I recently joined a club in San Francisco called The Battery. One evening, the new General Manager, Megan, hopped up to give a short speech.
The best moment in her meet-and-greet intro was when she said, “I’m not eye candy; I’m soul food.”
I laughed out loud—one of my deep belly laughs—at that and really took it in, thinking this quote should be on t-shirts. (Later on, she admitted seeing it somewhere, probably on Pinterest!)
Though middle-aged, Megan is still quite beautiful—but that’s not the point. The greater meaning is that there is so much more to women of all ages than meets the eye. The surface of our outer presentation says very little about the layers underneath.
We have long been trained to focus on outer beauty. The truth is, this goes way back to Eve seducing Adam with the apple. But we are beyond this now. We can claim that we are more than our looks.
What is beautiful truly does shine out from the inside of every woman. We see through the lens of history that the standard of outer beauty is fleeting; it changes with the times. For example, the ancient fertility goddess, all round with huge breasts, was once considered beautiful, her body honoring the curves of many healthy women. But then fast-forward history, and we find “Twiggy” in the seventies, a rail-thin feather who’s perhaps not so healthy, mirroring the unreasonable measurements of Barbie. No matter your moment in history, it’s so important to remember that the iconic women of the day are simply reflecting the beauty standard of the time.
I’ve loved, in more recent years, how Cindy Crawford, Brooke Shields, and Christy Brinkley have shown us that athletic and fit is in. They’re among a movement of women telling the world that female strength is sexy. Their challenge is immense, though—and it’s our challenge too, as everyday women striving to be leaders and role models. Technology makes the lies about body image all the louder. We are now bombarded with false, filtered images that create aspirational standards of beauty that aren’t even authentic or attainable. It makes real harder and harder to discern.
Eye candy is surface-level and short-lived. Soul food is the good stuff.
Soul food is made up of amazing conversation and connection that comes from being vulnerable and open and real. It’s about depth and empathy, resilience and grace. This is what I love most about being on retreat with women. We don’t fussy up too much; rather, we laugh and cry to the point of raw beauty. What is real is beautiful, and that comes from surrendering our ego and sinking into our true nature—that part of you that is you waiting to be seen. That part of you that is soul food.
Soul food speaks to the reality of aging beautifully in our wisdom, humor, and strength—even though appearance changes. (By the way, I think this would be a great add-on to dating profiles: “I’m not eye candy. I’m soul food.”)
A truly beautiful woman at any age realizes that change is imminent, but there is a peace and light that lasts. It’s this illuminant presence that points to the perfection of our radiance, which comes from our eyes: the windows of our soul. Look anyone in the eyes, and you will see yourself peering back at you. It is the essence of love that unites humanity.
Yes, I rather like the idea that I am a woman of soul, that offers a good helping of nourishing inspiration, friendship, and wisdom that is beautiful beyond measure. No matter what your age, you don’t have to settle for being “eye candy” alone. There is far more to who you are. In your eyes is the real sweetness of your soul.