Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are. | Markus Zusak, I am the Messenger

I recently watched Penelope, a film about a cursed girl who is born with the nose of a pig. By the hand of her aristocratic mother, she hides herself away from society for twenty-odd years, ashamed of what people will think of her unusual appearance. But then a young man—with plenty issues of his own—enters her life unexpectedly, and it isn't long before he begins to recognize and appreciate her unique beauty like no one else ever has. The quote by Zusak, although otherwise unrelated, sums up the heartwarming movie perfectly. And both have sent the wheels in my head spinning.

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"You don't think you're beautiful," he said to me, almost in the form of a question. The change in conversation caught me by surprise. No, I suppose I don't. But it made me wonder, is 'beautiful' the first adjective that comes to any girl's mind when she sees her reflection in a mirror or her image in a photograph? Maybe for a select few. But for most of us, I'm guessing, acceptance is key. I accept myself for who I am, beautiful or not. Some days, even this is a struggle.

Perhaps that's our curse: the tendency to settle on the acceptance of our flaws rather than the recognition of our beauty. What will it take for us to realize that our flaws are part of what make us beautiful? And even more, that there is beauty in who we are, regardless of the color of our eyes or the curves of our face?

As true as these statements are, it's much easier to say out loud than to believe in our hearts. It sits there on the surface, like a nagging parent's reminder: determined to be heard, but slow to sink in. So, what is it going to take? For Penelope, it isn't the approval of others that helps her believe in her own loveliness. It's not any one thing or any one moment in her life that changes her perspective on beauty or idea of herself. Rather, it is the culmination of everything that she has learned, felt, and experienced throughout those lonely twenty-something years that gives her the power to finally break the curse.

One day, one extraordinary day, it all just kind of clicks. She takes an honest look at herself and for the first time thinks, 'I am beautiful. I am enough.'