Whenever I see a quotation or witticism related to some sort of product, especially a product marketed to women, I prepare myself to be pandered to. The instinct is so strong I sometimes have to force myself to read quotations outside of the confines of news articles or books. That attitude does admittedly prevent me from enjoying quite a lot of lovely sayings, though. Sometimes, the right words said in the right way can make you consider yourself and the world enough to go through the day with a new realization and a fresh outlook about yourself and your own intrinsic beauty. Here are some quotations that have brightened my day.
1. Ariana Grande
“I think it’s so important for girls to love themselves and to treat their bodies respectfully.”
Ariana Grande – Butera is a Florida native and daughter of graphic designer Edward Butera and Joan Grande, CEO of Hose-McCann Communications. She became involved in local theater and musical projects at a young age and had her debut role on Broadway at the age of 15. In many ways, her success as a Nickelodeon star and musician was unsurprising due to her extensive training and vocal chops.
“Loving yourself” is a term that’s thrown around a lot these days, and it means quite a few different things depending on who’s using the term. Keeping in mind another one of her statements (“Be happy being you. Love your flaws. Own your quirks.”), I can assume she means forgiving the genuine flaws that we all have and embracing parts of ourselves others find strange or ugly. It isn’t easy for everyone, a girl or not, to realize that their bodies are beautiful just for doing the intricate and difficult job of keeping them alive. Respecting your body for the work it does is much fairer than stooping to think of it in the terms that society labels it with. Maybe your eyebrows don’t match. Maybe you’ve had acne for a long, long time. Maybe your physique is healthy but doesn’t fit the current ideal of beauty. Your body is still amazing, though, and there’s no need to abuse it or fail to treat it as best you can.
2. FKA twigs
“Being beautiful isn’t everything… Sometimes it’s interesting to show how you feel on the inside on the outside, just through expressing yourself.”
Tahliah Debrett Barnett is a British dancer, musician, and music producer. She is a native of Gloucestershire, England, and underwent many years of classical music training such as opera and ballet at the suggestion of her mother, a salsa dancer. Barnett, nicknamed “Twigs,” worked as a barmaid as she worked her way into the music industry as a backup dancer for music videos and skits. She later decided that she wanted to be a singer and songwriter in her own right, and became acclaimed in the United Kingdom.
FKA twigs is not conventionally attractive but is undeniably beautiful. Despite this, as her fame grew, she began receiving disparaging comments about her appearance and race. It isn’t surprising that she would want to stop thinking about whether or not she was beautiful, and the neverending circle of why and how others are wrong or right. FKA twigs’s work is wonderfully expressive and dynamic, and it couldn’t achieve that level of beauty if Twigs were so caught up in how she would be perceived after the work was finished. Her lack of concern in the beautiful-ugly dichotomy and desire to communicate her true feelings is what makes her so unforgettable.
3. Rosalind Russell
“Taking joy in living is a woman’s best cosmetic.”
Catherine Rosalind Russel was a comedian and Tony and Oscar-winning actress who starred in movies from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Her late-career role as Mame Dennis in Auntie Mame, a highly successful film, was actually designed by her and not the directors. One of her lines, which is similar to the first quotation, is this: “Live, that’s the message! […] Yes! Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!” She certainly lived by that mantra with her witty and assertive characters and the forceful way she took hold of her career in a time when many actresses were tightly controlled in Hollywood.
It’s not just a nice sentiment, it’s psychologically true. Various studies have indicated that most people rate other people looking directly into their eyes and smiling as more attractive than others. People with more positive emotions over a lifetime have stabler emotions and interpersonal relations, and also tend to live longer. When you exude positivity and joy, you end up spreading it to others around you, whether they want to smile or not. Taking joy in life isn’t just a cosmetic, it’s a beauty party.
4. Jacqueline Bisset
“Character contributes to beauty. It fortifies a woman as her youth fades. A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude, and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful.”
