When I was a child I received many messages about my physical appearance. Some were good. Little old ladies (hey, they were probably my age now, but I was a kid and that is how I remember it) would stop my mom in the store to go on and on about how beautiful my big eyes were and how lovely my curly, brown hair was. Some were bad. My peers told me my big eyes made me look like a frog and straight hair was way prettier than frizzy, curly hair ever would be. It was confusing and being beautiful seemed like a lot of work and possibly impossible to achieve since there were so many different opinions and people to please.
As I got older I realized I was probably never going to be beautiful (and by older I mean age ten). I was obviously an acquired taste. Some people thought I was pretty. Some didn’t. Some thought I’d be pretty if I only brushed my hair more, stood up straighter, smiled more, had designer jeans, wore makeup, lost a few pounds, gained a few pounds, got a face transplant. You know, the usual.
At some point I just stopped trying to be beautiful and focused on trying to be smart. Somehow that seemed more achievable. It seemed more controllable. If I got an A I was smart and nobody could deny it. It was so much easier than trying to be beautiful. Being beautiful was so arbitrary. Beauty was in the eye of the beholder. A 4.0 grade point average wasn’t as refuteable. Plus, nobody would openly debate whether you were smart or not right in front of you. That would be rude. For some reason people have always thought it was acceptable and appropriate to discuss a persons beauty or lack of beauty right in front of them. I’ve had my body parts discussed and rated by all sorts of people. How is that not considered rude? I found that confusing as I grew up too. I never asked for opinions about my appearance, but people were always happy to offer them anyway.
Besides being smart, I also tried out some other attributes like being funny, kind, and good with little kids. I aced them all. Well, the being funny part is up for debate, but since I laugh at my own jokes so much I figure I must be somewhat funny, right? Being kind was easy for the most part because I’ve never liked to hurt people’s feelings or make them uncomfortable because I knew what that felt like. Little kids always liked me. Probably because I was funny or at least kind. Actually, they mostly liked me because I wasn’t worried about being pretty and was content to roll around in the mud and grass with them and run around with sticks stuck in my hair. There is a certain freedom when you give up on being beautiful.
Anyway, people are always saying beauty is only skin deep, but I disagree. Beauty doesn’t have anything to do with skin at all. Beauty is only soul deep and I can prove it. Have you ever met someone with average looks or someone the masses would claim to be downright unattractive, but when they smile it lights up the whole room? Their eyes sparkle so much it feels like you are staring into the universe filled with moons and stars? Have you ever met someone that is so gentle, so patient, so kind that they radiate beauty? Have you ever met someone who loves what they are doing so much that they actually glow when they talk about it? Have you ever been loved by a love so strong that you can barely even see the physicality of the person loving you? That’s soul beauty. That’s pure love. That’s the kind of stuff that makes people truly beautiful. It’s also the only beauty that truly matters.
When I was a preteen there was a woman my parents were friends with. One night I heard them talking about how beautiful she was. When she smiled she became so gorgeous. People were immediately drawn to her. It was true. I had seen it happen with my own eyes. It felt like magic. One day I happened to see her sitting at the table thinking. Her face was drawn into a deep frown. I studied her features because I wanted to be beautiful and gorgeous too. I was trying to figure out what her secret was. She looked very plain. Her eyes were ordinary. Her hairy was mousy and the most boring light brown. Her nose was long and pointy. She wasn’t extraordinarily beautiful in any sense of the word. I couldn’t figure out what made her so attractive. As I was staring she looked up and saw me and smiled. She was radiant. She was beautiful. I could have basked in her warmth all day. I learned a very important lesson about beauty that day. Of course, it took me quite a few more years to really understand the lesson I had learned. I went through my twenties trying to feel beautiful and act beautiful while secretly believing I was probably ugly. I didn’t realize how little beauty had to do with what was on the outside. I was too busy trying to keep up with my peers to stop and think about it too much.
Now I worry much less about my hair, my makeup, or my clothes. I notice less and less of that about other people too. I’m more focused on big, contagious smiles, enthusiasm, sparkling eyes, and love. Mostly love. People who love life, love themselves, and love you are always going to be the most attractive people in the room. They have the kind of beauty that is going to matter most to you because they have soul beauty and it is deeper than any other kind.
I am participating in August McLaughlin’s Beauty of a Woman Blogfest IV today. To read more about beauty from other participants please visit the official Beauty of a Woman page. You can win prizes for reading, commenting, and sharing posts so please check it out!