I have often thought in the last few years very deeply on the subject of feminine beauty. What does it mean? Who has it? How do we get it? Why do so many beautiful women feel so unattractive? Why do women critisize themselves so much? Why are we so focused on our flaws?
As I have watched my body change from the super skinny fatless girl of my teens to the motherly figure with hips and love handles and lines on my face I have looked deeply into the mirror. My husband tells me I am beautiful and sexy but I can't understand why? I don't see it! Is he lying? I can't seem to feel the beauty he says I have. I look in the mirror and I see too many freckles, dark circles under my eyes and baggy pajamas that do nothing to flatter the figure. I'm too tired to dress up and do makeup most days. Does that mean I am dumpy looking?
I started looking at other women. Young to old. A trend emerged as I really looked at each of the women I encountered on a day to day basis. They were each beautiful. Seriously! I'm not making this up. Every single woman had some beautiful quality about them. I think what struck me the most was their smiles. Each woman has their own magical little spark in their smile. EVERY other woman had some kind of beauty that was clear and apparent to me. What was I missing. Why did all of these women curvy or stick straight, lined or smooth, short or tall come across as beautiful, but when I look in the mirror I can't see it in my self?
It dawned on me. Mirrors are evil! Yes, I know we've all thought that in the fitting room at the department store. You're not telling me anything new, Melissa! Those mirrors are warped and brutal but even the perfect mirrors are missing something. A mirror only sees on one plain. When you stand in front of a mirror you are hardly revelaing your true self. You don't smile and laught at yourself. You don't cry and show your emotion. You look for the imperfections, on purpose. That's what it's for isn't it? We stand in front of it and we pick at every part of the picture we see to make sure we don't walk out the door with something hanging out of our noses or hair coming out of our moles, or our underwear sticking out of our pants, or to make sure our fat roles don't fall to far over our pants waist. We are looking deeply and intentionally for our flaws so we can try our best to fix them or hide them. We are not looking for the beauty, and we will not find it in that evil mirror. So where is this elusive beauty? How do we find it? How do we feel it? Well I haven't figured out how to feel it exactly, at least not yet. But I have decided to start trusting the people around me to see it for me.
You see, a woman's beauty is deep and complex. It encompasses so much more than an appearance. It is a history of our lives, it is the attributes of our parents, it is the pain we have felt and the joy we have experienced. It is our innocence or our experience. It molds our bodies and faces and shapes them. You can see the love on a woman's face and you can see the heartache there too. We are transparent. You can see through the surface of a woman into the depth of her soul and character. A mirror can not. It takes all of the senses to experience a woman's full beauty.
Our eyes can see into her eyes and perceive the emotion behind them and the wisdom of her experiences.
Her touch shows us her tenderness or strength.
Our ears can hear the laughter or the sorrow in her voice, and even the love that she holds. The sweet notes of her tone.
Our sense of smell can detect even the soft scents of a woman, flowery or fruity or the hard work and the labor she has endured.
Her husband's kisses taste the delight of her love.
All of these things are part of a woman's beauty.
Some may say that beauty is only skin deep. Others may say that beauty is on the inside. They are both missing something. A woman's beauty is all encompassing. It is on the outside and the inside. It is in her every experience and feeling and action.
Our beauty is our story. Every part or mark on us is a chapter of our story.
We don't need make-up or clothes or face lifts to make us beautiful. We ARE beautiful! We have just relied on the mirror for far too long to define how we feel about ourselves.
Next time my husband tells me I am beautiful I will trust that what he says is true, because he can see my story, even if I can't find it in the mirror.