Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What is Beauty?

I wrote this article almost five years ago. I ran across it today, and thought I'd share it with you. It's something that really helps me to read every now and then.


What is beauty? we all know what the “right” answer is – that beauty is found within, and that true beauty is in the heart and not in the outward appearance. That may be so, but it’s difficult to remember that when all around me, everywhere I look, I’m plastered with images of thin models, stuffed with collagen and silicone, with mysterious smiles on their faces that seem to say, “You can never be happy unless you look like me.” And what’s more, we believe them, absolutely. We buy the magazines, the diet pills, and we set out on our quest to be thin, equating it with happiness. But as hard as most of us try, we can never look like the women that
grace the covers of Vogue and Cosmopolitan, because we rarely stop to think that the women we see aren’t real. They’ve been airbrushed, touched up, and even if their body is as thin as it appears to be, it’s from the devastating results of restriction and starvation.

No, these women aren’t happy. Behind their fa├žade of fake, starved, and bought beauty, they’re masking a desperation and unhappiness so deep that they’ll do anything to fill the void. I know, for I have witnessed it and counted myself among them: girls smoking cigarette after cigarette before a fashion show to try to numb their hunger, telling me that they’re not sure what will kill them first: the cigarettes or the starvation. I’ve seen a long line of girls impatiently waiting for a bathroom stall so that they can empty the contents of their stomach before the swimsuit show – after all, you don’t want your stomach to stick out, do you? I’ve even witnessed my good friend cry on my shoulder because her 5’8”, 115 pound frame wasn’t deemed thin enough, tall enough, beautiful enough. No, that isn’t beauty. Nothing could be further.

What I wish more than anything is that women would begin to get a glimpse that beauty is found in the curves God has given us so that we can carry and bear children. That beauty is found in laughter shared between friends, or memorable moments shared among sisters. Beauty isn’t merely attractive or ugly – there are many shades or gray in between. And in that gray, that imperfectness, that is where real beauty is found. Beauty that can fill you and make you happier than any number on a scale could ever bring you. Perhaps, then, that is the beauty we should search for – an inner peace that radiates beauty.

Beauty isn’t achieved through the thoughts, opinions, and validations of others. Beauty can be achieved in any shape or form, because it is possessed by all. It’s only a matter of uncovering it. Wishing for real beauty, without even an attempt to create it for yourself, or looking for beauty in the pages of a fashion magazine, will with certainty lead you down an unhappy and destructive path. I believe that real beauty can be summed up in one word: contentment. And if you are content, then you are the most beautiful person in the world.


Emily said...

Very true, and beautifully written.

KC Elaine said...

may I use this for a zine? I guess you of all people would know that beautiful models aren't necessarily happy...

alana said...

brie, this is such a fabulous piece! thanks for being as beautiful on the inside as you are on the out. i'm glad we're friends! :) ps... we need to CHAT!!!

Laurie and Corey Kunz said...

have you ever thought about publishing this?

Bowles Family said...

awesome article. Every single woman out there needs that kind of pick-me-up reminder every once in awhile. i hope that lots of people get to read this!