When I hear the word beautiful, I immediately think of glossy covers of magazines. Pages upon pages of flawless celebrities or impeccable home design or designer handbags. Flawless skin and tresses that can only be achieved in a stylists’ chair. The simple truth is we live in a society that is constantly chasing a photoshopped picture of perfection that we have coined as beautiful, and I understand, completely. There is something incredibly empowering about designer clothes, freshly curled hair and make-up applied with precision.
But, I can’t help but think we are getting it all wrong.
The dictionary defines beauty as having qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc. I have to wonder, are we limiting beauty by placing this extremely unrealistic standard on what we consider being beautiful? Please, do not misunderstand the point I’m making. Those people and things that adorn the pages of magazines are beautiful. I just don’t think beauty is as one-dimensional or superficial as we make it out to be. I just happen to think that beauty is much more.
This past Saturday, I was sitting on the floor with Braylen in my lap. We were working hard at her new easel, painting a picture. Sometimes she invites me to help, and I always oblige her. She is getting older, and she doesn’t think she needs me as much I think she should need me. So, when she calls me over to easel to paint with her, I put a halt on whatever it is that I’m doing. I’m positive there is no way it can trump painting with my best girl. I always play the same role at the easel; I paint hearts on her paper while she directs me with adorable commentary. Look, mom, paint a blue one for daddy ’cause he’s our boy. You can paint a ‘lellow one for Coco. Don’t forget ’bout your heart mommy, we need a pink one for the girls hearts. Let’s see, where can we put a BK heart for Braylen? Make my heart green ’cause I am Braylen Kate Green. Right mommy, I’m Braylen Kate Green?
And so I sit, on the floor, with my toddler in my lap, and I paint. My hair isn’t at its best, I pull it back in a messy ponytail to avoid it getting in the way of the paint. My clothes? Laughable, this time I’m wearing Allen’s t-shirt and an old pair of leggings. Not a single accessory in sight. There’s a funny thing about these moments, they are effortlessly beautiful. Every single thing about the scene. From paint stained hands to my less than stellar attire. And I don’t even have to think twice about the importance of this moment. I know, without a single doubt, I would request this moment to be included in the highlight reel.
Yet, I couldn’t possibly be any further away from the beauty I chase as I’m getting ready to go out to dinner or to a concert. The beauty that makes me wish my skin tone was a little less translucent and a little more sun-kissed. The beauty that causes me to use those awful teeth whitening strips that taste horrible. You know the one, right? That over teased, over processed version of yourself in clothes that are not as comfortable as they should be for what they cost.
This is the part where I’m supposed to say that everyone else has it all wrong. That we can’t possibly continue to idolize photoshopped bodies and pursue constant perfection in an effort to somehow experience the beauty that we see. This is the part where we join forces to give America a nice, new image for the word beautiful to rest upon.
Because that’s not my point. Not even close. My point is simply, there is more. There is more beauty in our lives than the reflection we see in the mirror. Beauty that doesn’t rely on outward perfection, self-image, or the influence of others. Beauty that sometimes can’t even be seen by others, that sometimes can’t even be seen by us, we only know it’s there because of how we feel. You know that version, don’t you?
The one that comes in the form of pajama days and paintbrushes, that blossoms in the midst of messy cookie baking sessions. One that looks best with bedhead and a sleepy smile, one that you can feel no matter how you look. I’m not suggesting that we throw out our makeup bags and live in sweat pants. I’m simply suggesting that we give ourselves a break. That we take a step back. That we stop counting our flaws, stop keeping score, stop relying on something else to give us what we already have; a life full of beauty.
Life is made up of many beautiful moments. The world is full of beautiful people. Museums house beautiful art. Beauty is abundant. Today let’s concentrate on the definition of beauty rather than the image. Let’s concentrate on the things that give us great satisfaction and the people who give us beautiful moments. Because my biggest fear is that I’ll miss one of those beautiful moments while I’m busy trying to find beauty somewhere else.