Beauty has always felt like a strange concept to me and one that I don’t think I’ve explored too much on this blog. Since working in an industry that’s predominantly obsessed with how everything appears outwardly, it’s really made me deeply evaluate what I find to be beautiful…
As that old saying goes ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ – something which seems to be oddly thrown around when someone disagrees with your concept of what beauty is. Almost as a polite way of quietly disagreeing…
Since the Nineties, I’ve witnessed beauty standards alter dramatically – suggesting that beauty ideals don’t behave too dissimilar to a ‘hot trend’. Just like the demand for cycling shorts or oversized blazers: society seems eager to demand certain things from woman’s body in order for her to be deemed beautiful. I personally can’t see myself ever sporting a pair of cycling shorts on here, and you guys can all hold me accountable for that. They were good enough for Princess Diana, but they definitely aren’t a piece of clothing I’d feel comfortable in. They are one of those pieces I think I’d feel very aware of – like they were wearing me!
The reason I’m waffling on about cycling shorts is to make a point about beauty (bare with me). I feel as though I’ve reached an age where I understand what I find to be beautiful (both outwardly and inwardly) and I can also appreciate that beauty looks different for everyone. Documenting my outfits for the past few years has not only encouraged me to refine my own personal style, but also to notice trends in what other people find attractive in all senses of the word.
For instance, it’s no secret that selfies seem to perform better on Instagram. For instance, a big old close up of someone’s face always seems to do significantly better than a beach scene or historic building. I guess most people respond better to a zoomed in snap of someone’s face because we feel like we are more connected to that person, or maybe it’s because (in this modern world) we subconsciously applaud people who are finally exploring the beauty within themselves…
The concept of the selfie is one of the many things about social media that has made me think about what beauty means to me. I can get defensive when people slag off the selfie because as vacuous and vain as they may seem outwardly – taking selfie is also an act of self love. Something that we have been steered away from since the beginning of time. If you feel beautiful in a moment whether you’re by yourself or not – I don’t see the harm in capturing it.
In fact, I think people who have an issue with self exploration probably need to examine why that is. Why should it bother anyone else? Personally, taking my own pictures and working with photographers has helped me feel closer to understanding myself in lots of ways. It’s encouraged me to explore beyond the images, and it’s also helped to build my confidence. Not because I always like what I see back either – more in the sense that I see myself as I am, and I’ve learnt to try accept that in all its forms.
Moving on from personal style and the selfie – writing is another huge part of this industry that has helped me to redefine what I understand to be beautiful. I think something I hold in one of the highest regards in this world has to be the written word. It doesn’t matter whether it’s classic literature or an Instagram caption: words tend to offer me that instant connection more than anything else does. Words can also be extremely dangerous – they can make you feel beautiful, validated, on top of the world, and deeply understood. They can also make you feel stripped of everything, vulnerable, and at times, questioning everything around you.
For me, beauty can be found in the strangest of places – it doesn’t always come in the form of someone’s striking selfie or a golden sunset. It can be moments that I’m crying, or even moments when things seem to be falling spectacularly apart – sometimes this is actually when I feel more connected to those around me. I guess there’s even beauty in sadness, and that’s what makes beauty such an interesting thing. It’s something to keep searching for in all moments of life – it’s something that has the power to stop us in our tracks but also to offer relief.
Beauty feels like confidence and vulnerability at the same time. It’s acceptance but also willing to work on ourselves and change when we need to. It’s feeling empowered but also admitting when we are wrong. It’s loving your naked face but also playing with lipstick sometimes. It’s admiring the old couple on the bench, but also knowing when to walk away from relationships that don’t serve you. It’s admiring someone’s personal style even if it’s not for you, and it’s sinking into the pages of your new book and forgetting the world for a while. It’s a certain magic that your mind can project onto anything it chooses, and I think that’s the magic we should all look out for a little harder…
Photographs taken by Catherine Booty
Dress c/0 – And Other Stories, Blazer – The Level Store, Shoes – Gucci
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As always, thank you for reading!