I am guilty as charged. I have tried to lighten, brighten, darker and tighten. I have pulled, poked and prodded. I have been convinced that I was too short and that I should have, and still might, grow an additional 3 inches. I have tried to,"define my style” which on any given day could be described as ‘what’s on Target clearance’, casual or sweatpants/t-shirt. I have, at least twice, tried to drink some awful mixture of celery, lemon juice and pepper spice to detox and cleanse. Such is the pursuit of “beauty.”
It is ironic then that those things and my focus on them can look very ugly.
Working around kids and in a community where $80 facials aren’t an option makes vanity, well, less vain. When you’re worried about your livelihood, stray hairs don’t matter. When nutritious meals can be hard to come by, the numbers on a scale are obsolete. When you tell the girls here they are beautiful you better be careful how hard you are on yourself. And these girls are beautiful. Each and every one of them. Before you roll your eyes and imagine me singing kumbaya around a camp fire, let me explain. Their smiles. Megawatt smiles light up powerless days and their laughs spread across dark nights. Their hair, especially when undone is so fantastically curly you can’t help but smile. Their souls. I know they are young but already, they have such beautiful souls.
I tell them often that they are beautiful and many times, they shake their head and say, “no, I’m not.” I am flabbergasted. They obviously don't see what I see. And don't we do that too? I can deflect a well timed compliment through silence, objection or denial, like a pro. When did our definition of beauty become so basic and unimaginative? When did I turn my focus to avoiding “fine lines and wrinkles” instead of striving to have a good heart and soul? It just seems so important sometimes, this whole beauty thing.
Really though, if we were all, “fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) , “in the image of God (Genesis 1:27),” who am I to say He got it wrong? While this dashes my dreams of being 5"8 like the rest of the lovely women in my family, it also means that I can work on accepting my appearance; strengths and weaknesses. It means I can focus on taking care of the body I have instead of trying to create a new one. And maybe, most importantly, I can model a healthy body image to the young and growing girls here. To get to the heart of the matter, beauty is more than skin deep.