On Beauty: An Holistic Approach

This blog post is about beauty- you know, the real stuff, the kind of beauty that comes from the inside-out and wears itself on the heart, as well as on the outside (in a smile, in the eyes, on skin)…

For the last five years of his life, my father was very ill, slowly suffocating and dying from pneumoconiosis, also known as Black Lung Disease, a disease caused from long exposure to coal dust from the years he worked as a coal miner long before I was born.  Not much beauty in this picture, you would think, but my father was so beautiful (yes, this word can be applied to men!), especially during those last years!  My father could light up a room with his smile.

When my father’s discomfort was at its worst, my clever mother would ask me to play his favorite movie from 1960, It Started in Naples, starring Clark Gable and Sophia Loren.  Sometimes I would fast forward the film to the part when Sophia sings, “Tu Vou’ Fa L’Americano” (You want to be American!),  in English with her Napolitano accent!  My dad’s pain would instantly diminish as he watched Sophia do her magic on stage.  Soon he’d be grinning and asking me to REWIND the film so he could see the scene one more time!

Video clip of Sophia singing Tu Vou’ Fa L’Americano from It Started in Naples.

Oh my, with her impossibly tiny waist and exotic features, Sophia danced and acted her way into many hearts.

Sophia danced and acted her way into many hearts.

The idea for this topic on beauty came to me last September as I led a yoga retreat in Umbria, Italy.  It seemed to me all the women on the retreat were beautiful.  All of them possessed a beauty that came from the inside and wore itself perfectly on the outside.

I firmly believe that practicing YOGA is one of the biggest beauty secrets any woman or man can ever embrace.  The practice embraces a peaceful way of being and cultivates an inner happiness that shows on the skin, eyes, and face.  Wrinkles caused by smiles are much more attractive than wrinkles caused by frowns or from worry.  YOGA promotes healthy eating habits, including embracing a wholesome diet of fresh organic vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and legumes.  The yoga practice keeps the physical body toned and flexible, in an upright posture with a youthful spine, and it helps keep disease at bay.  YOGA keeps the lymphatic system moving and creates healthy blood circulation and a stronger immune system.  The yoga practice detoxifies and tones the vital organs so they function optimally.  Yoga clears the mind, rendering it sharp, positive, calm, and open to learning new ideas.  And the yoga practice frees the spirit, so the yoga practitioner sees that most any dream is possible to attain.  In addition to Yoga being the Fountain of Youth, I believe it is the Fountain of Beauty.

Of course, I had to interview the women at the retreat to ask them about their Beauty Secrets.  Their responses below are interspersed with photos of beautiful movie stars from the Italian cinema of the 60s:

Karen:

Save your “sexy” because you are only given so much! What do I mean by that?  Don’t waste time always pulling yourself together. If you want to look your best, save it for a special occasion.  If you never do anything special, use your “sexy” now.  You are the SUBJECT, not the stuff you put on yourself.  Know your own mojo and just CARRY IT. That’s what’s sexy. That’s what lasts.

Claudia Cardinale knew her own mojo.

Claudia Cardinale knew her own mojo.

Charlie who is a hair and make-up design artist has two simple pieces of advice:

Always moisturize and Keep Your Chin Up!

Sophia was born Sofia Scicolone before changing her name to Sophia Loren.  I doubt she ever had to concern herself with saving her “sexy”.

Sophia was born Sofia Scicolone before changing her name to Sophia Loren. I doubt she ever had to concern herself with saving her “sexy”.

Patty:

Drink a ton of water.  Exercise!  Go outdoors. Moisturize. Have a day to just let go.  When I garden, I put on a hat, I dig in the dirt, and I feel sexy because I am passionate about what I am doing! I dress one way for work, another for biking, and another for going out on a date.

Charming smile of Claudia Cardinale

Charming smile of Claudia Cardinale

Lindsey:

My mom always told me that beauty is JOY, so if you do what brings you joy, you will always be beautiful! I always remember what Coco Chanel said: “When you think you are ready to leave the house, take off one accessory.” Less is more.

Isabella Rossellini: a face of pure joy!

