Beauty and Truth

This weekend I read an interview that was very thought provoking – so I’m mostly stealing others’ words today for my blog post, because they resonated so strongly with me.

Marianne Schnall, creator of The Feminist website, interviewed Margaret Cho for the Huffington Post. The subjects covered were wide ranging, including beauty, eating disorders, gay/lesbian rights, politics, transforming pain into creativity, raising children, and more. You should go read it; I’ll wait.

In case you didn’t click through, here are a few excerpts:

Exclusive Interview with Margaret Cho

MC: “I always thought that people told you that you’re beautiful, that this was a title that was bestowed upon you – that it was other people’s responsibility to give you this title. And I’m sick of waiting, people! [laughs] Waiting around for people to tell me that I was! I’m tired of waiting. And I think that the world is pretty cruel to women, in what it considers beautiful and what it celebrates as beauty. And I think that it’s time to take into our own hands this power and to say, “You know what – I’m beautiful – I just am. And that’s my light – I’m just a beautiful woman.”

Cho continues to talk about calling yourself beautiful almost a political act, that the more women feel beautiful, the more inclined they are to use their voice:

MC: “And express their opinion and feel powerful. Like when you feel beauty – and beauty for women is definitely power. When you feel powerful, you are willing to stand up for your rights, you are willing to stand up for what you believe in, you’re more willing to stand up and be counted. I think it goes deeper than just something that’s about looks or something that’s about any kind of sexual power or whatever – it really has to do with pride. And pride and a sense of self, and a sense of worth.”

Sadly, although I’ve enjoyed her comedy, I’ve never known that Margaret Cho was such a deep and profound thinking on such a broad range of issues that are near and dear to my heart; I will be listening more closely to her in the future.

Her words made me think of one of my all time favorite quotes, this time from spiritual guru Marianne Williamson’s book A Woman’s Worth.

MW: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Interestingly enough, these resonated especially strongly with me right now because I had a friend recently tell me I am beautiful. My first response was to self-deprecate – and I was gently corrected. Thank you – you know who you are. :)

Note: I am not fishing for compliments, and indeed, may smack those who deliver such upside the head.

So, my friends, know that you are beautiful – I wouldn’t care for you if I didn’t think so! Go forth and let your light shine. :)

5 Responses to “Beauty and Truth”

  1. Tania Says:

    At lunch today my friend Joe and I were talking about self-esteem, women, and what they are willing to put up with based on how they/we perceive ourselves. This would’ve fit right into our discussion. More interesting thoughts…

    Shine on!

  2. Random Michelle Says:

    “No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told they’re pretty, even if they aren’t.”
    –Marilyn Monroe

  3. Gene Says:

    Jeri,
    I have always loved Margaret Cho! I think her comedy is funny and thought provoking at the same time. I also have seen her in multiple interviews and she is wonderful. I have one book of hers on audio and several others in printed form. If you would like to borrow them you may!

  4. Dr. Phil Says:

    I’d only ever seen Cho as a stand-up until a couple of years ago she started doing some commentaries, including some on NPR as I recall. And found that she’d had a lot of deep thoughts. Changes how you view her comedy, knowing that there’s more at work under the hood of those jokes…

    Dr. Phil

  5. Beast Mom Says:

    So many thoughts on this topic…here are a few. Or many. I don’t know how long I will ramble. ;)

    Here goes.

    I think it is often (not always) the larger circle of women who help cause this swirling vortex of insecurity among one another. So many women are very bad at genuinely being happy for other women, even those they call friends. The teen version of that is cattiness or outright bitchiness towards another. The adult version of that is either coldness or thinly disguised expressions of praise or support which aren’t really meant very wholeheartedly. It’s quite rare that I sense genuine support from a female friend when I have true reason to shine about something in life. And it’s far more often that I get this odd feeling that some other woman just isn’t happy for me, no matter how small or large the “shining” circumstances, whether I got a short story published or just got a nice haircut.

    It is not only us individually who de-appreciate or deprecate. Others around us can do it too, albeit very slyly at times, but the cut is still palpable if one stops to acknowledge the gut feeling that just isn’t a GOOD feeling somehow. One tiny (but maybe not so tiny) example of this is the female phraseology: “I hate you.” This is meant as some odd kind of “compliment”. If you, for example, get a super cute hairdo (which you recently did) and someone else compares their own unstyled do and decides it’s inferior to yours, they might jovially say, “Your haircut is SO cute! I hate you! I wish my hair would do that!”

    I really dislike this way of “complimenting” a female friend. There is an unecessary comparison, an unnecessary cut, a slant that could be different (and better). All of it is meant to indirectly mar the other’s shine a bit, even if the person is trying really hard to do their best at being supportive.

    Not all my female friends are bad at supporting friends. Some are very good at it. I’m just pointing out that women as a whole CAN hinder one another’s “shine”, and then blame a whole bunch of other stuff “out there” for their situations. While XXY external factors certainly affect women’s perceptions of self, and better to shake that stuff off, the Larger Circle of Women should also be more genuinely supportive for one another – in action and language, and maybe particularly in the millions of more truthful, HIDDEN conversations – the things we all say to OTHER women about someone else when that woman being talked about isn’t present. It all contributes to the Larger Circle of Women, the culture and vibe and spirit.

    But that said, what we don’t have can serve to make us stronger I suppose. Without resistance and adversity, no one develops strength or deep roots of truth. And regardless of what opposition there is, one has to find her own truths.

    -bm