It doesn’t matter what she looks like.
Nor her plumes
Not her shape, nor even her size.
Her age irrelevant her skin unrealised
When she looks eye to eye and speaks her beauty blooms!
For once her petals open it is discovered
Woman blossoms when she feels beloved.
– Manly, Australia.
I wrote this poem about an American woman I met on a dive off a beach near Manly. She was there with her elderly father, who accompanied her on a holiday she was clearly excited about.
The popular standard of beauty is pervasive and grips us all. I am not free of it, even though I actively reject it. Even though I know beauty is subjective, and what counts as beautiful had shifted many times across time and space.
So I noticed with my first impression that – by the standards of our time – she would not do well.
But then, she smiled. And she spoke. And almost immediately, not a single one of those measures mattered any more. She felt so beautiful.
Of course all of us who resist being shallow people know this is a truth. When you can see with your feelings, what the eyes see is adjusted by the brain. But personally, that was the quickest, clearest pivot the cultural beauty programming had ever made in my mind. So it was memorable.
Observing her, and her father, I realised why she commanded beauty. Deep down from my own experience as a woman, I knew my epiphany to be true.
She is a woman who is loved – and she believes it.