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Does beauty come from without or within?
The concept of “beauty” has always intrigued me – what is considered beautiful and what is not, and why we human beings have established those standards? We have all seen women that are not classic beauties, yet have an aura or a presence that somehow made us see them as beautiful. What is it that they have?
When I was little I was convinced that my mother was the most beautiful woman in the world. In my teens that I even questioned that assumption, but only because I was told that I looked just like her, and I certainly did not consider myself to be beautiful or even particularly pretty. Perhaps wholesome, maybe even cute but certainly not beautiful.
My mother, like so many other beautiful women, had certain characteristics that captured one’s attention and intrigued the imagination. She was strong, self-confident, and self-assured, she never backed down when she thought she was right. She radiated a sense of compassion and kindness from the top of her flaming red hair to the tip of her toes, and her green eyes glowed with genuine caring and love for everyone that she knew and loved. She carried herself with grace and dignity and she made everyone in her presence feel like the most important person in the world. She loved without question and gave of herself unreservedly every day of her life for as long as I can remember.
It wasn’t until I finally grew up and moved away from home that I recognized these characteristics and realized that my mother’s beauty didn’t come from having a perfect complexion, classical features, silky shiny hair, or a perfect body. She didn’t need any of those things, although she had many of them. Her beauty beamed outward from within her and emitted a radiance that shone around her like a beacon of light.
Truly beautiful women have those kinds of characteristics in common. Let’s examine, for example, the actress, Angelina Jolie. She is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful women in the world – but why? Is it her long dark hair? Is her dark penetrating eyes? Is it her full lips? Sure those things add to the mystique of the woman but they, alone, don’t make her beautiful. After all, she has less than perfect legs and her body often wavers from being painfully thin to a bit more Rubenesque. Still, she is considered beautiful.
Angelina was a relatively unknown actress who was thought to be a bit of a “kook” and considered weird and unnatural for many years. She was only elevated to the stature of one of the world’s most beautiful women when she dared to be herself, warts and all, and people began to see her for who she truly is, to see her virtues as well as her faults. Her work with charity, her compassion for third-world countries, and her love of children are the things that elevated her beauty to new heights.
It’s an old saying, yet it remains true today – real beauty does come from within. If we allow the world to see us for who and what we are we just might be surprised to find out how many people will consider us beautiful. It took me a while to realize that but once I did there was no stopping me. That and that alone was responsible for my winning a beauty title, small as it might have been. It came from people loving me for me and not from the genes of my parents, plastic surgery tricks, expensive cosmetics or skin care. By accepting myself and allowing others to accept me I found my true beauty.
Now, when my grandchildren call me pretty or beautiful, I can accept the compliment. After all, I finally know where it comes from. It comes from the heart; where real beauty can always be seen.