Has anyone else noticed that when any social group or club talks about true beauty, they, of course, talk about being nice but being strong and not letting people walk all over you? They talk about being affectionate and loving but not to those who dislike the things you like. And what doesn’t make any sense, or any more sense than the preceding confusion, is that they talk about how appearances don’t matter at all as long as you’re beautiful on the inside; they conveniently have a perfectly proportional, tan, blemish free, polished model saying this.
Let’s break this quote down.
“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.”
I realize that some days we wake up and think, “I really don’t want to be nice today. I just want to be a grouch.” I’ve had plenty of those days; I mean, we’re all human. But what this is saying is we really don’t have to wear the finest shade of CoverGirl lipstick to make our mouths or our faces look desirable. Honestly, when I witness a beautiful woman wearing lipstick being sour in her words, tearing someone else down in gossip, that expensive lipstick looks like nothing more than a mark of sidewalk chalk. Speaking kind words and having a kind attitude is one of the most inviting characteristics I have ever witnessed. Now, because I am a believer, I look at this quote from a Christian perspective. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 (ESV). How refreshing is it when you find someone who, whenever you’re around them or conversing with them, makes you feel at peace, who imparts and exerts selfless grace upon you without even knowing it? While Jesus is obviously the only One who can give perfect unblemished grace to anyone, there are some among us who truly have attractive lips because of what they say and because of the kind and empathetic vibe they give off in a room.
“For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.”
It is incredibly easy to be nice and to love and to see the good characteristics in people who are generally upbeat, optimistic, and all around nice. It is incredibly difficult, however, to find something to like in people who are very dreary, melancholy, pessimistic, or mean. It is incredibly difficult, also, to see that most of us have been that person at least once in our lifetime.
Having lovely eyes takes work. Ever heard of, “beauty is pain?” Yup, that’s what I’m talking about. To have lovely eyes, you have to go beyond yourself, beyond your annoyances, your pet peeves, your preferences, and your comforts, to do something that no one else wants to do. When that not-so-pleasant person (because I like names, we’ll name her Fran) shows up, everyone else automatically moans and groans about their presence. Having lovely eyes in that situation means you have to deny yourself the temporary satisfaction of moaning along with the crowd. Having lovely eyes means that you have to step across Fran’s border of not-so-pleasant characteristics to see that she is really kind to animals; her beautiful blue eyes are all natural; though she may have an attitude problem, she’s really kind when she sees kindness in others. Having lovely eyes means looking at the good in others; having lovely eyes takes work, practice, determination; but we all know it’s worth it :).
“For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.”
Oh skinniness. You are a nasty, nasty, goal that so many women of the world are trying to reach. This is where I have to restraint myself from inflicting on the world my opinions of the skeletal image of perfection that society has pinned up for the female percentage of America to aspire to….but that’s not what we’re talking about.
ANYWAY! Many women want that slim, sleek, attractive figure that very few women actually have. However, when we constantly focus on obtaining this figure, we often freak out about the food we eat, the habits we adopt, the amount of exercise we participate in per day. But when you make being healthy or being skinny or being slim part of thinking about others, your unrealistic goal of perfection fades into fable, and you are suddenly surrounded by thoughts of making others more comfortable.
I love bacon. I really, really, obsessively love chocolate. So, when Gracie, my little sister, asks for a piece of my Hershey’s bar, it’s really difficult for me to say ‘yes.’ But when I do share this small treat with her, I feel much better physically, spiritually, and mentally. Getting into a habit of saying ‘yes’ to people when they ask for part of your food, or willingly offering your food to others, is not only good for your soul and your relationship with God, but it really is good for your body. Think about it; a Hershey’s chocolate bar is about 300 calories per bar. Say you eat one Hershey bar a day. You decide to get into the habit of sharing your daily treat with a co-worker. That’s 150 calories a day that you are shaving off, and you’re making someone else’s day better by sharing :). This, my friends, is a win-win situation. Granted, these people may not be the least of these, but it’s a start in the right direction. I’m not asking you to go clear out your fridge, drag it all to the middle of the Projects, and give it out to the starving people of the city…that would be very brave and very generous of you, but you don’t have to do that. I’m just asking you to share your sandwich, your sweet tea, your ice cream, your 8,000 calorie, fat-induced, apple-caramel-nut-chocolate-peanut-butter-whatsit with someone you see everyday. Try it…it’s one treat I think anyone would enjoy :).
“For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day.”
I love it when people play with my hair, especially when a little kid plays with it. Why? I have absolutely no idea. Having one’s hair played with is just one of those “life is awesome because” moments. I think little kids enjoy playing and styling women’s hair; they especially love how hilariously stupid you look when sporting their ridiculous hairstyles. They get enjoyment out of playing with your hair. For some people, having beautiful hair, in this sense, takes work, just like having lovely eyes takes work. Allowing a child, whose hands are probably sticky and covered with who-knows-what, to run their syrup-covered, saliva-soaked fingers through your perfectly straightened or curled or brushed hair is one of the most uncomfortable things you could possibly do. Having beautiful hair takes work. This act of kindness requires you to step outside of your comfort zone (yes, allow your bubble of comfort to be popped) and offer your hair to a small child to use as a play thing. It might feel weird at first and they might pull a little bit; they might even make pretend scissors with their fingers and act like they’re cutting it. But just like sharing that 300 calorie Hershey’s bar with a friend, letting a child run their fingers through your hair makes someone smile and makes you feel better mentally, physically, and, yes, spiritually.
“For poise, walk with the knowledge that you’ll never walk alone.”
For the last part of this quote, I had to look up the actual definition of poise. Poise, as defined by the Webster’s Dictionary for Students (co. 2007), means “the state of being balanced; a natural, self-confident, manner.” This hit home with me particularly because I…am…a klutz. My face is just naturally drawn to the ground; my feet just can’t seem to stay flat; my center of gravity constantly feels the need to be sure that gravity still works.
But how happy am I to know that it’s okay for me not to be balanced, at least not physically? How happy am I to be told that even when I fall flat on my face, I will have Someone there to pick me up off the ground? “Don’t laugh at me, my enemies. Although I’ve fallen, I will get up. Although I sit in the dark, the Lord is my light.” Micah 7:8 (GWT). Now, I am assuming, because of Levenson’s religious background, that “never walking alone” is referring to God’s presence, which is with us as believers wherever we are. How exciting is it to know that, despite our lack of poise and despite what poise the world demands of us, we have true, solid poise because we are walking with the One who is the base of all balance and all confidence? Forget the worry of falling over in those designer heels! Kiss that perfect model strut goodbye! We can walk in the eternally poise footsteps of God and be complete in Him rather than chasing after this exhausting world and its goal of bodily perfection!
Whew! We made it!
So, it’s not bad to be pretty; not at all. It’s not bad to not have any zits or to have a healthy, slim figure. But having these things should not be the true definition of beauty. When I look back on the breaking down of this simple quote, I realize that being attractive isn’t about you at all…it’s all about other people :). Speaking words of kindness requires you to speak so that others may hear and be comforted. Seeking out the good in others is building them up rather than tearing them down. You share your food with others, with those who are hungry. Letting a child touch your hair is giving them enjoyment. The last statement of never walking alone seems to be the only part that is even remotely about you. By walking with the knowledge that you’ll never walk alone, you let yourself have the security you need to be able to maneuver all of the other paths of attractiveness mentioned in the first four lines.
When it comes right down to it, being attractive and desirable isn’t about your appearance; it’s not about being strong or about being coarse or about being tough; being attractive isn’t about you at all…
It’s about others 🙂