We live in a made-up world. And one of the things that has been invented is the beauty ideal. It is body focussed and soul-less in its orientation.
The adverts on the bus tell us in so many ways that we are not enough. Not airbrushed enough, not tiny enough around our waists, not perfect enough. I cringe as I watch impressionable, unsure teenagers staring up at these images. Why does my facial hair not look like that? Wow I'm really not thin enough. My muscles aren't big enough. My teeth aren't straight enough. Not enough. That is the message the world needs us to believe so that we buy the hairdryers and the movie tickets and the magazines and the branded clothes.
And as my daughter, at seven years old, is slowly beginning to wake up to the world and all its strange messages (and with a son close behind), I am inquiring more deeply into what true beauty really is - for men and women. Whether we are parents or not, there is a generation of children watching us, learning from us. What concept of beauty do we want to pass on?
Once we start to wake up to what true beauty is, the people on the bus with their chiselled cheekbones and flawless skin start to look pretty strange. And we get bowled over by the beauty of the presence of somebody lighting a candle with their full attention or the rawness and light in the eyes of a friend after they have sobbed uncontrollably and released a year's worth of grief in your arms.
Too many of us are hiding, trying to pretend we are not comparing our physical selves to the ideals the world has made. Too many of us are walking around thinking we are not enough. And the bit we really need to look at is that this distracts us from how deeply beautiful we are: from our true soul beauty.
And when we know this - that our beauty comes from our soul - we can lead the way for our children and for each other. We can relax into our being and know that our humanness, our rawness, our honesty, our willingness to stand up for what we believe in - THIS is what makes us beautiful.
And it's time to start making this message more important than the ones that fly past us on the adverts on the buses and on the billboards and in the magazines.
By bring more of ourselves to our lives, being more honest, more open, more willing to bring it all to the table in the knowledge that Who We Really Are remains untouched and eternally beautiful and loving, whatever happens in our made-up world, we create a pathway for True Beauty to be valued and honoured.
It's definitely time...