Next week I’m speaking with a group of fifth grade girls at a local elementary school about true beauty. This will be my third time speaking at this school on this topic. However, rather than repeat what I taught before, I found myself being pulled back to the drawing board. Beauty is complicated, and it is important to regularly revisit what it means.
We are constantly bombarded with images of people deemed beautiful. None of them look like me, and none of them look like the girls with whom I’ll be speaking. Yet just because we aren’t in the ad campaign or on the cover of the magazine does not deem us unbeautiful.
Inspiration Came from Harper’s Bazaar
As I was preparing for the talk, I discovered the Harper’s Bazaar “Beauty Issue” on my nightstand. Although I had read it last year (the issue came out in May 2021), I held onto it as I knew it would be useful in my work in some way. Sure enough, as I explored the issue once again, I knew I had landed on a goldmine. In the issue, Precious Lee, Rianne Van Rompaey, Hailey Bieber, Liu Wen, and Adwoa Aboah share their perspectives on identity, influence, and beauty.
Each woman is beautiful, and each offers her own complex ideas of beauty.
In Their Own Words
Precious Lee: “Because of love and support from my family, I’ve always known that I’m beautiful. …but I know there are girls who need to hear that.”
Rianne Van Rompaey: “I think it’s so beautiful how different everyone looks. I wish people could celebrate that.”
Hailey Bieber: “Everyone has insecurities. Just because people tell me I’m beautiful… that’s not how I see it, and that’s not how I feel all the time. It’s a continuous journey to love yourself.”
Liu Wen: “If all beauty looks the same, it’s not interesting. We just have to be ourselves.”
Adwoa Aboah: “The other day my sister reminded me of a photo, and I remember feeling really stunning. It had nothing to do with external validation. I felt beautiful because I felt happy.”
Read the entire interview with each here.
The common thread in their words is that beauty isn’t about how we look; true beauty is how we feel and showing up every day as ourselves.
In My Own Words
Beauty means something different to each of us, and what we find beautiful varies. Therefore, it can’t be one thing, one look, one style, one idea. Beauty is a collective.
Beauty is your mind – what things are you contemplating?
Beauty is your actions – what are you doing for others and what good are you doing for yourself?
Beauty is your soul, your essence, your energy – what kind and loving things are you putting into the world?
Beauty is not created on the outside. Think well, be kind, give love and create good things. Then, you are beautiful, incredibly beautiful.
Is a “beauty” label necessary?
Does it matter whether we label ourselves as beautiful? Perhaps not. If “beautiful” does not feel available to you or if it feels false to you in some way, find something good that resonates with you. I am ____. Fill in the blank. Here are some ideas: courageous, powerful, giving, loving, worthy, smart, innovative, energetic, fun, kind, empathetic. Feeding your mind good words is just as important as feeding your body healthy foods and drink. A healthy mind and a healthy body are beautiful together!
Your Beauty Challenge
Train your eyes and your heart to find beauty in everyday things, in others and in the world around you. It’s there in abundance. As you are seeking beauty in everything around you, my hope is you will begin to see your own unique beauty. It’s there. It has always been there.