We throw around the word "beauty" all time. But what exactly is beauty? The late Audrey Hepburn used to share a lovely poem with her children when she would go to bed that I think captured beauty quite well. Written by Sam Levenson, the poem in part read:
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
"Make-up can only make you look pretty on the outside but it doesn't help if you're ugly on the inside. Unless you eat the make-up." Audrey Hepburn
I certainly don't want to eat my make-up, although I admit that there are some chocolate-mint flavored lip glosses that I've had the urge to ingest. ;)
When it comes to our looks, we all have areas we want to improve, whether it's our not-so-perfect skin, our noses, thighs, chins, etc. We often look in the mirror and see a distorted image. Our brains tend to focus on the features we don't like (our so-called "flaws") as if someone replaced our regular mirrors those from the carnival fun house. But we don't find anything funny about it. Cue the scary movie music...
"Always be a first-rate version of yourself. Instead of a second-rate version of someone else." Judy Garland
As cliche as it might sound, real beauty always stems from the inside. But we tend to forget that there is so much more to being beautiful than just physical appearance, or we just push that fact aside as if to say, "Yeah, yeah, what's on the inside counts, blah blah, but I still want to look like Celebrity "X" or I want the body of "Celebrity Y". But haven't we all met those people who may not have anything particularly extraordinary about their appearance, but who radiate a certain appeal? They become more beautiful to us the more we get to know them. And we've also been introduced to people who have striking features on the outside but are rotten on the inside. The more they open their mouth, the uglier they seem, and we just want to run away! When looking at our perceived flaws in the mirror, we have to remind ourselves that people who exude inner beauty will always be more beautiful than those who are simply blessed with perfect features.
To be beautiful is to be secure with ourselves, to be kind, loving, compassionate, genuine and pure. These characteristics will always trump in the end because real beauty comes from your heart. When we put others or ourselves down or constantly seek people's approval, our own genuine beauty tends to fade. We do this because of our individual insecurities, but pointing out another person's flaws doesn't make those insecurities go away. We don't feel better afterward; We feel worse. :( Whenever I catch myself speaking negatively about someone (I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I try my best not to!), I always feel uglier, like I immediately want to take back what I said. But by then the damage is done and I vow to never do it again. It's not always easy. We are human and often get caught up in our own insecurities, but we can eventually get past this behavior. It helps to avoid people who are constantly speaking negatively about themselves or others, putting people down and just spreading ill will. All that criticizing, judging, and comparing is toxic and sometimes contagious. And ultimately, it just leads to ugliness.
Beauty is in all of us, all around us. We just need to open our eyes and ditch the fun house mirrors. Relinquish the harmful conversations about ourselves and about others. Every now and then, when those bouts of PMS, anger, jealousy, insecurity, or whatever poisonous thoughts take over, we need to remind ourselves of Ms. Hepburn's favorite poem and know that true beauty is kindness and appreciation of the goodness in other people, not in achieving the facial features of our favorite celebrity.