As I sit down — on this beautiful fall day — to write my first blog on a topic that I’ve become increasingly interested in, I can’t help, but reflect on how I got here. You see, I have never really been one to be fascinated about beauty — at least, not the external form of it (yeah, I know, my siblings and some of my friends would disagree). But over the years, my work with women, and on women’s issues around the globe, as well as my personal politics, have pushed me to ruminate about and to interrogate the idea of beauty as it intersects with other aspects of women’s lives.
Throughout my higher education, and later, my academic and practice work with women and on women’s issues, I have had the great privilege of experiencing firsthand, and secondarily, through readings and discussions, the struggles, challenges, resilience, accomplishments, joys, and many other material and non-material conditions, common (albeit with specific nuances), to women of all walks of life. It is insight from this work that has enticed me to seek to explore that which lies within and beyond women’s external beauty, in all of its complexity and multifaceted forms. In other words, to attempt to examine and understand, from the inside out, women’s conditions and lives as shaped by (and, in turn, as they shape) race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexual orientation, national origin, age, marital status, ability, and other categories of difference. A focus on “the soul reflected outward” — as Holly Fulger puts it — is my current working definition of inner beauty.
My meeting of Holly could not have happened at a better time; our friendship and her project have offered me an avenue to explore and work together on expanding the definition and understanding of beauty. And I’m thrilled to be in the company of fellow women bloggers, whose inner beauty shines through to the outside.