Thursday, February 10, 2011

Heather, Blogger, Denver

When I first stumbled upon Faces of Beauty, I was mesmerized. I’m a chronic voyeur, preferring to (discreetly, but of course!) watch people on the subway rather than Sudoku, so any collection of faces is basically catnip to me. But what makes this different than a mere photo gallery is what each photo subject says about herself: Woman after woman proclaiming not only that she is beautiful, but why she’s beautiful. We see Clare honor her father’s rosy cheeks and her mother’s undereye circles; we see Katie define her beauty in verbs only; we see Alexia simply state, “I am beautiful because I say I am.”

Heather Disarro is the woman who gives Clare, Katie, Alexia, and dozens more beautiful women their voice on Faces of Beauty. After 14 years of struggling with disordered eating, Heather was able to see through the truth she’d been denying herself: Beautiful as-is, she’d been robbing herself for those years of the chance to spread her message of beauty. “We’re never promised tomorrow, and I’m not wasting one more second of this precious life...letting someone the defining factor of whether or not I’m beautiful!” she writes. Heather wrote to me about her reasons for starting the blog, the role her religion has played in her path to self-acceptance, and why the “elevator meeting” might be triggering a spate of unhealthy behaviors. In her own words:  

On Blogging Beauty
The goal of Faces of Beauty is to bring about a revolution in the way we see ourselves. There are so many women who think they need to be a certain size, wear certain clothes, wear makeup, and conform to a certain look to be beautiful, when in fact the entire reason they are beautiful in the first place is due to their specific, unique, individual beauty. I think that even though we all feel that we should strive for a certain kind of beauty, we are still hesitant to claim it. Faces of Beauty asks you to shout out loud that you are beautiful!

More than anything it's been really cool for me to see what people love about themselves.  I think we focus so much on what we LOOK like on the outside and never really take the time to see what's beautiful on the inside. As Sophia Loren once said, "Beauty is how you feel on the inside and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical." I've seen that quote reflected in the things that women have said about themselves on the blog more than anything else, and it's been the biggest blessing!

On Faith
As a Christian I fully admit that I am sinful; my sin and my “god” for the longest time was trying to look a certain way, appear a certain way, be a certain way. But the fact that Christ died for my sins and I’ve been set free from a life of slavery to that sin is huge. I am free, I am loved, and I am beautiful because I am born anew in Christ, and not because of anything that I have done. I would say that it plays a very large part in me learning to love myself and in my becoming the woman I am today.

Psalm 45:1 reads: “The king is enthralled with your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.” More than anything this passage is a reminder to me that my allegiance is to God, and nothing else...not myself, not my husband, not my looks. I'm to honor God above all else! If beauty is the one thing you worry about it and it's an all-consuming thing, that's not healthy. I would call that a sin, as I would anything that is an all-consuming issue.

I don't think we should judge anyone as we're called to love all people. I am a sinner, we are all sinners, and whether it's vanity, eating issues, adultery, pornography,'s all the same in God's eyes. As for how to find the middle ground, I think the biggest thing for me was learning over time that I don't need to wear makeup or a certain pant size to be beautiful. Honestly there were a lot of stops along the way, but it was really a factor of time and love from others that made me realize how beautiful I am...and I don't have to try.

On “Getting the Look You Want”
I think that we’ve become a culture where the “elevator meeting”—what can you find out about someone in the time it takes to ride an elevator—has become the norm, and therefore physical appearance plays a large role in that. We also are completely surrounded by media that portrays women in a very unrealistic way, but since there’s no equally matched authority saying that we’re beautiful as we are, we tend to accept what’s immediately in front of us. Being “beautiful” feels accessible all the time, and if you don’t like your look? Just save enough money and have surgery. It’s much more acceptable to do that now, and just the other day I heard an ad for Sounds like an environmental organization—but it’s a plastic surgeon’s office advising people to “come in and get the look you want.”

When I started reading Teen and Seventeen magazines I was probably around 13-14 years old.  If I were looking back on me now, I was at a fairly awkward point then, sporting braces and frizzy hair and trying to keep up with the latest fashion trends. At the time I didn’t realize that I had a longer torso, closer-set hips, and broad, athletic shoulders. I saw that my body looked different, and attempted to act accordingly. The thing is that I was adorable just like that, and I hope that my daughters (if I have any) are able to see the beauty in their awkwardness!

On Makeup
I wake up every morning and wash my face. I apply mascara when I’m going to work or church, and otherwise tend to go without. I brush my teeth, apply moisturizer, and curl my eyelashes.  That’s about it! When I was younger I tried doing the full beauty routine with concealer, powder, blush, and the full gamut in eye makeup, but when I entered college and was working out regularly I just decided it would be easier to stick with mascara—waterproof so it didn't run when I was running—and that habit has just stuck with me. It's not that I think makeup is bad; I think it's the attitude that it's worn with. I don't mind playing with it from time to time, but I know in my heart that I don't NEED it to be beautiful.

On Her Blog’s Tagline: “Do You Believe That You Are Truly Beautiful?”
YES! :)


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