A girl sat near me in Starbucks for a few minutes before her boyfriend joined her. She sipped an iced tea and I noticed how beautiful she was.
What is interesting is that I am the first one to admit my perspective of beauty is right in line with what the world tells us it should be.
I know I should lose 20 lbs. I know that I need to keep my eyebrows trimmed and my nails neat. I know that I should keep my hair brushed and tinted to cover some new grey. I know that I need to keep my breath fresh, my underarms deodorized and my hands softened with lotion. I know that if I do all these things, I will be as beautiful as my body and face will allow and that I will fit more and more into the idea of what our society tells us is beautiful.
I looked at the girl again.
Her eyebrows weren’t trimmed. Her lips had gloss on them, but were oddly shaped. Her hair was frizzy and a little unruly. She turned to face her boyfriend and I noticed that there wasn’t much about her that embodied the cover of Cosmo or the centerfold of Playboy.
She was a little overweight and for all intents and purposes, looked quite normal.
But there was something about her. She was beautiful. It could have been the way she walked or even an air of humble confidence. It might have been her eyes.
But as she got up to walk away I wondered about my own ideas of beauty. Why do I think she’s beautiful?
It’s easy to call a sunset beautiful, a five year old girl’s head of blonde hair gorgeous or to call a Victoria’s Secret lingerie model drop-dead. But the normal girl at the table next to me? Was she beautiful?
Yes, she was.
Here’s the other thing. I didn’t know her. I know that when someone very “plain” is compassionate or kind or loving, their beauty shines from their eyes and heart and a very normal face becomes extraordinary. But I had no idea what kind of person she was.
Even so, she was beautiful.
Let’s decide today, to begin to strip our minds of what the beautiful standards are. We can continue to paint our nails and comb our hair, but in this age of Pinterest and all else, let us not let the beautiful standards define us. Let us not look to impossible things to define us.
Because there is no way, ever, we can live up to it.
Let us instead look for joy in the pain, hope in the dry hills and beauty in the dust.
How do you define beauty? What is something beautiful you have seen this week?