True Beauty

True Beauty is having a moment, and I’m LOVING it!

This week reality flexed it’s muscles, pushed aside all of the plastic noise, and revealed some spectacular truth.

First up, blowing the doors off the place & nearly breaking the internet was one of the most gorgeous women ever to walk the earth – the one and only Cindy Crawford. Her supermodel status is historic. Take notes, Kate Upton. The boss is here.

I’ve aspired to look more like Ms. Crawford ever since a 10-year-old Happy Exhaustion first laid eyes on her in George Michael’s ‘Freedom! ’90’. When I spotted this framed picture in the studio in Miami where we were shooting for PEOPLE I had to snap a pic, because it made me feel like hot stuff. *I* was being photographed in the same space where Cindy Effing Crawford once posed. I couldn’t wait to tell my friends.

Hanging on the wall on location in Miami.

Hanging on the wall on location in Miami.

Because I’m a bit of a pop culture junkie, I’ve known (kind of peripherally) that Cindy is also somebody’s wife & somebody’s mother. I’ve seen pictures of her with her handsome husband. I remember her posing while pregnant. I know she’s not in her early twenties anymore.

But none of theses bits of celebrity trivia ever really registered with me on a human level.

Until this week.

This week – this hit the scene:

True Beauty.

True Beauty.

Cindy Crawford is a human being. She has borne children. She is not bionic.

When I first saw this picture, it was presented in a context that said “Cindy Crawford has chosen to take a stand – to show us that even the most beautiful women in the world are human.” Since then the stories have gotten a bit muddled and it’s no longer clear whether or not she is happy to have this out there, but I HOPE SHE IS!

If she owns this, if she shares this, if she takes this Teachable Moment and stomps it out with her fierce signature strut, she will be my newest hero. She will be armed to the teeth with biblical beauty and unstoppable truth. She can lead the charge against Cultural Toxicity and I will enlist in her army.

Because in our culture, PERFECT is the enemy of TRUE.

Comparing ourselves with people we perceive as somehow ‘better’ is painful. Aspiring to (and desperately chasing!) unblemished perfection is very, very painful. It can feel like personal failure when we’re doing our best, working as hard as we possibly can, and we still can’t look like *we think* supermodels do.

Please, dear friend, dear reader – hear me: You are not failing any more than an honest-to-goodness supermodel!

Cindy Crawford is no less beautiful today than she was a month ago, but now she has single-handedly given untold thousands of women unspoken permission to catch their breath.

Even Cindy Crawford ages. Even Cindy Crawford’s Body After Baby is different than Body Before Baby. And if her reality is not color-corrected, not ‘I Woke Up Like This’ Full Supermodel Glam, then maybe we can all ease up and love ourselves a little bit more. Maybe we can be a bit more gentle when we stare in the mirror.

The next seismic reality drop of the week was ‘I Woke Up Like This’ herself. The great and powerful Queen Bey. And, just like Ms. Crawford – our Queen is also a flesh-and-blood human woman.

True Beauty.

True Beauty.

She is not color-corrected in real life. But she is *so* beautiful. She is stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks beautiful. High-resolution photographs that reveal her humanity do not take away from her beauty. But it does pull back the veil.

She is a carbon-based organism, just like you are. Just like her fellow pop diva, Iggy Azalea.

I was drafting this post when my husband asked if I’d heard about the pictures of Iggy. I hadn’t, but a quick Google search provided images of the third un-airbrushed beauty of the week.

When this picture dropped, the online body-shaming of Ms. Azalea was so intense it drove her off of social media. Her humanity subjected her to scorn, and it absolutely breaks my heart. Unfortunately, it sounds like it broke her heart, too. Her tweets as she shut down her social media accounts revealed her suffering.

True Beauty.

True Beauty.

How painful it must be to be expected to look like a walking painting at all times.

None of us are perfect. Not you, and certainly not me. I have wrinkles. I have cellulite. I have stretch marks. When I saw the high-res picture of myself that PEOPLE selected for their cover, my eyes went straight to my tiger stripes.

I confess – I had secretly hoped they would ‘color-correct’ them out. I wanted the editors to make me look more like an art project and less like my true self. But they didn’t. And as a result, I wrote one of my proudest chapters: the one in which I quickly accepted my greatest source of image-anxiety being on full display.

I earned my stripes when I had my children. They are a part of me, and they’re going to stay that way. So go ahead and look – I’m not ashamed.

Tiger Stripes

Don’t worry – Happy Exhaustion is in no danger of putting herself on a Cindy/Beyonce/Iggy level. But what I need to put out there is this: Less-than-airbrushed qualities are not failures. They do not represent an unwillingness to work hard enough, to hire the right person, or to buy the right product.

We look like this because we are humans.

Cindy Crawford is a beautiful star in our shared universe, but even she can’t stop the aging process. Even Beyonce has human hormones that affect her skin. Even Iggy has cellulite on the bootie lots of women would sell a kidney for. And even the girl whose bikini body was on the cover of PEOPLE Magazine has tiger stripes.

If you’re old enough that your skin is starting to sag and it makes you feel ashamed, I hope you’ll pivot and be grateful for the wisdom of your years. If you have pimples, cellulite, or stretch marks, consider what the body underneath your skin is capable of. Mine grew two little humans. Mine got healthy & strong while shedding 20 dress sizes.

My reality is not air-brushed. I am no one’s walking art project. Neither are Cindy, Beyonce or Iggy. But we’re all – ALL of us – perfectly beautiful.

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