Isabella Rossellini: a face of pure joy!

Laurie:

A woman can never have too much jewelry!  Don’t be afraid to wear it.  Don’t save it or wait for a special occasion. Wear it all the time.  Don’t wait for a special occasion to drink champagne.  And here is my number one beauty secret: Always wear sunscreen on your face!!  My mom always used to say to never go out with at least lipstick on.  And remember…sun or  champagne…too much of a good thing is bad.

Isabella Rosselini trying to enjoy a glass of champagne.

Isabella Rosselini trying to enjoy a glass of champagne.

Nora:

When you have love in your life, you feel beautiful.  Having a smile on your face is your best accessory.  Doing yoga makes you feel beautiful inside and out.  Drink lots of water and take in good nutrition. Eat lots of vegetables and fruits.  Move your body.

Gina Lollobrigida in a shoulderstand!

Gina Lollobrigida in a semi-supported half shoulderstand!

Julie:

Get your dose of vitamin D.  I used to wear heavy make up, but now I only wear make up on rare occasions.  Instead, I now let my personality shine through!

Giulitetta MasinaL perhaps one of the sweetest faces in Italian cinema

Giulietta Masina: perhaps one of the sweetest faces in Italian cinema

Marilyn:

If I had to do it all over again, I would never ever sit in the sun!

Ok, so Anita Eckberg is not Italian, but her stunning beauty prompted Fellini to cast her in La Dolce Vita.

Ok, so Anita Eckberg is not Italian, but her stunning beauty prompted Fellini to cast her in La Dolce Vita.

Anise:

Live a stress-free life. Sunscreen is the number one beauty secret.  Physical maintenance is a life style!  Keep in touch with the people in your life whom you love and tell them how much they mean to you because it makes you a happier person.  Laughter makes you beautiful.

Ursula:

Be in nature as often as you can! Cultivate your friendships.  Moisturize three times a day.  Use Evian spray on your face and be optimistic.

Gina Lollobrigida

Gina Lollobrigida

Laila:

You have to go into yourself and find out what makes you happy and try to have as much fun as you can in life.  This approach gives you a very positive outlook in life.  Be nice to other people and everything will shine out.  If it makes you happy to have plastic surgery…do it.  Be brave in life!  It’s very simple. Just do what you like and you will build up good energy and this is the key to beauty:  happiness!  Moisturizer helps on the outside.  Do things that give you confidence.  Beauty comes from the inside.

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5 Responses to “On Beauty: An Holistic Approach”

  1. Rick Says:

    That piece has a nice multi-dimensionality to it!

    Rick

    Like

  2. Tom Murphy Says:

    OMG! All my favorite beauties Italiana! Sophia is queen…so is Giulietta (ever seen “La Strada”, or “The Nights of Cabiria” (you’ll have a huge smile on your face throughout). And Gina? WOW! Claudia and Isabella ain’t too bad, either…but no one has the attractive face and soul of Fran…I hope to hear from you soon…

    Namaste,
    Tom Murphy

    Like

    • frangallo Says:

      Hi Tom! I love your enthusiasm! Of course, I have seen all of the movies you mention above. I, too, am a lover of Italian movie cinema, especially the older classic films. Thank you for your comment. Namaste, Fran

      Like

  3. Nora Brown Says:

    Thanks Fran for this beautiful post. So often I see dad’s beautiful smile especially when I ‘m watching an Italian film which I always enjoyed sharing with him.
    On the topic of beauty, I remember so well the day we were all enjoying the beautiful sunshine by the pool last Septmber in Umbria. Those of us that experienced that yoga retreat with you are so blessed to have seen and felt so much beauty! The land, the people, the yoga, the food and most of all all the beautiful hearts that came together for that week. I will never forget the joy and peace I felt while I was there. Love you! Nora

    Like

    • frangallo Says:

      Thanks, Nora! I will never forget that day either! It was so very special having you there and you are right…the group gathered was so special. For one week, we all shared yoga and meals together and were so very connected. Ah, dad’s smile. It is forever fixed in my mind. Dad was pure love. How lucky we were to be loved and adored by him!

      Like

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