Beauty is in the “I” of the Beholder
Four months ago, I became a mom. Honestly, it’s still a little weird saying that out loud. I find myself walking through the grocery store or sitting at a stop light and suddenly stopping mid-breath. It’s these unexpected times when it hits me: I have a daughter. Still a very strange realization for me. Any mom will tell you how magical, how life-altering this experience is. How you will never experience a love like this for another human being. Yes, yes, that is so very true. But what I wasn’t prepared for, what isn’t necessarily spoken about all that much, is the intense sense of protection a mom feels from a very early point. I’m not talking about the type of protection that guarantees basic life essentials – shelter, food, safety. I mean protection from the harsh criticisms that are used effortlessly all day, weaving in and out of internal thoughts and outward conversations. Thoughts on face shape. Forehead length. Thigh gaps. Skin complexion. Hair texture. Wrinkles. Cellulite. Height. Jean size. And how these judgments somehow represent the person you are. Somehow, these proportions provide you with a ranking in society.
I remember seeing her for the first time here:
Talk about stopping mid-breath. How in the world is she not beautiful? And yet, I really had no idea what she actually looked like. The beauty I saw was about something much more than skin color or hair or eyes or face shape.
I realized the same is true for us–our beauty can’t truly be seen when simply looking in the mirror or by knowing what we look like. With this perspective, it made me think. What do I choose to see when I look in the mirror? What do others see when they look at me? And further, What does my daughter see? Does she see the crease lines around my eyes that are getting more defined by the day? The mascara I use to make my eyelashes fuller? My ghost-white skin color in the winter?
Or the glow in my eyes that tells her she’s loved?
Or the familiarity in my smile that tells her she’s safe?
Or the laugh in my voice that tells her she’s special?
Because really, that’s all I care about. I care so deeply that she feels loved and safe. So, why should I feel any differently towards my peers or colleagues? At what point did it become at the utmost importance for others to appreciate my looks over my being? These thoughts make me think of the following quote by Boonaa Mohammed:
If the whole world were blind, how many people would you impress?
Interesting. With my appearance out of the picture, what beauty would rise to the surface? Looking at it this way, it makes it easier for me to see myself as my daughter does. And maybe the rules don’t have to change for us as we get older. Maybe we can cut the ties of physical beauty and beauty of the soul.
After all, no appearance in the world can come close to the beauty of a beating heart.
You are not your body,