A Common Beauty

Elizabeth - Charleston, South Carolina
Entered on March 21, 2008

A Common Beauty

It seems as though everyone has suddenly become more self conscious about the way they look. Everyday I hear women, including my own mother, complain about their butts being too big, their breast too small, their nose too large, and their clothes out of vogue. It makes me wonder what has happened to the qualities that use to matter such as honesty, responsibility, and intelligence. In the grocery line the other day, I skimmed over the popular magazines such as Glamour and Cosmopolitan. In each I saw something that merely resembled a human staring back at me, under a mask of makeup and orange skin and a body that looked as though it may easily be blown away in even the slightest zephyr. Is this really what it takes to be beautiful? I ask myself. I believe that no eye shadow, operation, or serum can create true beauty. I believe that all human beings are naturally beautiful.

I often reflect on my childhood, the happiest stage of my life. I remember a good bit, riding in my stroller down the jagged sidewalks of downtown Charleston, drinking juice from boxes, and pulling my younger sister’s hair. However, what I most vividly remember about my childhood was my babysitter, Stacey. Stacey had huge hips, a large stomach, and a round face complete with large lips and piercing, yet warm natured eyes. When she smiled or laughed, you could see her gold crowns glittering in the back of her mouth, like a hidden treasure chest. According to our society, she would be considered fat and ugly. However, in my mind she was some sort of goddess, especially when she wore her hair in tight, hard curls above her head. I loved everything about her, her extra weight never bothered me, in fact it made it all the more comfortable when I fell asleep on her.

It was not only Stacey’s physical appearance that I found beautiful, but also her spirit. As an African American who grew up and lived in the projects, Stacey had little tolerance for misbehavior. Whenever we were bad, Stacey was never afraid to punish us with time out in the corner. But this was only one of the many sides to Stacey. There was also this maternal side to her, and though she was only twenty when my parents hired her, she was wise when it came to children. I can remember the way she rocked me, the wood gently creaking under her weight and the slow movement back and forth. She was naturally playful, always willing to play games with my sister and me, as long as it didn’t involve too much running on her behalf. And she was caring like no one else, so caring that even though it has been over a decade since she has last babysat me, she still keeps in touch. Her calm voice over the telephone still soothes me as much as it did when she put me to bed.

When I was in middle school, I suffered under the miserable years of awkwardness. I was the tallest person in my sixth grade class, towering over my piers and even some of my teachers. None of my clothes fit me; my pants always fit me as capris, my long sleeve shirts showing three quarters of my bare arm. My hair was cut to the shoulders, wavy, and parted down the middle, sort of a bad John Lennon cut. I had braces that protruded from my mouth, so that even when my mouth was closed, a small piece of metal was still visible. My confidence level was at an all time low and I had little to no friends. But then one day I looked at myself long and hard in the mirror. I saw that there was nothing wrong with me, I could walk, I could see, I could hear, I could smell, I could draw, I could read, I could play tennis. Were these talents not beautiful? I realized that all people are blessed with different talents, which would make them all beautiful. Today, I suppose I am a bit less awkward looking, but I don’t focus on my looks. Instead I try to focus on looking at others and finding the true beauty within them, no matter what shape, color, or size they may be.