What did beauty mean to you when you were in your 20s?
During puberty and my early 20s I mainly wanted to distinguish myself from the rest. I think this was partly part of my personality and partly in being a twin. I had a strong need of developing an own identity. I wanted to be different with my clothes. I didn’t wear well-known brands (those years everybody at school had Levi’s pants and Nike shoes) but liked colourful clothes and strong contrast.
I had shawls/scarfs (cotton handkerchiefs with different prints and long shawls with painted prints) and also home-made earrings, made with beads and rubber. I didn’t wear make-up; to me beauty was “Puur Natuur”. I wore sailing clothes for a while to identify with the people in that world (for example sailing coats with brands like Gaastra, Helly Hansen and Musto).
My idea of beauty was influenced by movies. I thought Leonardo Di Caprio (Titanic) was beautiful. For me the ideal beauty image was long, blond hair (I’m blond), a small waist and long legs (I don’t meet those requirements). It didn’t mean that I didn’t feel attractive/beautiful. In general I was content and didn’t spend a lot of time on outer beauty, but studied and developed (creative and musical) talents and spiritual (church) activities.
What does beauty mean to you now?
I enjoy beauty in/of: materials, nature, art, theatre, but also in diversity of people. Outer beauty for me has to do with radiance. A strong personality radiates power: a passionate person with a vision on a certain project/goal; someone with compassion for the weaker in society; people with great faith; a dependent/open child; a burst of laughter…a treasure inside that reflects a twinkle in the eyes or a loving act. This is also how I want to express my beauty.
Besides that, I like to wear clothes that I like. At festivities/celebrations, I wear something special and pay more attention to my hair and make-up. I think you can accentuate inner beauty by taking care of outer beauty.
If different, why have your ideas about beauty changed over the years?
The difference to me is especially the calm and the depth I found in the meaning of beauty and finding my identity, in knowing who I am. At first it was a desire to distinguish/accentuate my uniqueness. Now I experience the freedom to choose what I really like and make my inner beauty stronger. I found it’s not whether you follow fashion/trends or put on make-up, but it’s what I radiate and how I appear to those around me. A beautiful impression is defined by my physical appearance, but more importantly, by what I communicate.
What I want to communicate is: love, peace, happiness, power, integrity, wisdom, reliability. That’s beauty for me. My belief in God helped me to think differently. I´ve appreciated sermons and books about identity (for example, who am I in Christ). My education and contacts with fellow-students/friends and how/what they think about this has helped contribute to a different view.
A period of “rebelling” against the mainstream with regards to outer beauty (i.e. media) and a clear choice in difference of clothes and hairstyle concerning my twin-sister helped me to find my uniqueness and by doing that, choose what I really like.