Thursday, August 5, 2010

Guest Post: The Girl in the Mirror - True Beauty School

I'm excited to introduce my dear cousin Hannah. Okay, fine, she's really my husband's cousin, but I'm claiming her. She is an inspiration to me. She is raising three wonderful girls and yet still finds time to be a productive and amazing person. You can find out more about Hannah by visiting her blog Lily and Thistle. She also has the most adorable line of custom paper dolls that you can check out here. Enjoy!

Girl in Mirror by Norman Rockwell

We've all been to "Beauty School" in one way or another haven't we? For me and most of us, beauty school started as long ago as elementary school, maybe even sooner. It seemed every story we read or movie we watched, the heroine/hero was beautiful and kind and the villain/witch was ugly with crooked teeth and warty skin. So naturally I assumed all "pretty" people were good and all "ugly" people were bad. I unconsciously learned that I needed to be pretty to be good, worthwhile. I knew I looked "pretty" after my mom braided my hair because my mom always told me so. I knew the ladies on the Miss America Pageant show were "beautiful." When I overheard the kids taunt the "fat girl" at school or when I went to my neighbor friend's house and saw her mom working out to Jane Fonda with her diet soda right at her side, I knew being thin was very important too. 

Beauty School studies seemed to get more intense as I got older. During high school, Seventeen magazine was delivered to my door every month full of pictures and products to help me reach the "ideal beauty." Some of the boys at school seemed to know just what areas I was self-conscious about and tease me and some of the other girls. My older brother would chant "fat legs, fat legs" whenever I wore shorts. This was the ultimate in put-downs. I stopped wearing shorts.  

I was lucky though, for every negative voice, I had at least twice as many voices telling me I was a "Daughter of God," an "Eternal Being," with divine worth.  On sundays I was surrounded by other young women who were real friends and were learning the same things.  Along with Seventeen magazine, a magazine called The New Era came to my door. The stories in this magazine helped me see past all of the beauty "ideals" and to think of beauty on a deeper, more meaningful level. I was lucky to have parents who, for the most part, confirmed the things I was taught at church. Most of the time, when I thought of a "beautiful woman," it was usually one of my church leaders.  

Beauty School is still going on for me today but I believe I am in the graduate program and the school is now called "True Beauty School." I am realizing that the more I live and learn the more I can see true beauty. I think of the beauty of my body that gave us three amazing baby girls. I think of women who have survived cancer or who have been scarred or disfigured by accidents but whose beauty almost overwhelmingly shines through.  I've realized that beauty is a VERB.

to download and print, please visit me here

I wonder what my daughters' perception of beauty will be. I know they will receive many mixed messages and be exposed to a lot. I know I have a huge responsibility to guide them. I hope that my voice will be one that will confirm the divine nature that each of them has. I hope that my guidance will be the kind that leads them to serve and look outside of themselves to help others but to also be comfortable in their own skin.  

 I still forget once in a while who I really am and can get caught up in things that really don't matter...we are all still "girls in the mirror" aren't we? It's so important that we face our unfinished beauty school business so that the next generation of girls will be strong enough not only to see the real beauty in themselves but cultivate the real beauty in others. We don't have to do it alone...we just have to stay enrolled in True Beauty School. 

1 comment:

Britta said...

I loved that! I think the same thing with my own girls. I know that if we continue to teach them and be a good example to them of "true beauty" that they WILL be beautiful from the inside out.