Why You're Always Beautiful (Even When You Think You Aren't)

Recently a friend of mine had something like 200 pictures taken of her in a lush, green outdoor setting, her long wavy hair framing her deep-set eyes and her flushed cheeks, the sun setting through the trees all around her.

She looked amazing. In something like 150 of 200 photos, she looked so beautiful I felt teary, and not out of jealousy for once. Just adoration. She radiated joy.

She didn't like them. At first I was floored to hear that, but then I remembered: She's a chick. We do that.

When someone I see as beautiful doesn't see it, it hurts my heart. No; it feels like five hundred soccer players have torn my heart out and are practicing long kicks with it.

Yet I'm not surprised she didn't like the photos. Most of us don't know our own beauty. My own self-loathing feels perfectly justified until I see other women I love do that to themselves, then I realize we're all just encouraging each other to self-hate.

By self-hating ourselves.

"What are you up to today, Buffy?"

"I'm going to an 8 o'clock Zumba, then I'm going to self-hate myself for a while."

"Good idea! I mean about the self-hating. Zumba is too bouncy."

Enough, already.

If I tell you you're beautiful, believe me. Here's why. Because I'm going to define it for you, and you'll see that my logic is IMPENETRABLE. This goes for the men in my life, too.

First off, if I say you're beautiful, it does NOT mean the following:

  • You look like you've finally gotten down to your goal weight of 86 pounds.
  • You don't have a single blemish on your face.
  • You bought the exact right pair of designer jeans.
  • You loaned me money.

If I say you're beautiful, THIS IS WHAT I MEAN:

  • You walk in, and the Von Trapp children start singing in my head.
  • You smile at me, and I feel like I'm ten years old and somebody just picked me to skate during the Snowball.
  • You make my eyes happy, which are connected to my brain, which is connected to my heart.
  • You make me feel beautiful.
  • You allow me to feel beautiful without guilt.
  • The sight of you reminds me of all the times you've hugged me, made me laugh, or listened to the contents of my sometimes daft brain.
  • You brought me something sweet or sugary at some point.
  • You're gorgeous. In all the ways. In the classic ways, in the new ways, in all the ways that draw people to people.
  • You are you.

Right now, anyone who knows me very well is probably crying “bullshit,” because this rant probably makes me sound like someone who knows she's beautiful. I don't. Not in any permanent, reliable way. Generally for about for five or 10 minute at a time, and then it's gone again.

So, this is for me, too. Maybe I can stretch it out to half an hour some day! Baby steps.

My friend with the pictures did eventually come around, by the way, and found several that she wanted to keep. But she should keep them all. Because she fits all of my criteria, plus a few I haven’t thought of yet. She's beautiful. And some logic just can't be argued with.

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