I believe that beauty can be found beyond popular magazines and movie stars. I am inclined to believe that women have a particularly difficult time finding true beauty in themselves because of the culture and society that we have constructed. It isn’t that true beauty doesn’t exist but instead it is that true beauty is hidden beneath the makeup and clothing. It is beyond our everyday understanding of what is appealing and what is repugnant to the eye.
As a disabled woman I’ve found the challenge to look past my physical appearance to expose a truer beauty and the spirit of myself a rather daunting endeavor. It’s not that I have gone through past childhood trauma of being told I was ugly or being made fun of over my short stature and wheelchair, but instead what makes things challenging is a result of my lack of self-acceptance. However, I’ve come to find that however cliché the saying, beauty is more than skin deep.
There is a sense of beauty I see when I look at the radiant smile of my younger sister as she talks of making the high school volleyball team. I see beauty when my friend plays with her young child, when an elderly couple holds hands while walking down the street or when I am able to admit that I am wrong and I work to change myself.
I believe that beauty is something that is indeed beyond our appearances but also, it is something that is beyond us as living beings.
When we are able to come to a solid understanding of self-acceptance we are able to look beyond ourselves and begin to see the beauty in the world around us and in others. There is beauty in being able to reach out to those in need and acknowledging when you yourself need to reach out to others. There is beauty in letting the sun beat upon your face as the wind blows your hair in disarray. There is beauty in first love and belief in a life after one of this world.
Often times when I think of what beauty is to me I can’t help but think of a homeless woman I met while studying in Washington, D.C. After passing this woman several times on my way back and forth from the Metro station to my internship, I felt an overwhelming pull to reach out to her. Being it was around Easter time and feeling a sense of sadness about being away from my family for the holiday I thought to myself that I wasn’t the only person who was away from family, the woman outside Starbucks would most likely be celebrating the holiday alone as well. In a sense of solidarity I wrote the woman a card and one day on my way to the Metro I gave her the card. For me, the moment of true beauty came when the woman looked up at me with an amazingly graceful smile and said “God Bless You!”
Despite never getting to know her name, I don’t think that a day goes past that I don’t think of her. There was a moment of beauty in the snapshot of time where we were one of the same and there was an acknowledgement of unity. I believe there is great beauty in the simple things in life; not the superficial things but the snippets of life where time stands still. I believe that the greatest way to peace and harmony is first self-acceptance and second, finding beauty in the simplest moments in time and things of our beautiful world. It’s simple to be beautiful and it’s beautiful to be simple; this I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.