A nagging truth.

4.28.2013

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 beautiful 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.'

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2 comments:

  1. Hmm, this is really interesting. Is it acceptance of our flaws or resignation? Because I think there's a difference for sure.

    I think acceptance is the first step on the bridge to feeling appreciation, to feeling beautiful regardless of others.

    But although we SAY that beauty is about more than looks, if people were to go around saying they felt beautiful, society would ALSO beat them down for that (is my guess).

    Beauty is one of those things that... if one feels it, they kind of have to keep it to themselves. Or society will say "you've got a big ego!" Beauty has become something that, by definition (societally), can only be validated from other people. I think that's part of the problem -- that if we say we're beautiful, society knocks that down as well. It's almost as if a woman can only find out she's beautiful if she tears herself down first only to be reassured by others. :(

    Anyway, I saw that movie a couple of years ago and enjoyed it!

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    Replies
    1. I agree with you, Erika. I think that acceptance of our flaws is the first step to feeling beautiful. But I also feel as if a lot of us stop there simply because it's comfortable.

      We fall into that trap of 'Well, this is as good as it's going to get today... I guess I'll roll with it," when what we should be thinking (because it's the truth) is, "I am uniquely beautiful, and my beauty radiates from within."

      I also agree with you that beauty has become something that only others can judge, unfortunately. But this notion is not only false but also harmful, because it places our value into the hands of others. When in reality, others' opinions of us do not make a difference in our value.

      My hope would be that society wouldn't judge or punish those who recognize their own beauty, because there are too many people (girls, in particular) that struggle with their self image. What if we lived in a world where every woman knew she was something special -- beautiful, lovely, admirable -- and didn't feel the need to compare herself to anyone else? We'd have a world of women who know their own worth, and that seems like a much happier place to me.

      ...Which is why I'm (slowly) learning to recognize my own beauty. And to help others see their own. I think we're all called to do this very thing. Because most of the time, we see each other in a brighter light than we see ourselves.

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