Grace, Sophia, and Jackie- A Crash Course in LA BELLA FIGURA
April 2, 2015
Being an American abroad, it is far too easy standing out in a crowd of Europeans. If you have been around the world a time or two, you know what I am talking about. Americans are notorious for white tennis shoes, ill-fitting light wash jeans, and a profound lack of apathy towards la bella figura.
Say it with me: LA BELLA FIGURA.
This Italian saying which means putting your best self forward and yes, actually caring about how the world perceives our physical beauty along with our persona. This is what makes Europeans, especially Italians, so endearing. I am on the quest to bring this mindset State side.
But get this, you too can possess una bella figura. It took me a few trips across the pond to figure out how to do this correctly and no, there isn't one textbook definition or instruction manual on how to do this. But there are some loosely regulated tips for possessing this famous Italian state of mind.
First and foremost, let's talk European style. I will say this again, and again, and again: Grace Kelly, Jackie O, and Sophia Loren are the only three people I will ever refer to when searching for European style inspiration. They have la bella figura down to a tee. Tailored tops and feminine dresses via Grace Kelly, head scarves and over-sized sunglasses a la Jackie, and embrace your body like Sophia. Not into their style? Find somebody like Amal Clooney or Kate Middleton to give you a little inspiration.
Bel viso e capelli non ha bisogno di trucco! Translation: a beautiful face and hair need no making up! And yes, that means everybody. You don't need a heaping amount of foundation and a portable flat iron to feel beautiful. Embrace yourself.
Grace, Jackie, and Sophia all looked fresh faced and fabulous. So why on earth can you not step outside without a painted face?
For the last time, you are not Katy Perry. Black caterpillar-like falsies and hot pink lips are not an everyday real life necessity. Never have been, never will be. European women, for the most part, embrace their natural beauty. A CC cream and a swipe of natural gloss will do you in just fine.
Enjoy the hair you were born with! Ringlets? Perfect. Waves? Awesome. Pin straight and flat as a board? Beautiful. If anything, add a little of your favorite product and get on with your day! You are traveling for goodness sake. You should not have the time to fuss over your hair. Braid it, pin it, throw it up in a bun and go on your way.
Eat the pizza. Seriously, just do it. "Everything you see, I owe to pasta," said international Italian style icon Sophia Loren who was a dress size 10 at the peak of her career. Don't you dare say you can't have that pizza or the second cone of gelato. La bella figura doesn't mean starving yourself and having a salad (most Europeans don't know a good salad unless its caprese, which is basically cheese and olive oil with a side of tomato) while your friends have the world's greatest gnocchi so you can maintain a decent figure.
NEWS FLASH, nobody is going to notice you have gained a few pounds when you are gallivanting around Europe. Honestly, who even cares?
Liz from Eat, Pray, Love said it best: "I’m so tired of saying no and waking up in the morning and recalling every single thing I ate the day before. Counting every calorie I consumed so I know exactly how much self-loathing to take into the shower. I’m going for it. I have no interest in being obese; I’m just through with the guilt. So this is what I’m going to do, I’m going to finish this pizza and then we’re going to go watch the soccer game and tomorrow we’re going to go on a little date and buy ourselves some bigger jeans."
La Bella Figura is not about sticking to the book, changing who you are, or missing opportunities. It is letting your best self shine through, embracing you for you, and saying "yes" to all things positive coming your way. It is about your personal definition of grace and style, about letting your beautiful heart and mind shine through you. And of course saying yes to carbs.