What makes you feel most beautiful? I have a hunch it has nothing to do with what we’re constantly being advertised. Never in my thirty-two years have I, or any of my female friends, said “You know, mascara makes me feel the most beautiful ever,” or “This smooth glide tampon makes me feel so freaking beautiful I can’t handle myself!” Damn, I wish I heard that sentence more often. Most of the time, we’re taught periods are a pain (and they definitely can be), but we’re not taught they make us beautiful.
I’m not knocking makeup or modern conveniences. I enjoy both of them too. There’s a place for them, sure. But what really makes you feel the most beautiful? When I think about that question, the answer has little to do with my body.
Author, blogger, and podcaster, August McLaughlin, is hosting her annual Beauty of a Woman Blogfest. She’s asking women all over the world to talk about what beauty means to them. And since she’s also the fab creator of GirlBoner, (“Where Good Girls Go For Sexual Empowerment”), some bloggers are writing about sexuality too.
I’ve been a participant in both categories over the years. If you want to check out one of my past posts, I recommend Heavy Petting is a No No: Sex Education for the Saint of Heart. 😉
This year, I wanted to talk about beauty as a woman in her thirties. At a time when your body starts changing (like, not bouncing back in ways it once did), it can be a mind shift to still feel beautiful in a world that emphasizes outer beauty and youthfulness so highly. My body changed, and so did my style.
There are some things that remain constant, though. That will always make me feel truly beautiful and empowered in my own skin.
10 (Unusual) Things That Make Me Feel Beautiful
1. Learning something new.
Is there anything quite like the joy of learning something new? There’s that moment when you’ve really put time and energy and sometimes expense into understanding something that didn’t come naturally, and then…it finally clicks!
Damn, that’s a gorgeous moment.
2. Reading books out loud.
What can I say? Words are my love language.
3. Making art for the fun of it.
I believe adults don’t PLAY enough. When’s the last time you picked up your ol’ Crayola 64 pack (dating myself there) and just colored? Or used a paintbrush? Or even doodled? I’m not “an artiste,” but playing around is therapeutic and relaxing for me when I remember to leave judgment at the door.
4. A damn fine blazer.
I’m a sucker for a power suit. Alas, I rarely get to wear them anymore. But why not give yourself a Try Day Challenge and write about it? I did.
A friend of mine coined the term “wonderfully uncomfortable” and it has forever stuck with me. Traveling somewhere outside your comfort zone is a great opportunity to meet new people, hear new stories, and gain a bigger picture of the world. I always leave feeling grateful and humble afterwards. Aren’t those beautiful, genuine emotions?
6. Going for a walk.
Cool breezes on your skin, your feet pounding the pavement or hiking the trail. I never get clarity like I do when I’m on a solo hike.
7. Genuine, consensual touch.
You know people who are huggers? Like good huggers, not creepy uncle huggers? There’s something beautiful and comforting about being with someone who just knows when to give you a hug or reach for your hand. Science even supports that hugging longer has positive effects on the endorphins in the brain! I value a good hug from a friend or loved one.
Who doesn’t appreciate when someone finally notices how damn hard you work?! You go, grrrl! I see you!
9. Eating dessert for breakfast.
Because I’m an adult. Because I can. Because I’m worth it.
10. Not buying into all the ageist, objectified patriarchal bullshit.
Cause ain’t no one got time for that!
What makes YOU feel truly beautiful?
*This post is part of The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VII! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 9th.
It’s the fourth annual Beauty of a Woman BlogFest hosted by the talented and illustrious, August McLaughlin!
Inspired by the outpouring of stories shared by readers after her revealing post, Does Dirt Have Calories? – (in which August exposed her early battle with an eating disorder) – she kicked off the blog hopping happiness that is the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest. She has a made a space for women and men to safely gather and share their stories of female beauty: what it is, how they found it, what they hope to find for their future.
In 2014, August expanded her blogfesting empire to include stories of female sexuality and empowerment under her latest trademark, GirlBoner. Today, bloggers from around the globe gather to celebrate the beauty of a woman, her sensuality and sexuality. I am so pleased to be joining August and my fellow writers for the third year.
Heavy Petting is a No-No
I was raised Catholic. I went to Catholic Church, I went to Catholic Sunday School, then I entered Catholic Kindergarten and stayed through Catholic Eighth Grade. I spent my Sundays genuflecting, kneeling, and singing loudly lest our Catholic priest halt Mass altogether (as he was known to do) if he couldn’t hear his parishioners praising God loud enough.
I was a smart, happy-go-lucky girl who grew up in Small Town, North America with nothing very big to complain about. I loved my classmates and my teachers, but there seemed to be something missing.
In all my nine years at Catholic school, we didn’t talk about sex. Except in the “Don’t have it until you’re married or you will go straight to Hell,” kind of way. I vaguely recall that message coming through.
Every story in the Bible seemed to portray women as either unachievably good or a complete harlot. Or worse, just there. In the background. And I have always, always felt the need to be the lead in my own story.
Sometime around seventh or eighth grade, my school boasted of purchasing advanced reader religion books for the middle school to use. These books were said to be collegiate level and we should revere them with holy esteem. And I was proud of these textbooks, until I read the heading “Heavy Petting is a No-No.”
Yes, our textbook felt the need to include that little logline. And that’s when I stopped listening. Yah, I literally stopped listening because my teacher was trying to convey the beauty of “marital relations” and the “joy of childbirth.” Her eyes were all getting all glinty and I had to swallow the bile rising in my throat. Hello, I was 13! Ew.
