The Holidays and Beauty

The Monroe family at a Cleveland-area Walmart were among the many who benefited from a Secret Santa on Dec. 15, 2015. Although the Holidays are a time that many people look forward to, they are also a time that can inspire dread for a variety of reasons. Holidays can magnify or bring to the fore loss, emptiness, or past painful experiences. For example, the absence of a loved one at a family gathering can trigger negative emotions, in the same way that the presence of a family member with whom one has a strained relationship can. For women, the Holidays can be a busy time trying to juggle daily responsibilities with -- among numerous other tasks -- caregiving for children on school break, shopping for and sending Holiday cards and gifts, and planning for and preparing to attend or to host the one or many family gatherings.

The Holidays are also a time that many people are inspired to do good, in both big and small ways. For example, just this past week in Northeast Ohio, an anonymous donor paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills of shoppers at two area Wal-Mart stores. Adopting a family in need -- and fulfilling their needs list -- as a moms' group that I belong to just did, is an example of a small way to do good.  Some parallels can be drawn, here, between the Holidays and beauty. Just like the Holidays, beauty can elicit mixed emotions for individuals, especially for girls and women. Although many women desire to feel beautiful and to have a positive attitude and outlook toward beauty, more women than not  contend with the unrealistic, exclusionary, mainstream standards of beauty. But the limits placed on the definition of beauty can also inspire good -- like The Hollywood Beauty Detective! The Hollywood Beauty Detective movement is trying to do good on matters beauty by interrogating the pervasive, narrow ideals that continue to be held up in the west and to be exported elsewhere, with the ultimate goal of reframing and broadening our ideas of beauty. So, as part of the holiday spirit this year and in years to come, let us redefine beauty -- outer, inner, and everything in between -- so that it is inclusive of the many different forms that beauty takes.