When asked what raw beauty is, I always respond that raw beauty is about each individual woman nourishing a form of beauty that can never be taken away from her, a beauty that empowers her.
If we all honor and respect our individual beauty, then we can honor and respect the beauty and humanness of others.
Of the seven raw beauty principles, principle number five is on elevating relationships and communities -- surround yourself with women who raise you higher and support you to create the life you want to live. And be this person for others.
I can put my hand on my heart and say many moons ago that I loved gossip. I would be right there in the thick of it. It made me feel safe because I fitted in and everyone was doing it. Part of me knew it was not okay on one level, we are all told at school that talking about other people is not nice, but it was exciting to pick apart someone's behaviour and life as if myself and my friends knew better. It was exciting to be part of a heightened drama.
Looking back I realised that in investing so much time in discussing what I thought was wrong with someone else's life I did not have to focus on what was missing from mine.
It was when I cottoned on to the fact that the women I was gossiping with would also be gossiping about me when my back was turned that I knew I was not safe or respected. I did not want to feel that way and I did not want any other woman to either.
I started to feel "off" whenever I said anything to put another woman down or had been listening to a conversation that was full of nasty gossip.
When it felt wrong I knew I had to make some decisions about who I wanted to be. But the hard part was then taking the actions to shift this part of myself. I felt quite lonely for a while, not being involved in many conversations, but I felt better in myself and about myself.
One of my phrases became and still is "I do not feel comfortable being part of this conversation." If I need to I will physically remove myself. Not always easy, but always worth it.
What I know is that I have no idea what is going on for another woman unless she tells me. That for me to have nasty and judgemental conversations about another woman not only puts her down, it puts me down, too.
We all have the ability to be judgmental, but our ability to drop that judgement as soon as it appears is where our compassion lives. Whoever we are, we are on the same journey. We thrive, we fall down, we hurt, we try, we make big mistakes and we dream.
The more we can walk the journey together as women, the stronger our individual and collective beauty becomes. I am no saint. I occasionally find myself listening a bit too long, but I can pull myself out much quicker.
I invite you to listen today. Are you surrounded by women who raise each other higher, and are you this woman for others?