As an eighteen-year-old girl, the way I look of course concerns me. I straighten my hair. I wear makeup. I strive to resist the temptation of Reese’s Cups and Chicken McNuggets. I wear cute clothes. Why? So I can fit the mold that some magazine editor or television producer has deemed “hot?” So I can gain acceptance from strangers based solely on how I look? As much as I hate to admit it, occasionally the desire to look a certain way does overtake me.
However, I thankfully haven’t become too caught up in physical appearances, but have been able to learn from a saying that has been passed down from my grandmother to my mother to me. This saying has become what I believe: Pretty is as pretty does. It matters not what a person looks like, but how they behave that determines their beauty.
My grandmother wasn’t pretty because of her tall, slender figure and flawless complexion. She was beautiful because she held “hug auctions” for her grandchildren, where the child bidding the highest number of hugs won the item. Since my grandmother passed away three years ago, I cherish the memory of those hugs and the feel of her warm fleece nightgown against my tiny hands. Whenever I look at the soft blue handkerchief I “won” at a hug auction, I am reminded of my grandmother’s true beauty.
My mother isn’t pretty because of her sparkling blue eyes and shining smile. She’s gorgeous because she takes time out of her busy schedule to visit with her elderly friend, Gibb, whose only daughter died of cancer several years ago. Even though to me, the idea of taking an 89-year-old out for ice cream doesn’t sound thrilling, my mom does this regularly. Her beauty radiates in the form of her compassion for those around her.
It amazes me how true the statement “pretty is as pretty does” really is. I have had countless experiences with people whom after spending time with them, I see them in a totally different way. Ugly personalities really do show themselves, but thankfully, beautiful personalities shine through as well.
Because I live by the belief that pretty is as pretty does, I’m not worried about getting old and wrinkly. I know that’s bound to happen, but I’ve learned that my true beauty does not lie within my looks. The beauty that I have will last as long as I live.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.