8 Life Lessons We Can All Learn From Dita Von Teese And Her Beauty Icons

Becoming a burlesque icon and beauty guru like Dita Von Teese doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The successful entertainer has learned from — and been inspired by — both legendary predecessors and her contemporaries, and now she’s paying it forward. Von Teese’s new book, Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour, written with Rose Apodaca, shares her wealth of knowledge. Through her guidebook, readers benefit from Von Teese's seemingly limitless supply of information, including tips on everything related to beauty and style.

Your Beauty Mark’s content is so extensive that it will appeal to casual and diehard Von Teese fans alike. (In fact, it will probably even create some new ones.) Along with gorgeous photos of the burlesque star from photo shoots over the years, the book includes how-tos (which may inspire you to try your own pinup shoot), essays written by fellow glamour experts, and more. Best of all, Von Teese, her book’s contributors, and the icons she references provide wonderful quotes and useful advice throughout that apply not just to glamour, but life in general.

Here are eight life lessons from Von Teese and her beauty inspirations that we should all take to heart, based on Your Beauty Mark:

1. Maria Callas: Live By Your Own Rules

One of the greatest opera singers of all time, Maria Callas made her way to the top by refusing let others impose limits on her. Not even near-blindness kept her from the stage. “Don’t talk to me about rules, dear. Where I stay, I make the goddamn rules,” Your Beauty Mark quotes her as saying.

2. Suzanne Von Aichinger: Love What Makes You Different

“Differences are beautiful and intriguing and mysterious and fascination,” writes von Aichinger in Your Beauty Mark. She says that she never let herself feel self-conscious about her height or the bump on her nose. In fact, von Aichinger now credits the latter with making her whole modeling career.

3. Angelique Noire: Make Your Own Path

Angelique Noire has helped change the face of the modern-day pinup, overcoming a lack of black women in the field. “I thought, If I wait for a client to realize I could do this look, too, I’ll be waiting for a long time. So I better show them I can do this myself,” she writes. Noire used social media to get her work out there — and it worked.

4. Mae West: Focus On What Matters

Actress and sex symbol Mae West once joked, “I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number of carats in a diamond.” As Von Teese points out, the actress was more focused on how she felt than what she ate. She was known to love both exercise and her legendary curves, and she was known to put more stock in her health overall instead of a beauty ideal.

5. Catherine Baba: Find What Feels Right — And Do It

Renowned stylist Catherine Baba shares in Your Beauty Mark that experimentation has been central to her career. “I didn’t set out to create a look. I did what felt comfortable,” she writes. In fashion, Baba advocates playing by your own rules and making sure you feel “divine,” but this tip is great for life in general.

6. Betty Grable: Celebrate Your Strengths

Actress and pinup Betty Grable knew what her strengths were and wasn’t afraid to own them. “There are two reasons why I am successful in show business and I am standing on both of them,” she’d joke about her “million-dollar legs,” according to Von Teese. In fashion and in life, it’s not only OK, but recommended to recognize your own strong points, and be free to joke about what other people are saying about you. If you won’t, there’s no guarantee that anyone else will.

7. Carmen Dell’Orefice: Just Be Who You Are

When Von Teese once asked Carmen Dell’Orefice for advice, the former model told her, “Don’t you ever change who you are and what you look like. Don’t let anyone tell you to change your makeup or change your hair.” She’s right: Beyond our appearance, it’s important to think about what we want for ourselves rather than what we think we should want.

8. Dita Von Teese: Failure Is A Step Toward Success

It’s no accident that Von Teese has made such a success of her career. She’s passionate about her work and willing to take risks. To describe how she creates her looks, she writes, “I experiment and I fail and I try again and again until I get it right.” Accomplishing a goal rarely happens on the first try, and it won’t happen at all if you give up.

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