Thanks are due for the second year in a row to the lovely and talented writer August McLaughlin, and her wonderful idea for a blog festival. Inspired by Sam Levinson’s poem The Beauty of a Woman, which you can read on August’s blog here, we are talking about beauty, feeling beautiful, aging gracefully, and that inner glow. Check out her blog today and tomorrow for stories, prizes, and links to other great blogs!
My contribution from last year surprised even me. As I said then, this blogging thing never really turns out how you expect, but something is always revealed. For this year’s post, I got to thinking about the question, “When have you felt most beautiful?”
I came across Gustav Klimt’s painting The Three Ages of Woman recently as I researched a character for my novel-in-progress. I have been fortunate to see the original in the Museo d’Arte Moderna in Rome. I came around a tucked-away corner, and there it was, at the end of a hallway. Klimt’s figures in this work represent the triangle of femininity often embraced by western culture and repeated in stories, marketing, and media — the Virgin, the Mother, and the Crone. Though not as celebrated as The Kiss, The Three Ages of Woman is interesting in Internet reproduction and stunning in the gold-leaf splendor of the original. The detail of the mother and her little sleeping daughter, lovely. The figure of the crone…well…but that’s the one that draws you in, for its gritty, powerful reality. The knotty knuckles, the fall of wavy grey hair, the strong wide feet. And you know, the more you look at the work, the more it is the crone that is the beautiful one — every bit as appealing as the swirling loveliness of the sweet mother and infant. Here in that stark figure is the truth of a life lived and survived.
I have come to think, however, that a woman experiences beauty not in stages as in Klimt’s painting, but in moments. More like the beads I used to string on dental floss with my young daughters. Some patterns were repeated, some were unique. Some of the necklaces were large and lovely to be seen in public, and some were small and completed only for private viewing, to be tucked away in a secret place, or your heart. So to answer the question, “When have you felt most beautiful?” here are some, a very few, of MY moments:
- Pulling on my little white gloves with the pearl button on the wrist and the white marabou around the cuffs at about age six.
- When all of my bridesmaids helped me dress in the cramped choir room in the church where I was married, and the moment after that when my husband-to-be laid eyes on me at the end of the aisle.
- The incredibly soft star-shaped hands of my daughter stroking my arm as she nursed.
- My girls piled on either side of me in bed as we read a book of their choosing.
- Beating another bike racer to the line in a full-out sprint.
- Right now, remembering all these things.
What are some of YOUR moments? Do women’s lives have stages? Are all stages beautiful?
Painting at right: Klimt’s Goldfish