I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about what it means to be beautiful.
Mainly because I haven’t been feeling it.
Grief really takes a toll on one’s appearance. I look at myself in the mirror, and I just look tired, exhausted, frazzled. The circles under my eyes appear darker at every passing moment. No matter how much makeup covers my face, I can still see grief lurking underneath. “Your eyes say so much” my coworker tells me.
While browsing the internet yesterday, I decided to look up the word beautiful.
Merriam-Websters Dictionary defines beautiful as:
1. “having qualities of beauty: exciting aesthetic pleasure”
2. “generally pleasing”
I was disappointed with this, so I clicked on the link below that read, “see beautiful defined for English-language learners.”
Aha, I thought. This could be interesting.
It read: “Learners definition of BEAUTIFUL:”
- “having beauty: such as
- very attractive in a physical way
- giving pleasure to the mind or ones senses.”
I then decided to look up beauty.
Beauty is defined as being (1). a combination of qualities such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses: a combination of qualities that pleases the intellect or moral sense.
I felt myself wanting more, so I grabbed Glennon Doyle Melton’s copy of Love Warrior and turned to a passage I had underlined in Chapter 15.
The underlined passage read, “beautiful is being full of beauty.”
Full . . . of beauty.
“Beautiful is not about how you look on the outside. Beautiful is about what you’re made of. Beautiful people spend time discovering what their idea of beauty on this earth is. They know themselves well enough to know what they love, and they love themselves enough to fill up with a little of their particular kind of beauty each day.”
I thought about this particular kind of beautiful last night as I stepped onto my yoga mat.
This, I thought, is what makes me beautiful: this is one thing that fills me up with beauty.
I know myself well enough, I thought, to know that I love yoga. I do it for no one else but myself. I love yoga because it’s a practice, and some practices go well and some practices don’t – just like some days go well and some days don’t. I love yoga because it’s a space where we are encouraged not to judge ourselves, but rather, love ourselves and thank ourselves for practicing.
I love yoga because, believe it or not, I am not naturally flexible, and have to work very hard at it. But, when I do find that extra inch of length in a stretch or pose, I am amazed by my body and that makes me beautiful.
There are other things that fill me up with beauty:
- Dancing: whether choreographed or unchoreographed.
- Writing and sharing my words with other people & knowing that, in sharing, I helped someone else feel less alone.
- Feeling sunshine on my face and having sand and salt water in my hair.
- Drinking hot tea after a long day and curling up with a good book in bed.
- Talking to another human being and feeling that I am as much of them as they are of me.
It seems simple, but it’s amazing what you start to feel when you “un-learn” society’s expectations of your beautiful and you start to re-learn your own idea of it. It’s not like I haven’t always known that beauty’s not purely based in aesthetics, but the idea of myself sure did change as I started naming all the things that filled me up with beauty.
Here I am, a new English language learner.
I love this new outlook on what it means to be beautiful. I love that it not only makes me feel beautiful, but that it makes me want to soak up other people’s beauty: people’s art, people’s music, people’s craft – whatever fills them up, I want to fill myself up with it.
My friends, what is your beautiful? What fills you up with beauty?