About Woman In Disguise

Lee Woodward

Lee Woodward, Founder and CEO of Woman In Disguise. Photo by Linda Kazares.

I have a complicated relationship with beauty. It started when I was seven years old, I remember the day perfectly. I was standing in ballet class looking at my reflection in the mirror. I looked to my left and saw a beautiful thin little girl. I looked to the right of me and saw another beautiful thin little girl. What made these little girls so beautiful in my mind was less about their appearance and much more about their innocence and confidence. In that moment, I decided that I was not acceptable, but most of all I decided I was not beautiful. My young mind assessed my body in the reflection and decided it was wrong, that it had somehow betrayed me. That day started me on a battle with my body and my beauty for years.

In my twenties, I came to a level of self-acceptance in my life. I made a commitment to myself to care for my body and nourish it. I attained a certain level of inner peace for the first time since that day in ballet class. A big part of my peace plan was to be free from outside influences that could disrupt my new found peace. I decided that beauty, the desire to be beautiful, was an unhealthy external influence. Beauty was something outside of myself, it was about pleasing the eye of the beholder. I equated beauty with judgement. As women we get mixed messages about beauty. If we care too much about our appearance, we are vain, if we don’t care enough, we are lazy. As we age the messages only become harsher. It seems our only beauty goal over 50 is to look young or at least younger. It’s a cycle of forever seeking what we are not in order to be beautiful.

Pink Wig

It wasn’t until my forties that I recognized I had given up more than I realized in my quest for peace. It’s fair to say that I had my personal world view rocked. Even crazier was that it was rocked by putting on a pink wig at a friend’s party. As soon as I put that pink feathery ‘do on my head, I was transformed. I was magnetic, I felt exhilarated, and I did not walk around the party, I sashayed that night. That truly was a life changing experience for me. I spent days trying to figure out what was so powerful about that night. I couldn’t get away from wanting the feeling again. After much contemplation I realized the powerful feeling I experienced was beauty. That night, I felt unapologetically beautiful. BOOM…mind blown and life changed.

I spent years convincing myself that feeling beautiful was not important. But ladies, beauty is a powerful force that should not be denied. Beauty is why we watch sunsets, seek out rainbows and bask in the glow of a full moon. It is natural to want feel beautiful, to be beautiful, to be one with the force of beauty. I also believe that when we look in the mirror and don’t see our beauty, we diminish our power. We diminish our power to see ourselves and embrace our flaws as beautiful. It is powerful to see our wrinkles and appreciate all the laughs, tears and smiles that etched the lines into our delicate skin. It is powerful to see the stretch marks and recognize that we brought life into this world. It is powerful to see our true selves and not look away from the reflection.

It is an interesting journey learning to accept the gift and power of beauty. What I have learned so far is that beauty is something that I can’t define, but we I know it when I see it…and when I feel it! I have also learned that when it comes to my beauty, I am the beholder. Desiring beauty is not about vanity, it’s about seeking your divine. Through my work I have learned how amazing it feels to help a woman look in the mirror and love what she sees. I find the things that most often make us feel beautiful are tied to a memory or experience. I have learned that when I feel beautiful there is no room for shame, guilt or judgment, for myself or others. Most of all I have learned that we are all worthy of feeling beautiful. Aristotle had it right when he said, “Beauty is the gift of God.” Who are we to deny ourselves the gift?

I believe that every woman deserves to see her beauty. That’s what Woman In Disguise is about. It’s about giving ourselves permission to play, explore and create. It’s about rediscovering that we are beautiful.