The Price of Beauty (Part III)

It was off to Mumbai for Jessica Simpson and her crew on the Price of Beauty VH1 TV show to find the definition of beauty in India. Their beauty ambassador for the episode was a former Miss India and Bollywood star. The first stop was Bollywood, the film industry in India, which is considered the epitome of glamour, beauty and fashion. It is easy to see the allure in the elaborate costumes, exotic dancing and bold colors. Why did they stop there? Bollywood, according to the show, is considered the runway of fashion and beauty. Like Americans, we turn to movies and media to obtain our definition of what is "currently" beautiful.

Interesting to think of how the definition of beauty evolves over time. Look at movies from the 1930s and 40s. Smoking, which was once considered glamorous is no longer so. There is even a push for it to be banned from cinema. The curvaceous, hourglass figure of Marilyn Monroe is no longer the body type we typically see in movies. Watch Saturday Night Fever and see your reaction to the fashions of the 1970s. Simply look to the movies to get a glimpse at what we consider beautiful, in a small capsule of time.

Then, it was off to try out a new form of yoga called, "laughing yoga." If you aren't familiar with laughing yoga it is worth checking out this video for a good chuckle. Essentially, you create artificial laughter until that laughter becomes real (think of canned laughter on a sitcom). Laughter is a great way to relieve stress (not to mention one of the tips in my new book about avoiding emotional eating, 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food). It exercises your muscles, creates a chemical response in your body and changes your breathing patterns. If you haven't tried it, it's worth giving it a try. You may feel a little silly at first, but you can't help but enjoy the smile it produces.

What is a universal beauty no matter what country you are in? Your smile. Jessica has been involved in Operation Smile for six years. Operation Smile is an organization that gives kids with cleft palates operations. In the matter of 45 minutes, a little girl's cleft palate was transformed. It was a surprise that it look so little time to dramatically change a life. The little girl they visited would no longer be someone who covered her face whenever she went out. According to the show, the rate of cleft palates is high in India, approximately one in five hundred.

It's a good reminder when you are obsessed about your weight, your thighs or other body parts that you might just be taking one your best beauty assets for granted.

They ended the show walking the red carpet in India not dressed in a Carolina Herrera or Monique Lhuillier gown but in the traditional henna and an elaborate, gorgeous beadwork sari.

Jessica's friend summed up their experience in India to be like entering a "jewel box." His perception was that beauty in India is not about vanity but a collection of your story, celebration of your life and where you come from. So true that beautiful people, in general, know who they are and integrate their history and culture into their life skillfully.

Looking forward to next week. They travel to a place where "fat is beautiful." Welcome to a tribe in Africa...

By Dr. Susan Albers, psychologist and author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, Eating Mindfully, Eat, Drink & Be Mindful and Mindful Eating 101.