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Speaking of Beauty

September 03, 2000|VIRGINIA GILBERT

Ask any half dozen women in Southern California how much time and energy they devote to their appearance and you'll hear six very different answers. For a professional manicurist who would like to lose 125 pounds, all it takes to feel pretty is a pedicure and polish. For a TV executive who shed 170 pounds several years ago, pit stops along the road to beauty have included several plastic surgeries and a rigorous exercise regime with four personal trainers.

Other women prefer to tweak traditional definitions of beauty by playing against type. A 74-year-old artist dyes her hair lavender to counteract the "grayness and the fading" that come with age. Last year a Japanese American musician bleached her long black tresses just to see how others would react to an Asian woman with blond hair.

A 26-year-old actress who was voted "Most Beautiful" in high school says she feels her best after yoga class, when her hair is a mess and she isn't wearing makeup. A 20-year-old who graduated with honors from Hollywood High School after arriving from Guatemala with no English four years ago thinks her appeal comes from having confidence and a direction in life.

While each of these women takes delight in looking her best, the message is clear: Beauty means more than wearing the latest lip color. It's about self-acceptance and creative expression. The tools you use are up to you.

"I grew up with my grandmother and she taught me that there's no one ugly. Beauty comes from inside for me. If I'm pretty happy, I feel that I'm beautiful."

[Guatemalan-born Yami Perez, 20, wants to be a teacher and a photographer.]


"Feeling comfortable in your own skin is the definition of beauty to me. That's why I've been doing so much reconstructive get that feeling.

I'm [now] making up for 20 years of never shopping. The clothes that I have do

something they never did before--they emphasize my body."

[Kathy Ann Stumpe, 44, of Brentwood is executive producer of CBS' "Everybody Loves Raymond."]


"There's a freshness about youth...and it's sort of pitiful when you see older women trying to grab on to that instead of holding on to the grace that comes with fading beauty."

[Mixed-media artist Betye Saar is a 74-year-old grandmother who lives in Los Angeles.]


"I've done a lot of work on myself emotionally and I'd like to drop a few pounds, but do I think of myself as beautiful? Yes, absolutely...I don't think it's my appearance that I like so much, it's who I am. I'm a nice person, I'm a friendly person, I'm a funny person. "

[Marla Fisher, 43, a manicurist, lives with her partner, Anglia, in Simi Valley.]


"The first time I went to Japan I started buying Japanese Playboys...They were not women you'd see in American Playboy, they looked like me. Flat chested, small hips, kind of short legs. I said to myself this is acceptable female beauty. I was able to accept myself."

[Dale Hikawa, 48, lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children and is the associate principal viola with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.]


"Two years ago I would have had a huge list of 30 things to change--shave the bump

off my nose, lose 10 pounds--because I wasn't feeling connected to that inner beauty.

But my son brought a heightened awareness about life, about being in the present."

[Kathryn Kovarik McMillan, 26, is an actress, yoga instructor and single mother from Beverly Hills.]

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