We live in a society in which we are constantly inundated with beauty. Advertisements constantly tell us what we need to buy to be beautiful and accepted. Instagram gurus are now making thousands, if not millions (see: Michelle Phan) for making tutorials on how to conceal that pimple or rock that smokey eye. Don’t get me wrong, I love make up, and I love checking out all the latest hair trends. But where are the ads that are calling us to become the best version of ourselves? Why is society so driven to create images rather than character?
Growing up, my parents, well my grandparents who raised me, did their best. I look back now, and being a mom, I realize they weren’t perfect, but they gave me all that they had. My grandmother, whom I miss dearly, in a misguided effort to keep me focused, used to tell me that I wasn’t pretty, like my best friend…that I had better focus on my grades. In her effort to keep me from being boy crazy and self-obsessed, she did some damage to my self-esteem that she didn’t realize. I literally thought that I was ugly, well into my late 20s.
Now before you start feeling sorry for me, let’s take a look at this in a different perspective. Because I didn’t think that I was beautiful, it allowed me to cultivate and work on other aspects of who I was becoming. I wanted to be considered generous, kind, helpful and supportive. I wanted to be an accountable and trustworthy person. I wanted to be unselfish, thinking about the big picture and needs of the team vs. me.
Realizing that looks aren’t everything allowed me to look for traits and qualities in others that had nothing to do with their looks. I wanted friends and lovers who loved others, who were generous and hard working. It didn’t matter to me what someone looked like, I wanted to understand their heart, their work ethic and their values.
So based on those values, and hard learned lessons, it’s interesting to interact with people today who are literally obsessed with appearance…yet have empty hearts and selfish perspectives towards others. We are constantly fooled and made to feel inferior by others highlight reel via social media.
Beauty is really about how you treat others, how you value yourself, your true self, and what you contribute to the world around you. Beauty is found in serving in a soup kitchen, or holding an open door for someone else. Beauty is on display when we put the needs of others before our own. We are at our most beautiful when we are seeking a life that serves the needs of others. We are beautiful when we are living out the purpose for which we were placed on the earth. We are beautiful when we choose to do what’s right, even when no one is looking. Beauty comes from building character, and working to become the best version of ourselves…a lifelong work.
So while selfies likes, and advertisements seem to dictate what beauty really is made of, remember that true beauty comes from within.