When I am asked how I might think about beauty and wellness, I have two answers. The first is that it is a visceral feeling, or I know it when I see it. I experience a completely involuntary intake of breath when I encounter something or someone who’s beauty moves me, or at least my version of what beauty is. The second aspect of beauty is when I detect a sense of health and well-being. That could be a lush green plant, glowing skin, the vigor in one’s step, a sigh of contentment or I see someone who has taken care with what they choose to wear.

For me daily decisions about what I eat, how I exercise as well as the lifestyle choices I make (except when I become overwhelmed by having two full-time jobs), is dictated by my desire to achieve a  state of “wellness” or in a less trendy vernacular, good health, not by societal standards of beauty.

Wellness, simply defined is, “an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.”. It is further suggested by the National Wellness Institute, that there are six dimensions that explain

  1. How a person contributes to their environment and community, and how to build better living spaces and social networks
  2. The enrichment of life through work, and its interconnectedness to living and playing
  3. The development of belief systems, values, and creating a world-view
  4. The benefits of regular physical activity, healthy eating habits, strength and vitality as well as personal responsibility, self-care and when to seek medical attention
  5.  Self-esteem, self-control, and determination as a sense of direction
  6.  Creative and stimulating mental activities, and sharing your gifts with others

What is interesting to me is how often through the lens of fashion we have at one time or another addressed through my writing, and your subsequent comments, each of these dimensions and how our interest in fashion accompanies us on both an individual and community journey towards well-being. More and more I see the power of fashion being used for the advancement of human, social and environmental well-being, a delight for me being a professor who seeks to advance the well-being of the human community. The rapidly emerging field of fashion technology is using fashion to solve problems and to promote inclusion. Whether that is designing attractive clothing for those who are wheelchair bound or making a silk like fabric from orange peels, fashion has enormous power to make everyone’s life better (since we all need to wear clothes, right?)

So this week I will be focusing on the fourth dimension  (see #4 above) of what I am calling well-being.

What are you doing to support the fourth dimension of well-being? Share your tips and successes!