was moving around destroying everything and anything on its path and as horrible as this was, it was absolutely mesmerizing.
The second thing I saw that changed my mind was the bald and shining head of Sarah S. on her 16th birthday.
Sarah was not the most beautiful girl in school but she was attractive and her hair was to die for. On her 16th birthday, she decided to shave it all off.
No one knew what made her do it but many suspected this was her way of rebelling against her parents, and maybe even society as a whole.
Whatever it was, all I can say is in school, when she walked by me in the hallway, at that moment, she was the most beautiful person I have ever seen in my life.
Why was a rebellious girl with a bald head so beautiful to me? And why was a terrible forest fire such a compelling sight?
It was not pure destruction that I found beautiful, it was something deeper than that. Of course, watching a few trees burning can be a beautiful sight but I guarantee you that watching your own house burn down, would be a whole other story.
The same goes for hair, watching a young woman shave off her head for fun or even out of spite can be a beautiful sight, but when it is a result of old age it might be a much less attractive look.
You see, knowing her hair would grow back just like knowing that the forest would eventually regenerate itself is what made it so fun and so beautiful to watch.
I suddenly realized that health was only one half of what made something beautiful to me, the other half was disregard. Having the right balance between the two is what truly makes something beautiful.
The Balancing Act
I had a friend who was meticulous about his health. He made it his top priority to work out every day, rain or shine. He was firmly against any type of junk food famously calling sugar the “devil in disguise”, he was famous for arguing with any smoker who was unlucky enough to cross paths with him. He died at the age of 45 from a heart attack.
Conversely, my grandfather may he rest in peace, never worked out a day in his life, would smoke a pipe occasionally, and refused to drink anything but Coca-Cola or Fanta.
For my grandfather, a meal was not a meal without dessert, and many times it was more than just one type. He died at the age of 101.
Personally, I believe that if my friend would have been more relaxed about being healthy he would have had a lot less stress in his life.
Constantly worrying if you’re doing the right thing in life - is the wrong way to live!
I have no doubt that if this man would take the whole “health thing” less to heart he would have lived a lot longer.
In the same way, I believe that if my grandfather would have worried more about his health and spent more time exercising he would probably have been able to walk a lot better and breathe with more ease in the later years of his life.
In an article from Everyday Health, they discuss the delicate balance between our health and being stressed out.
“Everyone longs to be healthy and happy. After all, what's the point in working hard toward a long and healthy life if you can't enjoy it? While focusing on a healthy lifestyle by exercising and eating right is great for your body, balanced living means protecting your mental and emotional health, too. And stress reduction needs to be at the top of your to-do list.”
The truth is that sometimes being too healthy can cause you to be stressed out which in turn can decrease and even destroy your health. On the other hand not stressing enough about your health can lead to a deterioration of your physical state that in turn will affect your mental state of mind.
In an article by Live Science - “Study: Stress Isn't Hot” they explain the connection between stress and attractiveness.
“according to a new study that finds men judge women with high levels of a stress hormone less attractive”
This scientific experiment proves that the more people are stressed out the less attractive they become.
Understanding this was a total game-changer for me.
The reason Sarah looked so beautiful to me that day is because in the exact area where I had the most stress and fear in my life she was completely stress-free. She was so confident in herself that she was willing to momentarily sacrifice her beauty in order to prove to herself that it’s not the most important thing in life.
Ironically, her willingness to be less beautiful is what made her so damn beautiful!
Become aware to what it is that makes something beautiful to you.
Stop letting greedy corporations tell you what’s beautiful and what’s not.
Don’t stress too much about how beautiful you are, because the more you stress about it the less beautiful you become.
Care for your body and care for your mind.
And finally make sure you remember: the most powerful kind of beauty is the kind you never see coming!