This I Believe

Tiana - Portland, Oregon
Entered on August 23, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I believe that it is best seen with the eyes closed.

As a teenager adults always commented on how pretty I was, but I didn’t believe them because my testosterone-loaded peers never affirmed it. I didn’t get asked out on one single date in high school.

Blond haired, blue-eyed, with a stick thin boy figure and extraordinary height, I lamented my lack of endowment and the moles on my face. I was oblivious to what I had, focusing on my perceived imperfections. But now, small breasts and distinctive beauty marks are the least of my imperfections and my height is diminished by my wheelchair.

At the age of 20, my body was decimated when an intoxicated driver ran a stop sign and broadsided the car I had been riding in. I was thrown out and run over by a 3,000 lbs. vehicle. After 34 reconstructive surgeries my body is crisscrossed with scars.

At first I was horrified about how “ugly” my legs looked. I saw myself as disfigured and that impression was confirmed by the horrified looks of young girls, mothers admonishing their children to not stare and people averting their eyes at the sight of me.

Every pointed glance, whispered comment, and averted eye bruised my self-esteem. Now if I even notice it, I laugh, stare back or make a sassy comment.

It wasn’t that one-day I had an epiphany. Acceptance was slow and came through many different experiences, but mostly through people. I met people who had exceptional physical beauty, but they were shallow, self-absorbed and cruel. And all their physical beauty could not hide their ugly personality. And other people who at first glance could not inspire any complimentary physical descriptions, but I was drawn to them physically and emotionally because of how they made me feel.

Our society defines beauty by physical perfection achieved through camera filters, fad diets and Photoshop. Beauty is a multi-billion dollar business that is taking its toll on women through bulimia, anorexia and yes, even plastic surgery. No matter the consequences, there are women who would do anything to look like the movie stars and models in the magazines.

I refuse to let someone else define beauty for me, particularly if it’s Hollywood or a magazine. Truly beautiful people shine from the inside out. It’s a beauty that never fades, not with wrinkles or extra weight earned through age. That is the type of beauty that I aspire to. That is how I believe beauty should be defined.

When I look in the mirror I don’t think “Oh my scars are so ugly.” I barely notice them. What you look like isn’t important, what’s important is who you are inside and the choices you are making in your life.

Now put down the fashion magazine, turn off the T.V. and quit looking in every mirror you pass. Close your eyes, now you can really assess what will enhance your beauty.