On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Wednesday 8th March, we’ll talk about Stoicism and beauty. Join us to hear from a panel of leading women Stoics: Sharon Lebell, Jennifer Baker, Brittany Polat, Meredith Kunz, Sukhraj Gill and Kathryn Koromilas.
In the age of the Instagram Selfie, isn’t it true that many of us focus, often as a priority, on our physical beauty so that we might attract a lover, a life partner, or even a reputation, a career, or a social media following?
But what if our real beauty is (and always was) found in the beauty of our mind and our reason, our character, our behaviour, our care for others?
How might we as women help each other (but also help our partners, friends, and children of all genders) become aware that we (and they) are valued for moral beauty above all else?
We’ll explore what the Stoics might teach us about valuing our own internal, moral beauty, and also what they say about physical beauty. How might we do this? What are the challenges today?
Here are two quotes to ponder:
If we could examine the mind of a good woman, O what a beautiful, what a sacred sight we would see! What grandeur, what calm would shine forth in it, and what constellations of the virtues: justice on one side, courage on the other, moderation and prudence over there. Besides these, frugality, self-control, endurance, generosity, and cheerfulness would shed their light upon it … what grace, and, by god, what dignity would these bestow! How great its authority would be, and how much appreciated: beloved it would be, yet at the same time revered.
Seneca, Letters on Ethics, 115.3
As soon as they reach the age of fourteen, women are called ladies or mistresses of the house; they’ve grown up and gained some power. And now they see that there’s nothing more to gain except to become sexually attractive. So, they set to work to beautify themselves and place all their hopes in that. It is worth our while, then, to make them aware that they’re valued for nothing other than attaining self-control and self-respect.
Epictetus, Encheiridion, 40