The lesson about femininity Hollywood would hate you to learn

I’m a passionate lover of movies.  I love the way a good film can inspire me, show me the world, explore relationships and emotions and entertain me.  My ideal flick is a good drama with a realistic and earthy storyline (like Once or Begin Again), a good old-fashioned romance (The Notebook or Strictly Ballroom) or otherwise something fun and colourful (I’m thinking Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.)

I also know that over the course of my life Hollywood, the TV industry and women’s magazines have taught me a whole heap of lessons about being a woman.  Or more specifically, what a woman looks like.  The world of Hollywood lives and breathes in the very fact that women are beautiful.  They are beautiful to look at, they wear beautiful clothes and they have beautiful bodies.  

The only problem with Hollywood’s presentation of the beauty of women is that it’s not really presenting all women, is it?  You see, the last time I checked, exactly none of my friends and family have ever been selected to star in a Hollywood movie, made it big on TV or posed as a model and appeared in women’s magazines.

If our definition of beauty is based upon what we see on screen, then it is a definition that actually only includes a small minority of women who would make the cut in the gruelling process of casting calls and auditions.

Someone who was a passionate supporter of women was the late Pope, and now saint, John Paul II.  He wrote enthusiastically about all the reasons why women are truly beautiful.  His writings show that all women possess an inherent beauty that is universal and cannot be added to, nor taken away.  His thoughts are often summarised as saying that women’s beauty comes from the following four qualities:

Receptivity – It sounds like a big word, but it really just means openness.  An openness to receiving the gift of life, but also an openness to relationships and being with others.

Sensitivity – While sometimes perceived as and experienced as a weakness, the sensitivity of women is a beautiful thing.  It shows through when there is injustice and pain in our world, and is manifested in a beautiful nurturance and care for our world and those around us.

Generosity – You need only to look around you to see what big givers women are.  There is something truly beautiful about a woman’s ability to see the needs of those around her and do something about it.  While motherhood is a beautiful example of women’s generosity, it is simply our capacity to conceive life that gives each woman an inherent generosity.

Maternity – Whether we are mothers or not, a woman’s capacity for maternity means that she has everything she needs within her to be able to care for a little life.  This capacity often extends to women having a maternal and motherly heart in so many ways in our world, even if she never will be a mother.

Saint Pope John Paul II’s ultimate lesson is that all women are beautiful!  While Hollywood would largely argue that beauty is solely about external qualities, and there is a large cohort of advertisers to reinforce this lesson, ultimately we can see that the true beauty of a woman lies in her inner qualities, including openness, care, love and nurture.

Berna has spent the past 8 years working with young people in schools, parishes and youth ministry around Australia.  She’s studied media, marketing, theology and teaching at uni.  Berna loves travelling, movies, dinner parties and reading in the sun but her main passion in life is sharing the gift of faith with others, and especially young people.  She’s originally from Adelaide, but currently lives in Melbourne in her fourth year as an MGL Sister. 

Berna has spent the past 8 years working with young people in schools, parishes and youth ministry around Australia.  She’s studied media, marketing, theology and teaching at uni.  Berna loves travelling, movies, dinner parties and reading in the sun but her main passion in life is sharing the gift of faith with others, and especially young people.  She’s originally from Adelaide, but currently lives in Melbourne in her fourth year as an MGL Sister.