Many Brushes: A Mother's Thoughts on Beauty as Featured in The Pioneer Issue
Whether you are a teenager or well into your golden years, the desire to be beautiful is natural. This desire can be driven by an internal, but not always natural or externally-inspired desire, especially for women. It seems every day offers new breakthroughs to look better or younger. The beauty industry is full of new methods, gadgets and products promising to free you from wrinkles, plump lips and derive shine from your locks. And we want to be clear, we all love a great moisturizer or lipstick that enhances natural beauty. But to be defined by how you look would be as Kindra Sullivan says, “to paint your entire self with just one brush.” And you are so much more than the single brush of your appearance. At least we think so.
To celebrate this idea we talked with mother Kindra Sullivan. Her daughter, Phiefer served as model for transforming this idea into a styled story, and well, we think it’s beautiful. And Phiefer is also generous, strong, helpful, athletic, inquisitive, observant, calm, graceful, genuine, sassy, hardworking, meticulous, persistent and lovable - just to name a few of her other ‘brushes’ as you can see in the ribbons that embrace her.
Thoughts on Beauty by Kindra Sullivan
The Pressure of Beauty
I think it is just a natural part of society - all societies. People naturally like to look at pretty things, and women have been deemed beautiful throughout time and across the world. There is nothing wrong with being outwardly beautiful. The pressure to be outwardly beautiful is hard to avoid, but when it becomes the only thing, the only aspiration, that is when it is a problem.
What’s on the Inside
Well, as we know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is fickle and changes suddenly, and you can't please everyone's idea of what is beautiful. Aspiring to be beautiful is somewhat unfulfilling as much of it is out of your control. So, I feel it is important to focus on strengths beyond a beautiful exterior. I strive to shed light on what makes a person beautiful and unique on the inside. I strive to highlight the traits that are within their control - things they can say, they want to be and want to work towards.
I think focusing on inner beauty gives them a sense of influence and identity. If they say, “I am hard working, I am kind hearted, I am competitive,” or “I am empathetic,” it has much more weight and they can carry that with them wherever they go and for the rest of their lives. They can work on it, improve it, change it and claim it as their own. I think that builds a more beautiful girl and thus woman, than someone born with the right color eyes and long legs.
We celebrate their strengths by letting them identify their strengths for themselves. I have three daughters and each has an inner beauty, unique to themselves. To say “You are beautiful,” is to paint them with one brush which is inaccurate and incomplete. When they label themselves as confident, kind-hearted, quick-witted or athletic, that is concrete and definable and we can talk about it as part of who they are. And I think that is empowering.
Body Image and Security
I am always talking about what an amazing thing the human body is (and I truly believe this). I talk about the science behind your body, how it cures colds, fights infections, carries a baby, kicks a soccer ball, leaps and dances and even heals from devastation and injury. I teach her that her body has a purpose and that it is more wondrous than we can ever imagine. My message is always that your body is more than something pretty to look at, more than something for a boy to lust after and more than the outward appearance. It should be held in awe, taken care of, and appreciated for all of the amazing things it does. After having four kids, my body has some sags and stretches and jiggles that I (privately) wish weren't there. But, I never complain about them. I embrace them, even brag about them and make sure the kids hear how much I love my body because it brought me four miracles. I am proud of that physical feat every single day. I believe leading through example will have the largest impact on how she sees herself.
Find more inspiring stories in our latest issue The Pioneer Issue, now on news stands!
Artistic Credits: Photography by Kent Avenue Photography Calligraphy by Feast Fine Art & Calligraphy Ribbon from Silk & Willow Paint Brushes from Lulu Pom Los Gatos Hair by Mariel Gonsavles Makeup by Bobbi Brown Model, Phiefer Sullivan