When did you stop believing you were beautiful?
It’s a question that’s been milling through my mind a lot recently. One I’ve been asking myself and one I’d ask every woman I came across, if only we had the time for all the tears and the laughs and the healing. One I’m so afraid to unpack and delve into and… eventually… answer, because it’s probably a Pandora’s Box.
I mean, let’s face it, while there may be moments when we can’t help but appreciate the way our appearance, poise and personality blend together in some expression of our very best selves, being able to live with the firm belief that we truly are beautiful… always… the way well-loved girl children do, is a gift not many of us possess. Anymore. Just yet.
It’s a question that resurfaced recently while I was watching a video interview with the absolutely gorgeous and spunky punkrocker, Meredith Graves.
Forming part of The What’s Underneath Project, the video shows the pretty young woman wearing a cute outfit – one she’s obviously really comfortable in – sitting on bar stool against a wall.
As the interview progresses, the directors ask her to remove an item of clothing every second question or so, until she’s finally stripped down to nothing but her underwear.
That’s what it’s all about.
Throughout the discussion, she touches on a number of profound topics. Things like – being judged on appearance alone, not being taken seriously in her field because of the way she chooses to express her femininity, having a problem with her size and learning to come to terms with the amount of space she takes up in the world.
(Sound familiar? It sure did to me)
At one point she says: “I’ve grown up my whole life playing second fiddle to the pretty girl… and it took a really long time for me to realise that it’s okay to be who I am.”
While her words hit home and prodded poignantly at my own insecurities, it was my reaction to them that made me do a double take.
I didn’t believe her. Not for a second. How could a girl so pretty really feel that way? It was impossible!
Well, obviously not. Because there she was, saying those exact words. Without even a flicker of fishing-for-compliments-fakeness.
There I was doing the judging, deciding who gets to feel insecure and who doesn’t.
I continued watching and listening to Meredith exposing her soul and found myself nodding profusely throughout, especially when she answered the following question (which is quite possibly the pinnacle of the interview, for me at least):
When do you feel at your most beautiful?
“When I’m riding my bike. Always,” she says.
And continues, sharing a little anecdote: “I’m obsessed with flowers… anyway, so I stop with my bike by the side of the road and I hacked all these daisies… and I shoved them all in my backpack and I’m trying to ride in traffic. And I’ve got these daisies whacking me in the back of the head because of the way the wind is going and I realise…
That’s pretty much the only time I feel really, really beautiful is when my circumstances are so strange that they allow me to see myself as a small component of a much bigger world.”
While I’m definitely on this one with Meredith, I guess it’s different for all of us.
For me, I think, I feel at my most beautiful when I find myself immersed in a moment of transcendence. Like, when I get to turn my face to the sun after braving that first under-wave dive on a summer’s day and trail my fingers across the surface of the ocean while doing a little spin and watch the perfect sphere of splashes that follow. A habit of sensory pleasure I’ve carried with me since my earliest swims.
For you, it may be entirely different. It may be found mid-adrenaline rush or maybe in the brushes of a make-up kit. Perhaps it lies in the fierceness with which you fight your battles (and those of others) or possibly when you’re flitting between various selves on stage. There are as many scenarios as there are women.
And, while we’re always tempted to compare, the truth is… we simply cannot.
Because, comparison truly is the thief of joy.
And isn’t joy the ultimate beauty secret?
Joy and maybe finally finding a home in your own sultry skin.
Perhaps Sandra Cisneros said it best:
“I am obsessed with becoming a woman comfortable in her skin.”
Is it weird that I find this skull garden at Sanbona Game Reserve nearby Montagu so aesthetically pleasing? The mounted animal skulls, the flat Karoo earth and the crisp sky… they all just seem to work together.
Interestingly, it forms part of the Gondwana Lodge kiddies’ entertainment program, so there’s really nothing sinister about it… in case you were wondering.
What I said in the “What I’m reading right now” section
Babylon’s Ark is a spellbinding account of the super human effort to rescue desperate animals from disaster amid wide-spread chaos of a very human war. From the pen, heart and mind of Lawrence Anthony (the same man who wrote Elephant Whisperer) the book tells the story of Anthony’s spur of the moment decision to attend to the starving and suffering animals of the Baghdad Zoo shortly after the US invasion in 2003 and Saddam’s fall. Up against a string of almost impossible challenges such as looters, low food & medicine supplies, water shortages, no electricity, angry beasts and difficult humans, the South African, his team of two Kuwaitis and a number of local Iraqis show endearing, heart-rending, soul lifting determination to save lives of the forgotten and helpless. Totally intriguing! Loving every word, sentence and page so far.
Well, I finished it a couple of weeks ago and can safely say it was one of the most incredible, mind altering books I’ve ever read. Although the focus of the story was the incredible rescue of the Baghdad Zoo, it turned out to be more of a study about the way in which we treat our precious natural resources… and the terrible consequences.
Lawrence Anthony, who sadly and unexpectedly passed away during the time I was reading the book, was a story-teller extraordinaire with a heart for, not only animals and nature, but the sacredness of life in general.
Can’t wait to get my hands on his brand new, posthumously-published The Last Rhinos.
I recommend this to anyone who has felt a fluttering of compassion for any form of life, especially the vulnerable and voiceless. Also anyone who just enjoys a good, evocatively told story.
So, I haven’t really been taking many photos recently. I tend to go through phases, and seem to be in my uninspired photography phase at the moment. Not great, but as with all things in life, it won’t last forever.
Despite this, two places I visited recently managed to spark a sudden burst of artistic inspiration: the little Swartland it-town of Riebeek Kasteel and Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West.
