Why I Am Not Beautiful

I took a picture of a friend yesterday during a church pool/pizza party. I didn’t notice until after I downloaded the photos her expression looked like a mixture of disgust and surprise, as if she just watched someone eat a bug. I emailed it to her, because I knew she’d find it just as hilarious as I did.

Much to my surprise, she made it her profile picture on Facebook. I wouldn’t have. Heck, whenever I see a picture of myself, I literally cringe. I hate seeing pictures of myself.

As my sister and I went through our mom’s stuff after she died, we found picture albums and many loose photos of us both as children and adults. My sister told me that she didn’t want even pictures of her when she was little.

It surprised me and made me think, why would both of us be so against photographs that it’s almost like a vampire to sunlight? Was there something in our past to make us think that we never were, nor ever would be lovely enough to photograph?

I looked back and tried to remember a time when someone of importance, such as our mother, told us we were ugly. There never was a time, but neither do I remember an incident when my mom told me I was beautiful.

It’s not to say she didn’t think we were at least pretty. She did tell us a few times, but — at least to me — thought it was her way of being kind, and that she may not have truly believed it.

She did tell me once that part of the reason she and her mom didn’t get along was because her mom expected my mom to be a great beauty, and she simply wasn’t. Mom then told me that she promised herself not to do that to her own children. What mattered to her was character, intelligence and strength. She pushed us to be the best we could be mentally. Intelligence and knowledge were king. And manners. Good manners was second to anything else (to which I frustrated her to no end).

I don’t regret my mom concentrated on those things, because they are far longer lasting than perfect skin, hair and figure.

Even though I was a tomboy growing up, there was always a little girl inside who wanted to be the beautiful princess. It would have been nice to believe that I was indeed beautiful at least once.

Maybe I wouldn’t be so inclined today to cower from the camera, and turn away in disgust when I see a picture of myself posted on Facebook.

But that’s not quite fair. I have no one to blame for my reaction to photos of me. It’s certainly not my mom’s fault. She gave me the best gift of all — the desire and will to be the best person I can be. I like who I am; inwardly I think I am quite beautiful. Outwardly, on the other hand . . .

Doesn’t matter. The people who know and love me don’t see the moles on my face, my thinning and graying hair or the fact my pants are getting too tight in the buttocks.

What does that have to do with my friend’s willingness to post a photo of herself with a facial-contorted expression for all to see?

Because she knows that those who know and love her will laugh with her. To them she is beautiful for not only making them laugh, but by being vulnerable. She’s showing off to the world her — oftentimes messy — humanness. She’s not above anyone; she’s just like the rest of us. It’s that courage that helps make her beautiful.

My mom was right to not push the importance of physical beauty on her daughters. It never lasts. But at the same time, I have no need to hide. None of us is without blemish or scars, nor should we expect it of ourselves, especially if we don’t expect it in others. To do so only separates us from everyone else.

By continuing to shy away from cameras and want to burn every picture of me, I may miss out on making someone laugh and to show someone like me it’s okay to be imperfect. In fact, those “imperfections” could be the very things that make me beautiful.

Still, if you happen to see a booger hanging out of my nose, please tell me!

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