What was more sickening than my teacher’s impromptu testimonial though was the language. Heavy Petting is a No-No? It was offensive and infuriating. Offensive, because we were teenagers and didn’t need the language dumbed down to tell us something’s a “no-no.” That’s a phrase for toddlers. And infuriating because what we did need dumbed down were the words “heavy petting.” I went to Catholic school, remember, this wasn’t covered in the priest’s homily last Sunday.
It was clear our teacher kept talking because she was uncomfortable. She was not a trained health education teacher, she taught music originally. I hardly see the connection between teaching kids how to play the guiro and sharing the story of your wedding night. That can’t be a prerequisite on one’s resume.
I honestly don’t think I knew there was a difference between sex and sexuality until college – where, in fact, no textbooks of mine defined anything as a “no-no.” I may have had a small inkling about these terms one semester in High School when I took an independent study in psychology. I was supposed to be using my scheduled time to edit my final paper from the previous semester’s work, and send it off to psychology journals for potential publication. But since I spent 80% of that semester actually surfing the internet for tattoo ideas, I sadly would not get my research published at that time. What I did learn during that hour break each day was about a French bohemian author named Anais Nin, who is best known for her tell-all series of diaries chronicling her torrid love affairs with both men and women. I spent my class time reading short stories by the author, most of which fell in the erotica genre.
She stuck with me, Anais Nin. Her works contained empowered women and men, who’s verbal tete-a-tete was as strong as their physical one. In her time, Nin’s work was so risque that police often tore down posters advertising her readings on the grounds of obscenity and indecency. To get around this, Nin’s posters placed symbols rather than her name to alert the public where she would be reading.
It was two years later, I walked into a tattoo parlor and inked one of those symbols on my hip.
If the lack of sex education has taught me anything about sexuality, it’s that the education piece never ends. And how sad it would be if it did. The beauty – of a woman, a man, a trans individual, someone who is still questioning – is that there is an infinite amount to learn. We can learn about ourselves, we can learn about others, we can learn what we like and don’t like. And, we can change our minds. We are forever learning, that is…as long as you don’t think sexuality is a no-no. 😉
If you enjoyed this post, please check out the many other BOAW2015 participants.
There are so many stories being shared. And drop me a line! I may be searching for my next tattoo, but I promise to reply.
Hi Everyone! It’s another episode of The Redhots, and we have something a little different in store for you! First, I must sadly say I’m flying solo this month because Shhh – Marcia’s writing/sleeping/writing/sleeping! She’ll be back next month and we have a FABULOUS blog planned for you all!
So this month, I teamed up with the endearing August McLaughlin for her
Beauty of a Woman Blogfest!
Since I believe we all need a little REDHOTness in our lives, I challenged several of my favorite bloggers to share their thoughts on What makes a woman REDHOT? Here’s what they had to say!
I’ve spent a great deal of time in the fashion world and can’t tell you how many of the so-called hottest women around are tepid, sad or apathetic on the inside. We feel and appear hotter when we pursue our passions. When we do what we love and go after it with gusto, our hotness grows and radiates outward, making us feel and appear more attractive. We can’t diet, stylize, fake or buy our way into that kind of beauty—a great thing, in my opinion. – August McLaughlin
Independence. A woman who can stand on her own two feet AND stand her ground when the situation calls for it makes her Redhot in my mind. Or at least that’s what I tell myself since I tend to have a very outspoken and stubborn personality. 🙂 – Tiffany White
A RedHot woman has confidence in her talent, the courage to take risks, and compassion for others in need. – Jolyse Barnett
Then I asked the guys to way in! Cause wouldn’t every woman want to the ability to read a guy’s take on beauty?!
Redhot sexy is a gleam of clever intelligence in the eyes. It is an aura of self-confidence rippling out from a woman like voluminous silken robes. Physical appearance is but an accessory, accentuating the true Redhot woman’s inner luminescence. – Gene Lempp
There are many traits that make a woman redhot, but none of them have to do with physical beauty. There’s intelligence (smart is sexy!) and self-confidence and a great sense of humor. The ability to laugh at yourself and never take life too seriously. Practicing joie de vivre each and every day, without even thinking about it! Not surprisingly, these are all traits that my fiancee possesses – and she is the hottest woman I know! – Mark Petruska
To me a Redhot Woman is someone who knows her own mind, embraces her humanity/success and failure, practices compassion, and never ever wants to stop learning. I was reading something recently about the double standard women face when it comes to “natural beauty” e.g. look beautiful but make it look effortless, and it got me to thinking that beauty is really in the eye of the holder. A woman that can answer the question of what makes her beautiful in a meaningful way is as Redhot as it gets. Oh and weird, too. Weird people are great. – Joe Cardillo
In terms of looks, I think the fashion magazines have it wrong. It’s not being stick thin that makes anyone hot, but muscle tone (and I’m not thinking body builders here!). I know plenty of women who aren’t stick thin but are very beautiful because of this. The other thing is confidence. Confidence and the willingness to work at things (get your mind out of the gutter at this point) makes all the difference. –Nigel Blackwell
Thanks everyone for weighing in! What do I think?
I think a woman’s sexiest attribute is her ability to laugh! To laugh with one’s gut, to be ok with laughing at oneself, and to always, always laugh with one’s friends!
How would I sum up what makes a woman REDHOT and beautiful?
Women wish to be loved not because they are pretty, or good, or well bred, or graceful, or intelligent, But because they are themselves.
What are your thoughts? What do you think makes a woman REDHOT? Who’s the most beautiful woman you know?
And be sure to click over to August’s blog on Friday where she’ll have all the Beauty of a Woman blog posts linked up and ready to read!!! Thanks August for hosting this fun blog hop!