Pretty? Beauty? Beautiful? What is it all? This is what so many of our young girls, we women, even those more senior to us continue to ask. And as we ask the question, we continue to be bombarded with answers around what isn’t beautiful…leading to more and more questions than. And these questions then lead to self-question, self-doubt, and what is seemingly an unending cycle of unattainable aspirational beauty versus standing as beauty defined-our own definition of what beauty is.
Then there are times where the cycle actually ends but it’s not always a joyous occasion. How could this be? Well, just one case in point which really broke my heart last week-Karyn Washington, founder of ForBrownGirls and the DarkSkinRedLipProject. I understand that this recognized blogger had experienced the heaviness of depression and had built a platform, out of her own need, to boost the confidence of women, brown skinned women in particular, around beauty. Essentially, her need wasn’t met and she took her own life last week. So sad to say the very least.
This all brought me back to the work we really need to do for our young girls. Washington was in her early 20s but we have to get to the younger ones so their 20s are met with self-assuredness instead of question. We have to set the standard of self-discover, definition and distinction, and as it relates to the dimension of beauty, and being beautiful, we really have to commit to being just that. I believe that beauty is as beauty does. Now, don’t mistake where I am today with this as where I have always been. I am human and my teenage years were quite challenging. I trained as a dancer early on and actually remember the first time I questioned how I looked because it was the beginning of comparison for me…at age ten, I started to realize I didn’t look like all the other girls-the only black girl in the class, the only one who’s hair needed a lot more work than just rolling out of bed, and who’s hour glass figure was starting to take form (yup…10). Now when I shared how I felt with my mom about not being as pretty as the other girls, this was the first time she started to have me answer my own questions-“why do you think you’re not pretty?” “Who told you you weren’t beautiful?” and, because she’s a little sassy, “Who in all of the world could be prettier than my daughter?” Essentially, intentional or not, she was getting me to start thinking of my own view and definition of beauty. As I started to come up with answers for her, I actually remember realizing that, I was beautiful and that I just needed to see my differences as a unique qualifiers of beauty, especially when she told me “Well, I’m beautiful and if I am, you have to be too.”
Now did this set me up for a life immediately flourishing in self-confidence? No.
Did this all make me accept all of me at all once? Nope.
Did I stop trying to get rid of things that I saw as imperfections overnight? Definitely not.
What it did do for me though was started me on a path of self-definition, including my own personal definition of beauty and what it means to me. And I have to share this with you; my faith is a crucial part of my existence. It truly makes me who I am and as a result, learning early on that I was fearfully and wonderfully made, I knew that God didn’t make any mistakes and that being in His image, I had to be as beautiful as I could be because He wouldn’t create anything less than this in me. No, I’m not trying to get all preachy with you but I do want to suggest a few things:
- Determine your source of recognizing your beauty?Is it your faith, family, friends, your own self-assuredness or anything/anyone else that reminds you that you are beautiful just as you are.
- Remind yourself of your source. This is especially when you have your moments of self-doubt, questioning, and critique. We all go there from time to time whether slightly or to an extreme. When I get there, I actually remind myself that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. How will you remind yourself?
- Look ahead and think of modeling. No, I’m not telling you to get an agent and get ready for the runway. What I am saying is that your life is its own runway and there are peers and those younger than you looking to you to see how you model beauty. How do you show up as beautiful? What are you modeling around what it means to be beautiful? Is it simply leveraging the mask of lipstick and full on make-up every day, or is it partly that and beaming with confidence, joy and peace that only brings out the beauty in others? As of late, I’ve obtained more “little sisters” than I know what to do with. I love them all because they are each uniquely fabulous and I know they’re always watching everything I do, post, say, etc. I really have to model…and yup, so do you!
Beauty is as beauty does. Determine today the definition or beauty you want to represent and how you plan to do so, for you and for others.
Finally, I was recently reminded of something I wrote almost three years ago now….and it’s just been sitting in a folder. So, I pulled it out….and am daring to share with you….enjoy!
the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit : loveliness……
the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit : loveliness…..
The aggregate of qualities…yes indeed!
From within, to that which is seen, multiple variables to consider,
Various attributes on which many, dare I say, all, have agreed.
Beautiful sister, yes, beautiful, that’s you.
The great conversationalist, the educated, the gentle, the polished, the honors student, the career-
oriented, successful diva.
The lady who, to herself and her God, will always stay true, in practice and in virtue.
The Word even calls out that our beauty be that of our inner selves, the unfading beauty
of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
Now if there is one thing that never changes and yet remains accurate, that is The Word.
So even in these days of changing standards on the inner attributes of loveliness, in and through
His Word, God maintains His might.
Now keeping with the aggregate, let us not dismiss nor discount those traits that are pleasing to
Sister Maya identified it all starting with the span of your hips to the curve of your lips, from that
natural wave to those straight or straightened locks, slim long legs to the shorter thicker
All of us, so different, yet exactly the same in that we are all beautiful, as is the case with the
most mono-toned and the most vibrantly colored butterfly.
Now for those of us familiar with sister Esther’s story, we understand too, the value of outer
beauty-twelve months worth of attention given to this alone.
Again, aggregate of qualities, through it all we can give Him glory,
Taking our place, as we are called, shining, just like Esther, true to her very name, indeed
everything about her shone.
Truly, this proclamation could span into the rest of days and one point, one theme, one truth
Beauty, being beautiful, as His clay, this is our natural tendency, He would make us nothing less
than the reflection of His image.
Tripart beings-peace in mind, body, gentle soul, the aggregate of our existence, mental, physical,
spiritual-extraordinary, unique reflections of Him, this is the definition of beauty.
I dare you to share your definition of beauty with me, not just for me, but for all who will see it! Do tell, what makes you beautiful?
Soundtrack of the week: From one of the coolest Cover Girl’s there is, Perfect