“I play less with identity because I know myself better…”

What did beauty mean to you when you were in your 20s?

Playing around with my identity. At a certain point (when I was performing in theater) I realized that “looking beautiful” is an illusion, so I lost my fear of playing with beauty. Playing with make-up, hair, clothing. I changed my  hairstyle often, sometimes every day (with the help of a friendly hairdresser). And just had fun with it all. I dressed a lot in vintage clothes, put on manly looks, sexy looks, showy looks.

I never dieted in my 20s. though I did exercise using Rachel Welch videos tapes, to prepare for my theater programs (dancing). I loved costumes! When I was 25, I moved to Holland and became a secretary for a while and  used to “dress up” as a secretary to play the role.

The Dutch however had less of a sense of humor about clothing… unfortunately, that influenced me and I stopped dressing up in fun vintage party dresses for parties. No one else dressed up (‘normal’ was the standard) and they would make fun of me, and I lost my confidence and got rid of my dresses. I still mourn the passing of my party dresses!

What does beauty mean to you now?

Some people are simply beautiful. Others radiate beauty through their calm or peace of mind or personal energy. I feel beautiful when I feel strong and fully myself. Laughter and joy is beauty, too!

If different, why have your ideas about beauty  changed over the years?

I play less with identity because I know myself better. Fashion trends are less important now. And I care less what other people think about me now. And although in the past I thought I would use plastic surgery, now I think it is better to stay healthy and try to accept age creeping up…. so sad to see photos of Madonna without make-up, for example. We are the same age, and she has destroyed her natural beauty.

It is funny to see old photos of myself now, I was so beautiful in my 20′s but back then, I didn’t always feel beautiful. I felt fat or ugly or strange. Insecure at times. Sensitive to people making fun of my experimentations with identity – which happened when I moved from the US to Holland.

So now if I feel ugly, I think of those photos and know that I will always look beautiful in retrospect!

Claire, 51

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