In the Eye of the Beholder
I’m not sure I like or even really believe that subjective beauty is determined by the eye of the beholder. That gives all the power to someone else to decide if I am beautiful. Why would I want to give away 100% of my power to someone, anyone who is only using only 20% of their sensory capability? In my heart I simply have to believe there is a way a person can possess confidence in their appearance or attractiveness regardless of what others see.
“I don’t think I’m pretty!” I spluttered in-between pitiful sobs as I buried my head into my father’s shoulder. I was a hormonal 14-year-old girl in the throes of comparing myself to Farrah Fawcett, Marsha Brady and the popular girls at school…it was the 70’s, need I say more.
My Dad lifted my tear stained face, looked straight into my big green eyes and said “you most certainly are pretty…you look just like me, and I’m darn good looking.” As always, he knew just how to empower me with the gentle truth and support my besieged self-confidence.
It wasn’t just the fact my Dad thought I was pretty. He encouraged me to “feel” beautiful, because I was made in his image. That became something I could internalize and believe in.
Perhaps I was a bit of an ugly duckling at 14. Admittedly, my body was as straight as a picket-fence post (not a curve in sight), I wore coke bottle thick glasses, had a full set of railroad track braces (including the headgear) and had poker straight hair. But my round eyes were his, my quick smile, my golden hair color, the shape of my face and even my personality made me undeniably his female mini-me.
I share this story with you because for months I contemplated how low vision/blindness affects self-image, a sense of self-beauty and the concept of attraction. I never forgot the impact of my father’s words and the fact I said the very same thing to my three sons (who also look exactly like me) when adolescence shook their self-image.
So, as a visually handicapped person I contemplated, “How can I know I am aesthetically beautiful or attractive when I can’t see myself?”
I concluded the answer to the question can be found from two sources. One, in the truth of knowing we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:1:26–27) and second, learning how beauty/attraction is meant to be experienced by mankind (the beholder), both physically and emotionally.
Being married to a plastic surgeon I have the inside scoop on what cosmetic/reconstructive experts consider objective, physical aesthetic beauty. He read to me medical articles on what the “western” eye finds attractive and it involves both proportions and physical measurements a person is born with. As with most disciplines there has to be a standard and beauty is no exception.
Don’t talk to me about being self-conscious about how you look…I live with a man whose job is to address the self-identified physical flaws of a patient. My advice is don’t ever ask a plastic surgeon “what would you fix on me?”– Unless you are paying for the answer!
Blindness, however, showed me real beauty isn’t only a noun or something to be measured, as it is also meant to be a verb. Beauty is designed to be experienced and attraction is equal parts emotional (non-visual) and visual.
For me, I would have to say it’s the simple non-visual responses of my other four senses that help me experience beauty. It’s the characteristics that cannot be distinguished by our most practiced way of seeing beauty. I believe in the unconventional ways to possess self-worth related to aesthetic beauty and the power to attract…even without sight.
The sound of a photographer’s camera clicking as I model, means I am creating great poses worthy of the photo.
The seductive brush of a kiss on my cheek from my husband means I have the ability to attract. The silky weight of a satin dress sliding on my skin empowers my feminine curves. The genuinely warm embrace of a dear friend lets me know I am loved. The sexy scent of my favorite perfume on my wrists is the smell of my confidence. I walk differently knowing my legs look long when I am standing tall in a fabulous pair of 4-inch stilettos. Sticky lip-gloss makes my lips feel soft, giving my smile the glint of female intrigue and influence. Appreciating that the sound of my name from a friendly voice can vanquish the feelings of being invisible which blindness can inflict.
All of these things make me feel beautiful, yet they can’t be measured with a ruler or seen…they are experienced with pleasure. Each person is entitled to his or her own definition of beauty and every culture expresses it in a distinct way. But beauty is much, much more than what others behold or even what you can see.
Blind or sighted, it is a part of you, internal, formidable and free to be experienced. Putting on confidence and knowing in whose image you are created are the first steps to a positive self-image. Then you have the power to decide, to choose, if you will believe in your beauty by the experience of all your sense’s…or rely on what other’s behold.
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Connecting With Catherine:
- Instagram: @CatherineHarrison_Model
- Facebook: @ModelCatherineHarrison
- Website: linktr.ee/catherineharrison_model
Catherine is both fearless in the face of a challenge and skilled at defying the stereotypes assigned to women over 50 and to the handicapped. As a former professional ballerina, who studied at Julliard’s School of American Ballet, Catherine brings that same discipline, grace and poise to being a model who happens to be blind.
Catherine started her modeling career in the 1980’s working her way through nursing school. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and was an operating room nurse for many years before losing the majority of her eyesight. Although only partially sighted, due to a progressive retinal disease, she is very independent and uses her white cane for mobility.
Today, Catherine combines her skills as a ballerina, 10+ years of weight training and her knowledge as a nurse to become a popular certified fitness instructor, teaching stretching/flexibility class. Her lean, athletic physique and positive approach to fitness/nutrition/beauty at every age makes her both a role model and expert in what an active, healthy lifestyle can be.
Her encouraging message of perseverance and strength regardless of circumstances led Catherine to be a sought-after public speaker and writer for more than 10 years.
- The header contains the quote: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson. Background image is one yellow umbrella among a vast group of black umbrellas.
- Catherine appears in deep thought while sittting on the floor with her arms around her knees in a white shirt.
- In this shot Catherine is looking directly at the camera with her hands cupping her face and wearing a black tank top.
- Catherine is sitting in a chair wearing a green slip dress with gold dangling earrings and a bracelet.
- Author bio photo is a headshot of Catherine who has short blonde hair and mesmerizing green eyes. She is wearing a tan colored jacket over a white top.