The skinny girl looks at herself in the mirror. Her lips are chapped; as she licks them she finally sees what her parents have been telling her for months. As she lifts her arm it looks like a stick that could easily be snapped. Her chest bones stick out noticeably and as she turns around she sees each individual bone running down her back. “Will I ever be able to match the world’s definition of beauty? Is this what beauty is. Is beauty only found in appearances?”
The skinny girl swings on a swing in the park. She sees a mother bend down next to her disabled daughter in a wheelchair. The mom points out a butterfly on a flower near them, and the love and compassion in the mother’s eyes are beautiful as she talks to the little girl. She treats her as though she is the most important person in the world. “ Is this what beauty is? Is it being important to another person?”
The skinny girl stands in front of a picture at the art museum with her class. “Wow!” she thinks to herself. There’s something so beautiful in the simplicity of the piece of art. It appears simple yet a story could be told from it. “I think this is beautiful…Is this what beauty is? Is it found in simplicity?”
The skinny girl walks down the street and sees a man in a business suit kneel down to speak to another man who is sitting in a cardboard box. The homeless man’s hair is tousled, his hands are grimy. His meager clothes are threadbare and the day-old growth on his face makes him almost unrecognizable. Yet the man in the suit reaches out his hand to touch him as he talks to him. There is beauty in that gesture. “Is this what beauty is? Is it found in compassion?”
The skinny girl walks along the shore and looks out on the ocean where the waves are building up into a crescendo and then breaking on the shore. Something inside of her moves and she identifies with the sea. She thinks to herself, “Is this really beauty? Have I been building the world’s version of beauty only to have it crash down on me like the waves? Why am I trying to reach the unattainable goal of perfection in my outside appearance when the Lord has already formed me perfectly?”
The skinny girl thinks back to the mother talking to her daughter, the art telling a story, and one man reaching out to another. Growing up it has always seemed that beauty is an appearance - something that you are or you aren’t – something that you have or you don’t. But now she sees things differently. Her eyes are opened to the beauty that surrounds her. She has seen a beauty that came not from the appearance but from within; from a deeper place- from the heart.
The skinny girl sets her pen to paper and opens a window into her thoughts. “Why am I trying to reach this unattainable beauty- this perception that has been created by an unperceptive world- when I have been blessed with beauty all around me? Couldn’t I rather simply claim the free gift of beauty and be happy? Beauty is in everything around me. So, what is beauty? It is not physical appearance. It is being sacrificially loved. It is the beauty of the story that His creation tells us every day. It is the love and compassion that we share with others and receive from others.
Knowing the Lord not only loves me and accepts me as I am but has created me and designed every last detail of who I am gives security and self-esteem to life. True inner beauty begins with God at the center of my life and grows outward. Just as my eyes are opened to the skin and bones perception of worldly beauty, so I see that true beauty comes from knowing God and being confident of being beautiful in Him.”
The skinny girl looks at herself in the mirror… and smiles.