Clawing Back Beauty – from Consumption to Sustainability

The phrase “clawing back” surfaced during the congressional hearings about Wells Fargo bank account manipulations.  It refers to taking back a portion of the golden parachute entitled CEOs receive once they leave a company, trailing a raft of shady deals behind, made at their employees’ expense.

Clawing back because men have set the standards, defined the form, the value and their desire to possess beauty for centuries. In this “men’s world”, beauty is visually focused and sexualized. It’s about having your cake and eating it too. Beauty, defined as:

an object that portrays a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.

It’s the shiny skin, the package, but mostly the wrapper.  We see it, we want it, we will have it.

From 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman:

Dominant culture directs men to access beauty through the other, in sexual union with women.  Even inner beauty is largely portrayed as feminine. Those stereotypes are changing, but the current state of political discourse has shined a spotlight on men’s fears that electing a woman President will put the brakes on grabbing what you want.  It’s a threat to beauty as a commodity, which is used and then discarded like any old  wrapper. Their entitlement is waning and an increase in misogyny and violence against women reflects this resentment.

Beauty is different for women. Women are encouraged to embody beauty and have a more nuanced and relational visual representation, as portrayed in Romanian photographer Mihaela Noroc‘s Atlas of Beauty.

We come closer to being in rather than consuming beauty as:

the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).

In our current culture,  beauty’s spiritual qualities are largely ignored, save the occasional nature scene or an emotionally tender moment that evokes the union of love and beauty.  Again, the visual element predominates but the feelings sparked by love or awe bring us to the threshold of another kind of union, less tangible but powerfully moving. Being in beauty calls us to experience the connection we have to life in all its forms.  Less object oriented and individualistic and more part of the greater whole.  In a world that seems more fragmented and conflicted every day, wholeness seems out of reach.  This has not always been so.  This Navajo prayer reflects life rooted in wholeness and in beauty, a more sustainable approach:

Walking In Beauty (Blessing)
Today I will walk out, today everything unnecessary will leave me,
I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body.
I will have a light body, I will be happy forever,
nothing will hinder me.
I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me.
I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me.
I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful.
In beauty all day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With dew about my feet, may I walk.
With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty below me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk.
With beauty all around me may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
My words will be beautiful.

How healing would this life in beauty be? I will follow the beautiful words of this blessing for a month and let my words tell the tale. May your words and your walk be beautiful as well.

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