Beauty Is as Beauty Does

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Beau-ty (noun)    :the quality of being physically attractive
                            : the qualities in a person or a thing that give pleasure to the senses or the mind
                            : a beautiful woman

Beauty is a hard concept to pin down. Its defining features change over time and space and no two people perceive it in quite the same way. A person’s age, culture, personal history and exposure can influence what he or she finds beautiful and a single experience can change that perspective in mere moments. I remember, as an 11 year old, hating my red hair and freckles rather intensely. I hated that they made me stick out in a crowd. I hated that they were the source of taunts and jabs from my peers. I hated having to be afraid of the sun (which I still am) and that I couldn’t eat carrots in public without someone asking me if I was keeping up the colour of my hair. I hated that when I looked in the mirror, all I saw was a splotchy faced leprechaun with braces (I was, perhaps, slightly awkward as a ‘tween). But then one day, I met this wonderful boy with bright blue eyes and the biggest heart I had ever encountered. For some crazy reason, he fell in love with me and one day when I asked him to enumerate the reasons why, one of the items on his list was my red hair and freckles. “You’re so beautiful”, he said. Suddenly, my mind had changed. No, I didn’t look in the mirror and see a super model, but the edges of my definition of beauty, which were spotless skin and dark hair, had softened to the point where I could look at myself and accept the idea that maybe, just maybe, curly, red hair and freckles could be beautiful too.

Nowadays, we’re bombarded with so many images and ideals of beauty that I think it’s become even harder to get a grasp on what it really is. From perfectly sculpted models to HD makeup, to professional photographers and photo shop wizards, there are so many elements that conspire to make us feel like no matter how hard we try, we’ll never be beautiful. I’m not going to sit here and pontificate on what I think beauty is (autumn in the Catskills, watching a baby drift off to sleep, a perfect smokey eye) but I will tell you a few things I’m pretty sure it is not. Beauty is not a girl with a small waist and an equally small mind. Beauty is not the face with a perfect nose which is always up in the air. Beauty is not the sparkling white smile that gives way to hurtful gossip and insults when the cameras aren’t snapping. Stay away from these sorts of things; be honest, be considerate, be real, and you will always be beautiful. Now, of course, if you can be all those things and learn how to apply the perfect winged liner…well then, you’re not just beautiful, you’re fabulous!

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