What makes a woman beautiful?

I was sitting in the airport lounge on route to Joburg recently, when a woman waltzed in and grabbed everyone’s attention. 

She was probably in her 40’s, she didn’t look like a cover girl, but her incredible presence and confidence turned heads.

It got me thinking, what makes a woman beautiful? How do we define beauty and how does that definition impact on how we feel about ourselves?

I consult with so many women who feel 'less than beautiful' because some part of their bodies doesn’t 'measure up'.  They believe that they are not slim enough, young enough, tall enough etc. 

In so many ways, fashion has been an enemy of women’s self esteem. Over the various era’s, beauty was largely defined by one look and if you didn’t match up to that, then you just weren’t beautiful. 

Marilyn Monroe’s curvy look was 'it' in the 50's, Twiggy was the ideal in the 60's and Cindy Crawford was the sexiest girl of the 90’s. 

Today we are faced with plastic, photoshopped versions of 'beauty'. How are everyday women ever supposed to live up to that?

Well, maybe we are not supposed to and we don’t have to. I think it’s time for us to broaden our idea of what it is to be beautiful. 

I think feeling good about yourself is the most captivating look a woman can create…just like the woman in the airport lounge.

This may seem like mission impossible, but I am convinced that we just have to put our minds to it. And I mean that literally. We need to be more conscious about how we speak to ourselves about our bodies.

The next time you look at yourself in the mirror and wish you looked like someone else, stop and focus your attention on the features that make you uniquely you.

Also know that the girl you long to look like wishes she looked like someone else too. 

I sometimes think we just need to give ourselves permission to own our gorgeousness. I’m reminded of what Mandela said about how 'playing small doesn’t serve the world'. 

In fact, I find that when women start to reject those critical voices and embrace their own beauty, they in turn make it easier to do the same.

I’m not saying that you have to love everything about yourself. I’m also not saying that you mustn’t try to dress yourself well so that you make the most of what you have.

I’m just saying that I think we need to take ourselves off the hook of that need to live up to society’s or our own version of perfection. 

Because life is just too short not to.

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