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Random Thoughts on True Beauty

Photo Credit: Creative Commons – Runway Fashion Magazine

The best part of beauty is that which no picture can express.
~Francis Bacon – philosopher

I love the confidence that makeup gives me.
~Tyra Banks – international super model

The two quotes above capture the spectrum of physical, human beauty.

The first alludes to a beauty that transcends physical expression, while the second implies a beauty that relies on an external facade to build up internal attributes.

The first is true beauty, the second is false. The first is inspiring, the second is actually quite sad.

Ironically, the only certainty of physical beauty is that it is subjective – not everyone agrees on a single, enduring standard of physical beauty.

While we see and recognize the enduring beauty of a panoramic sunset, the rolling surf or a majestic mountain – those constant standards of nature don’t necessarily translate to humans.

What was once beautiful by societal standards simply falls out of vogue over time and becomes boring.

One of the greatest, enduring cliches about beauty is that it “…resides within the eye of the beholder…” however I would challenge that assertion when it comes to true beauty. I’ve written about beauty before and the shifting sands of bias on which our society seems to be built.

True beauty, which is a lasting  beauty that endures and improves over time, actually resides in the eye of the holder – not the beholder.  The true beauty of the individual is a condition of the heart, not the skin.

My wife and I strive to nurture these concepts in the hearts of our daughters. Here are some of the points we constantly reinforce to them:

  1. Don’t fall into the trap of defining your worth by your outward appearance and physical attributes.
  2. Inner beauty is the only beauty that lasts.
  3. Don’t let false “beauty” standards established by society compel you to change and “measure up.”
  4. Celebrate your differences from others, that’s the spark of true beauty.

Whether these messages take root or not within our girls will manifest over time as they head into their teen years, but we want to instill  those ideas in them now.

Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.
~Saint Augustine – theologian

The following quote hits the beauty bulls eye.

The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.
~Audrey Hepburn – actress

Interestingly, that quote suggests that even though others defined Ms. Hepburn by here beauty, she herself did not let it be her defining value.

Question: Is beauty in the eye of the beholder, the holder or both? Why?


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  1. Kim Sickles says:

    We also work often with the concept of beauty in our home as we parent two 11yr old girls with very different looks (one blue eyed blonde and one with fair skin and raven hair) and very different personalities (shy/quiet/reserved and outgoing,carefree). Since locking them up in towers is no longer a parental option, we are forced to deal with television, internet, the community and other worldly influences on our daughters.

    We try to use the polar terms of beauty and ugliness in ways other than a physical description of a person or thing. For example ‘She has a beautiful spirit’ or ‘That child needs a nap, they are being ugly’. We use every opportunity to help the girls define themselves in terms of actions, not in terms of their reflection in the mirror.

    This is not an easy task as from a very young age children are surrounded by the concept of beauty. Think Snow White: Mirror, Mirror on the wall. Then, there is the fairytale concept that ‘beautiful’ people are sweet and kind while ‘ugly’ people are mean and cruel. *Bring on Cinderella’s step sisters or even today’s Lion King characters. Mufasa is handsome and wise while Scar is dark, disfigured and cruel. Sadly, this message is not lost on our children.

    *Stepping off my soapbox and going to work on the schematics of those towers….

  2. Bravo! Well said – and I LOVE that you are instilling these types of values in your girls – they will be so much more well adjusted and self confident as they grow older!

  3. I think so, but I really hate it when ability is decided by someone’s view of beauty.

  4. I think the best explanation of this behavior is our changing definition of “cute” which used to mean short, fat, and bowlegged!

  5. Real beauty is in those who see the individual and does not judge.

  6. Tammy Reniff says:

    This is my view on beauty:

    Pretty Kitty by Tammy Reniff

    Pretty Kitty wasn’t always pretty.

    She used to be ugly, nasty and rude.

    She was very mean and

    Had a bad attitude!

    When her mother asked

    Her to comb her hair,

    She would run away

    And hide under a chair.

    She would tease other cats

    And call them names.

    She always cheated while

    Playing kitty games.

    She had no friends

    And wondered why.

    Until one day she

    Started to cry.

    “What’s wrong with you?”

    Asked her Mother.

    “She deserves it!”

    Said her brother.

    “I have no friends!”

    Poor kitty cried.

    “No one likes me

    Because I lied.”

    “I called my brother

    A bad name.

    No one but myself

    To blame.”

    Poor kitty was so sorry

    For everything she did.

    She went back underneath

    The chair and hid.

    “Come back out”

    Her mother said.

    “I can help you.

    Let’s comb your head.”

    So poor kitty

    Came back out

    And tried not

    To cry or pout.

    “How can you help?

    I’ve been real bad.

    I made many kitties

    Feel very sad.”

    First Mom finished

    Combing her hair.

    Then she put

    Poor kitty up in the chair.

    Poor kitty still

    Looked very sad

    And deep inside

    Felt very bad.

    Then Mom helped her apologize

    To all the others,

    Including her sisters

    And little brothers.

    She practiced being

    Very polite

    And everything worked

    Out just right.

    Now poor kitty

    Felt much better

    And wrote her friends

    A thank you letter.

    Her friends forgave

    Her for being so rude,

    When they saw she changed

    Her attitude!

    On the inside

    Her beauty grew

    Until it started to

    Shine right through.

    Real beauty begins

    Deep inside.

    When you are good

    You smile wide,

    Helping others

    And being fair,

    And not running from Mom

    When she combs your hair…

    It shines inside

    Until it’s so bright,

    Others eventually

    See the light.

    From inside out

    The poor sad kitty

    Became beautiful

    And very pretty.

    You want to be

    A pretty kid?

    Just do what

    Pretty Kitty did.

    Beauty secret

    Number one:

    Play games fair

    To have more fun!

    Beauty secret

    Number two:

    Is a very

    Important rule.

    Be helpful and

    Kind to others,

    Including you sisters

    And your brothers.

    Beauty secret

    Number three:

    Is one that

    Everyone will see.

    Give greetings

    With a friendly smile,

    To keep your

    Fashion up to style.

    Follow these rules

    Without a doubt,

    And your beauty will

    Shine from inside out!

    • Tammy Reniff says:

      I wrote this for young girls about a year ago to show them that what’s inside is more important than what’s on the outside. I enjoyed reading your post and seeing the same type of message written to open the eyes of the parents.

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