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Pretty Is As Pretty Does : A Perspective On Inner Beauty

August 14, 2011

By: Carole Hicks    (August 13, 2011)    

I know a woman whose mother told her that she was ugly. “No one will ever want you, Ella Jane. You are just too ugly.”

Let’s all gasp at the thought of such devastating rejection … from the very one who is supposed to think her daughter is beautiful.

I had a friend who once told me that her sister was disappointed that her daughter was not “prettier.”

Are you shaking your head?

Eleanor Roosevelt, a woman of great strength, leadership and vision, was asked if she had any regrets in her life and her response … a poignant, “I wish I had been prettier.”  It’s an ironic perspective, especially when we quote her on another occasion, saying, “No one can make your feel inferior without your consent.”

Khalil Gibran said, “Beauty is not in the face. Beauty is a light in the heart.”  I would have to say that it would be a struggle to have light in the heart when your own mama thinks you are unattractive.  You can’t have light in the heart, if you (yourself) look into the mirror and are constantly dissatisfied with what you see.

Too rarely do most of us focus on our real inner beauty and our inner strengths.  We probably judge ourselves even more harshly than any spectator or audience.  Nor are we fools … because we know that for all the beauty we may have on the inside, such a commodity is not marketable; is not usually displayed or celebrated (in the way that outer beauty is); and is not the characteristic that the world goes looking for … when they go looking for something to look at. (yes, I know … it’s baffling)

Whether we want to admit it or not, each of us has a standard for what is beautiful. “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”  We compare ourselves to each other, and to some out-of-reach, made-up Hollywood concoction of industry standards of beauty (which I’ve heard is a conglomerate ran by five, old, white men).  WE KNOW … that these standards have only been created as a way to manipulate us into buying creams, gels, dyes, pills, tools and gadgets to hopefully help us become prettier.  We fall for it, even though each of will also say, “inner beauty is what’s most important.”

One celebrated beauty, Cameron Diaz, said of people who possess a true inner beauty, “their eyes are a little brighter, their skin a little more dewy. They vibrate at a different frequency.” By the way, she sells all those creams and stuff for the “five old white men” too.  Does she believe what she says?  Does she even know what she’s saying?

Here is something interesting about all this. There must be some kind of paradigm shift concerning inner beauty because the industry is starting to use “different” kinds of models to market their creams and “snake” oils.  For example, there is the “Dove Campaign,” which features women who are older (wrinkled even), heavy-set or “big-boned”, splotchy, freckled, and a little saggy here and there, in an effort to celebrate “real” women, and “real beauty.”

I’m not complaining … I think it’s a good thing. A GREAT THING and I applaud them for it. I hope we all pay attention. And by all, I mean men/women … and their offspring.

A few years ago, I started getting some strands of grey in the corners of my hairline. A gentleman friend of mine called this to my attention, (as if I had not noticed them). I responded by saying, “I guess I need to cover that up.”

I was surprised by his response. “Oh no … keep it like it is … natural. You can handle it with grace.”  Needless to say, my heart leapt a little inside. I took his words as an unexpected, appreciated, and fondly remembered compliment. I felt like he was recognizing the “inner beauty” in me. I felt like he had taken notice of things beyond my outer shell. He should see how “grey-ceful” I am now.

I have heard that inner beauty comes when we wait upon God.

“Waiting” upon God can be interpreted in different ways. There is “waiting” like attending to or “serving.”  There is “waiting” like “pausing for an interval of time” or “waiting” as in “being available or ready.”  Waiting requires patience, understanding, thoughtfulness, reflection, endurance, commitment, perspective, contentment and wisdom.  The opposite of those things are impatience, confusion, selfishness, worry, anxiety, busy-ness, and stress.  So, of course, the former create a much more pleasant and beautiful person to be around.  The latter have ill-effects on one’s health and face, as well as one’s mood. Not so pleasant to be around.

My friend, Ella Jane (fictitious name but true friend), is one of the most beautiful women I know. While her mother faulted her for being too tall and lanky, I think she is statuesque.  She’s in her late 70’s and her face is a quite worn and wrinkled. But there is an awesome glimmer in her eyes and warmth in her smile, and joy in her spirit that makes me envious of her beauty.  I suspect that perhaps her mother even saw this magnetism and strength about Ella Jane, and was jealous because she could not capture it for herself.

This human obsession with beauty is not a new thing. It’s been plaguing us and affecting our decisions since the beginning of time.  And from the beginning of time, God has warned and shown us that “beauty is a fleeting thing” and should not influence how we react and interact with each other.  The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 16:7, “for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

“Pretty is as pretty does,” my Granny used to say.  Others have noted that “beauty is only skin-deep, but ugly goes to the bone.”  I do indeed think that we put too much emphasis on physical appearance. Sooner or later, these old bodies of ours just start to melt-down, spread out and fall apart — then all we have left is what’s inside.  


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Margaret boring permalink
    August 15, 2011 9:46 am

    When I was a little girl I would ask my mom if she thought I was beautiful and her response was “pretty is as pretty does”. My feelings wee always hurt because she wouldn’t tell me that she thought I was beautiful

    • August 15, 2011 5:17 pm

      You are beautiful margaret Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

  2. Texas008 permalink
    January 6, 2013 11:08 pm

    All of you ladies are beautiful – inside and outside.

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