Attractiveness is about so much more than outer looks.
Do you worry about how to discuss beauty with your daughters? This is now such a "loaded" topic.
Why isn't, as the song suggests, "everyone beautiful ... in their own way!?" Why is this topic so difficult?!
My best guess is that we allow someone else (read: the media) to define beauty. So, how about RE-defining it? Creating a new definition that maintains every young woman's self esteem? A well-defined paragon of beauty and attraction will provide young women a practical application of "increasing attractiveness!"
One eye-opening observation is that we like to characterize young women's self esteem always in terms of "low self esteem," and this is part of the problem. After all, that is the basic science of focus, right? If you dislike something, stop talking about what you don't like, and start talking about what you want.
In the case of self esteem, let's stop talking about the "fragile" self esteem of women, and begin talking about what makes people attractive.
In this philosophy, five attributes create your attractive energy: trust, respect, passion, kindness, and resourcefulness. Physical beauty can't serve as a quality of attraction, but might lead to respect — a true attractive quality.
Let's look at each of these five element attributes for a positive (and practical) redefining of attraction for ourselves and our daughters.
1. "Trust" is the energy of water. Even if you're unfamiliar with the five elements philosophy ... you know water. Water is flexible and transformable to its environment, yet consistent and persistent toward its goal. Trusting the flow of your life leads to a confidence and certainty that is quite attractive.
In a culture of learning what is right, trust is learning what is right NOW. Whether it feels good or bad, right now is right here to provide guidance. Make yourself present to what presents itself, and look for the value or direction in its presence.
2. "Respect" is the energy of wood. Wood pushes through the earth, reaching for the sun, and stands in harmony with all sprouting elements — elements which not only live in peace, but depend on each other for life. Wood symbolizes the attribute of structure, including the walls of our buildings and the choices we make. When you live life with strength, structure, acceptance, and interdependence, you gain respect, which is naturally attractive.
We tend to sort for differences, which is completely normal! However, if you train your mind to, instead, sort for similarities, then you gain respect. In the interview for The Art of Happiness, the Dalai Lama explains that he feels connected to all humans with a simple sorting ... "we are all trying to end our suffering." In the strength of his own suffering, and connection to all others' suffering, he has attained a great deal of respect, and quite notable attraction.
3. "Passion" is the energy of fire. Fire is hot like our passions, which burn as desire. It includes the desire to contribute to a greater purpose. When we allow heart passion to grow, it creates value. When you live with value and passion, people are naturally attracted to your excitement and enthusiasm.
Passion is an easy one, just get the heck out the way! The aforementioned article referenced notes that, pre-adolescent girls have very strong opinions and voices — they know what they want and desire. Allow that expression and it will naturally transform into contribution. Don't worry about a job! If you provide space and encouragement, they will transform their passion into vocation.
4. "Kindness" is the energy of earth. Earth is our mother and nurturer — our home and provider. The earth element symbolizes the time of harvest, when we reap the rewards of mutual care and consideration. When you live life with care and consideration, people are naturally attracted to your kindness.
Kindness in this perspective means empathy and empowerment. Instead of trying to fix or please, you step into their suffering … empathy … and empower them to solve their problems. Imagine, if you stand together with a person through their suffering, how attractive you become.
5. "Resourcefulness" is the energy of metal. Metal is the richness of the soil, the minerals, and, of course, precious metals. If you live life by gathering the richness of the "dirt" we all encounter, people will be naturally attracted to your wisdom and resourcefulness.
Being present to your results and open minded to all possibilities is what creates and develops this attribute. As soon as you decide you're "right" about something, you delete possibilities, including the one where you don't get the result you desire.
We teach our kids presence to their results and possibilities with simple questions ... How did that work out? How did you like that? Why do you think that happened? What could you do differently?
If they embrace these questions, they will certainly find wisdom and resourcefulness, which develops a deep and profound attractiveness.
While being preoccupied with self esteem might be part of the problem, the problem is real. It's consistently evident that a focus on meeting our cultural ideals for beauty contributes to lower self confidence within women.
Redefining what constitutes beauty and attractiveness through consistent messaging and demonstration, will provide a practical structure for all women to find success and truly feel attractive.