There really isn’t that much more to say about Riebeek Kasteel than that it’s everything you would want a quaint little Swartland town to be: pretty, full of intriguing shops, awash with wine, populated by fascinating people.
Vergelegen, on the other hand, way surpassed my wine farm expectations. It is an absolutely fascinating gem in the backstreets of Somerset West. Okay, I guess not really the back streets, but it kind of felt that way driving there.
At 3000 plus hectares, it is a MASSIVE property with magnificent gardens containing everything from gigantic 300-year old camphor trees planted by Willem Adriaan van der Stel to a selection of proudly South African roses. There’s a picnic spot in a mini forest, an old manor house reconstructed and furnished in the style the Van der Stels would have subscribed to.
Also a cellar on the hill where one of the most hilarious and passionate winemakers around passes his days, classifying Sauvignon Blancs as “Dolly Parton wines – easy and with assets,” while Semillons “are more like the girl you want to take home and marry.” It is also here that you can sample cloudy young wines that still taste like sunshine, soil and rains.
Finally, the Stables restaurant opened up recently and is a definite must-visit for a lazy weekend breakfast or lunch. Their food is divine, their decor a minimalistic mix of rustic and modern… and they have a gigantic driftwood horse as a focal art piece.
While I’ve never been a HUGE wine farm fan – I mean they’re cool, just not my ultimate sort of venue, you know – I can’t wait to visit Vergelegen again. It truly is an awe-inspiring place with a particularly dynamic team, from the MD to the winemaker, to the heritage specialist and the horticulturalist.
It’s most definitely Gypsified-endorsed 🙂
So, the other night we found ourselves humming that legendary Paul Simon song, ‘You can call me Al.’ You know, that feel good song that clubs like Tin Roof (yes, I used to go there when I was young and impressionable) and Deco Dance always crank when the dance floor hits a bit of a lull. (Although I have to admit that I can’t imagine Deco Dance’s checkered floor ever hitting much of a lull!)
Anyway, we don’t know who started it, how it had slipped into the matrix and where the urge to hum it came from… but there we were – first one line, then another then a few more. Until we finally became so aware of it that we had no choice but to turn to Google who then kindly directed us to YouTube.
Little did we know what a glorious cheese fest awaited. A faded pink room, two men – one really tall and one really short – awkwardly sitting on two chairs facing the camera, static movements. But my description does it no justice. Just watch it below and enjoy. What also makes this song super awesome, is the ever so slight South African flavour complete with a penny whistle solo and township jazz-type dance.
Some interesting info about the video courtesy of Wikipedia:
Paul Simon did not like the original music video that was made, which was a performance of the song Simon gave during the monologue when he hosted Saturday Night Live in the perspective of a video monitor. A replacement video was conceived partly by Lorne Michaels and directed by Gary Weis, wherein Chevy Chase lip-synced all of Simon’s vocals in an upbeat presentation, with gestures punctuating the lyrics. Simon wore a bored expression throughout the piece, while also lugging instruments into view… The only time he sings was to provide the bass harmony on the phrases “If you’ll be my bodyguard” and “I can call you Betty” in the chorus.
During the bridge, and fade-out instrumental, Chase and Simon performed a rhythmic dance step in sync. Chase, at 6’4″, towered over the much shorter (5’3″) Simon.
Just so you know it was all free, fair and above board, here’s a little series of pics…
First I printed all the comments you lovely people left and cut them out.
Then I put them in a large jar I got from my granny
Then I shook them all about
Then I left them to settle overnight, and got Imar to draw a winner when I gave him a lift to work this morning. Thought it would be appropriate to get him involved, as he set up my blog, helps me with the design and other complicated stuff, sends my stats to me every month and, well, he’s pretty famous online 🙂
And so, the moment you have all been waiting for… DRUM ROLL, Please!
The winner is…
Yay! Congrats, Jen! Send me an email with your address and I’ll send your little package of joy!
Thanks to everyone who entered! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your enthusiasm… this will most definitely not be the last giveaway, so keep reading!
Gone are the days of baby grows and burping, bibs and bath time blues, because ladies and gentlemen, this baby is turning one!
Yes, that’s right, in a few days’ time Gypsified will be standing on her own two wobbly legs, all fluffy and pink in her prettiest party dress, blowing out a single candle on her proverbial cake (unless of course I make a real one), and we’d really, really, REALLY like to celebrate this momentous occasion by giving one lucky friend/reader/person from the vast realm of the internet a super cool prezzie from local jewellery brand, Scarlett Boulevard.
The present contains the following:
1x Hippy Feather hair clip
1x Bow brooch with anchor and ship’s wheel charms
1x Single earring with owl and key charm
1x Foxy ring
and 1x more surprise addition
All you have to do to enter is:
2. Comment on this post, telling me which of the goodies you like most and why.
If you want, you can share the giveaway with friends by clicking on the Facebook and Twitter icons at the top of the page…
And, last of all, thanks to each one who’s popped in here throughout the year. It’s been fun! 🙂
Oh, yes! Winner will be announced next Tuesday!
Don’t you just hate it when you confuse Leonard Cohen with Bob Dylan?
And, no, I don’t mean their music – that’s pretty much distinguishable to the practiced ear – I’m talking about their faces!
See what I mean? Gaaaaah!!!
And then, just to make matters worse… why don’t we throw a bit of Adam Sandler into the mix?
Here you go:
And then, seeing we’re on a roll, let’s just talk about their voices real quick: they all fall into that pretty weird, tortured artist, nasal category. (Not a bad thing at all – big fan of both Lenny and Bob, and mostly quite amused by Adam).
What kind of cloning witchery is this?!