I came across this meme on Instagram about beauty. It sported the face of a woman wearing perfect make-up. Well, if we’re judging by today’s standards at-least. Cartoon-smooth skin, contoured lines, under-eye concealer. Ultra sculpted cheek bones, highlighters and brows on fleek. The caption read – you can be as pretty as you like, but “prettiness is not the rent you pay for occupying a space in this world?”.

Think about it. That’s a pretty powerful sentence, with its feel-good and empowering message, but I’m still rather intrigued by its possible interpretation.

So through my research, I uncover this beautiful piece;

“I’m not saying that women SHOULDN’T be pretty if they want to. Pretty is pleasant, and fun, and satisfying, and makes people smile, often even at you. But in the hierarchy of importance, pretty stands several rungs down from happy, is way below healthy, and if done as a penance, or an obligation, can be so far away from independent that you may have to squint really hard to see it in the haze.”

Miss South Africa

All images by O’Brien Design.

This morning, I read a piece with a similar message. It started out by saying we live in a world where people have become more obsessed with facial beauty rather than optimum bodily health. We live in a world where facts matter less than the way you present them. We live in a world where people don’t often think much about fulfillment and living in the present moment anymore. Even worse, almost nothing shocks us anymore.

miss SA

As far as womanhood goes, we live in an appearance-obsessed world where being dissatisfied with the way you look is considered ‘normal’. Worse still, is the notion that what is beautiful is good.  We are informed, directly or implicitly, that beauty is synonymous with success, happiness and fulfilling relationships. Of course, most people don’t say that out loud, but it’s part of our society’s consciousness.

miss sa

In a casual chat with current Miss SA semi-finalist and dear friend, I ask the pageant queen about her beliefs on beauty and femininity in a world where the role of women is becoming increasingly recognized. Below’s a round-up:

Age is not an issue for a classy woman. Age can and often does do great things for a woman – including comfort in her own skin, if she loves herself.

Lead and innovate. Emulating everything you see isn’t a strong reflection of character.

While it can be helpful to “fake” confidence at times when you don’t really feel it, to make true personal progress and be one of those rare women who are able to come across as authentically confident, you must start by being honest with yourself and where you are at in life.

A high quality woman is a woman of value and a woman of value is one who values the happiness of others, and who is considerate.

Do things that support your sense of self-worth.

A woman with grace enters a room and all heads turn.

Politics exist in all circles. Communicate effectively. Stay true to yourself.

Prettiness is definitely not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female’. Girls are told this whole idea that they have to be this kind of princess and be all delicate and fragile. That’s a myth. We are strong, intelligent and ambitious enough to change humanity.

Being beautiful is something worldly and materialistic. Feeling beautiful is different. Women are worth more than shallow attention and a like on a photo.

When women support each other, beautiful things happen.

Do you agree, that a woman’s role in society is infinite? In other words, it’s not just to be beautiful. It is not just to be pretty or hot. It’s rather, immeasurable and worthy of providing a serving hand in the midst of a sometimes chaotic existence. But what if it’s a woman’s true desire to want to be pretty too? Well then, that’s just the cherry on top isn’t it?

Miss SA

As far as friendship goes, we both agree that although female friendships are often trivialized, you know it’s real when you can still validate each others integrity – despite all the envy and trolling that being successful can bring.

Here’s wishing my friend the best with her journey on the road to Miss SA!

xoxo