It’s well-known that most actresses lose their popularity as they age. For someone who was dubbed “the most beautiful film actress of all time” by Newsweek in 1977, you’d think Winifred Jacqueline Fraser-Bisset would go the way of padded shoulders, beehive hairdos, or public reverence for Hollywood celebrities. You would be wrong: she’s won and been nominated for 28 awards, and is still acting to this day despite the fact she’s 75 years old, earning her a dedicated and serious-minded fanbase. One of those awards happens to be France’s highest honor, Légion d’honneur.
It only makes sense that you should work on your character and abilities while also taking care of your health. If all goes well, you’ll likely be old longer than you’re young and hot/pretty. If you work hard enough, though, you can be beautiful forever!
5. Hannah Arendt
“In order to go on living one must try to escape the death involved in perfectionism.”
Hanna Arendt was a Jewish political philosopher whose writings are widely influential in political theory. One of her less-known works, Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewess, is the biography of a 19th-century Jewish woman who was exiled from Germany because she was a Jew. While she was writing the book, Hannah Arendt was also exiled from Germany for being a Jew. Even with these problems and the turmoil the world was going through in that time period, she still had time to wrestle with the neverending desire to be perfect. That’s something a lot of us can relate to.
Being perfectionistic means excessively high personal standards and overly critical self-evaluations. Not only is it linked to cardiovascular disease, depression, and anxiety disorders, it can affect how you view your own beauty. Everyone has had that friend who is always fiddling with their hair or makeup or putting down how they look in a desperate attempt to get a much-needed complement. I know you’ve probably already heard it all before—no one cares that much about your appearance, no one’s perfect, blah blah motivational poster blah. It’s all true, though, and you know it.
6. Coco Chanel
“I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little – if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny. And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.”
Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was a French fashion designer, perfumier, and Nazi spy whose designs for women’s clothing changed fashion forever after the World War One era. She was raised in an orphanage by nuns, who taught her how to sew. She was introduced to the fashion industry by lovers and their connections, but just as her business was really taking off in Paris, it was occupied by Nazis. She used her connections with both German military officers and Allied figures to give and pass information to and from Madrid, allegedly to get her nephew, André Palasse, and her friend, Vera Lombardi, out of Axis prison.
Her statement about dressing up might be a bit judgemental, and it was probably meant that way. Sometimes, however, standards are inspiring, and Chanel’s standards got her far in the world of beauty. I wrote earlier about loving yourself and trying to make a statement about yourself. Part of that is styling yourself to your standards of beauty when you go out to make sure others can see your worth. People are shallow when it comes to first impressions, and you have no one better than yourself to advocate for the respect you deserve.
7. Naomi Watanabe
“I slowly adapted to a more positive mindset thanks to the overwhelming support that I received from my fans who cheered me on.”
Naomi Watanabe is a Taiwanese-Japanese comedian, entertainer, and fashion designer who is currently the most followed person on Instagram, with a 9 million follower count. She learned at an early age that she enjoys making people laugh. She entered a training school for entertainers instead of high school, and her breakout performance was impersonating Beyoncé on the comedy show Waratte Iitomo! She now owns a fashion company called Punyus, which she created in order to cater to plus-sized women.
Part of why she’s famous is that she’s twice the size of an average Japanese woman. In many interviews, she’s said that she was teased during her school years for being fat, and it wasn’t until she met many people in the entertainment industry that complimented her on her looks that she started being confident about her beauty. It makes sense to me that she would need to hear that she’s beautiful from other people to gain substantial self-esteem. It is hard or impossible to create self-esteem from nothing; like other aspects of our mind, it’s shaped by how others interact with us. If no one around you helps you realize what is beautiful about yourself, it may be time to diversify the people you surround yourself with.
Lauren is a writer who spent two years teaching English in Japan and is curious about skincare products. Though she lives in America now, she is still in love with Tohoku. Her short stories and essays can be found in The Vortex Magazine of Literature and Art and Cirsova.
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