The True Universal Standard of Beauty

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” ― Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso began his formal art training in 1888 at age seven. He continually refined and developed his art, experimenting with new styles and mediums every few years. He created over 50,000 drawings, paintings, engravings, sculptures and ceramics before his death at 91.

Maurice de Sully, Bishop of Paris, commissioned the Notre Dame cathedral in 1160. The masterpiece took 185 years to build. Its most recent renovation took over twenty years, beginning in 1991 and ending some time after 2010.

Thomas Keller began his culinary career in 1974. He worked at 20 restaurants, including several Michelin-starred houses, before opening his first restaurant in 1986. He wasn’t awarded his first Michelin Guide three star rating until 2006.

In every realm of creation, great works of beauty require love, patience and commitment to excellence.

Yet perhaps due to our own sensitivity, we fail as a society to draw the obvious analogy: to be beautiful demands the same.

Instead, we tell ourselves myths about beauty. These come in at least three varieties.

The first myth we tell is that only inner beauty matters.

Don’t get me wrong: inner beauty is important. But we use it as a cop-out.

The most basic evolutionary psychology dictates that we are attracted to the best mates, and how we look is an immediate and powerful signal for how feel about, care for and cultivate ourselves.

The second myth is that some people are just lucky.

In this line of thinking, beauty is a lottery won by the young and busty. This view diminishes the very concept of beauty to something random, as though Picasso’s 80 years of unrelenting work were mere chance.

And the third myth is that there’s a quick-fix magic formula beauty hack.

The problem with this view is that quick fixes are only skin deep.

True beauty – the kind that results from years of treating your body with care and reverence – permeates every layer of your being, bringing about genuine confidence and self-love.

See, when it comes to beauty, standards do matter.

Not the superficial standards of the love-me-as-I-am or the nip-tuck variety.

Rather, standards of the purest form: That there’s a better, higher form of all creations including you.

To become that person, we have to relinquish the familiar shortcuts and excuses. Instead we have to commit ourselves to the long, slow path of doing tiny things right every day.



1. Wikipedia entry for Pablo Picasso.

2. Wikipedia entry for Notre Dame de Paris.

3. Website for Thomas Keller.


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Tara Book CoverHi, I’m Tara
Padua, founder of NextFem. I help high-powered women master their relationships.

As a professional executive coach since 2003, I’ve accrued more than 7,000 client-coaching hours working with 400+ female leaders at organizations like Condé Nast, Cartier, Deutsche Bank, Diesel, Louis Vuitton, Siemens and many, many more.

Healthy relationships are the foundation of a life that works, and my life experiences have fueled my mission to help women get the love they deserve.


  • joie

    Reply Reply August 24, 2015

    Fascinating and bold perspective. Thank you!

    • Tara Padua

      Reply Reply August 25, 2015

      Hey Joie!!! Thanks so much!! I think it is an important conversation. xxtara

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