Today is International Women’s Day, “a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.” In China, Russia, Vietnam, Bulgaria, and other scattered locales, International Women’s Day is a national holiday.
The day was originally established in 1911, to honor the work of those who fought for women’s right to vote, and it now celebrates all women’s success while reminding us of the work that still needs to be done.
I’m fortunate to work with successful and powerful women. Every day I see first hand how far women have come and yet, there’s something missing. It seems the higher we climb, the harder we push, the more we lose a bit of ourselves along the way. We live in a culture where extensive value is placed on youth and beauty, and the result is women feeling more insecure than ever about the way they look.
Earlier this week, 12 Years a Slave star Lupita Nyong’o brought the room to the verge of tears as she detailed how racism and western perceptions of beauty made her feel as a young girl of Kenyan descent growing up in Mexico City. As reported in the UK Independent, she said “every day I woke up wishing my skin was a little lighter.” She added that she used to try and “bargain with God” to make that wish come true.
Nyong’o has been stirring audiences with her speeches for the last year, as she’s accepted no less than twenty-four (two dozen!) awards for her absolutely incredible performance.
A Beacon of Joy and Love
She is an example of how our perceptions of our appearance are not what the world sees and of how you can’t let your mind tell you that there is one type of beauty. We hear all the time that beauty comes from within, and it’s true. I see women completely transform in front of my eyes when they simply let go, relax and allow themselves to be vulnerable. An attractive woman without heart loses her looks quickly.
Nyong’o is truly beautiful, but the beauty within outshines even the beauty without. Her poise, her honesty, her willingness to take risks – in her work and in her public appearances – to allow herself to be seen, causes her to be like a shining beacon. She makes us proud, she makes us happy, she moves us.
Letting Love Find You
Like anything that is meaningful, love also requires great risk. It needs you to be bold and lit up from within so it can find you. Your joy and happiness with who you are will be your biggest asset, and the special ingredient that reveals to the world the beautiful woman you already are.
I’d love to hear from you. Do you have an example of a woman who is beautiful both inside and out? Who has overcome a great hurdle or been an example to you? Let’s celebrate the women who truly inspire us. Please share!