For the last 10 years, I’ve spent an hour or more every morning doing my hair and makeup. I sacrifice precious sleep just to look refreshed and awake the next day. You would think I know what authentic beauty is, but unfortunately, I’ve been reflecting on the topic of authentic beauty for weeks and not much is coming to my mind.
What is it and why is it so challenging for me to write about?
There are a mess of words spread across my blogging notebook, but no clear definition is coming to my mind. Maybe all of the fumes from my dry shampoo and hairspray have finally made its way into my brain. Just kidding, I hope that’s not the reason.
While looking for inspiration, I find this quote. It reads, “You have more to do than be weighed down by pretty or beautiful. You are a fiery heart and a wicked brain. Do not let your soul be defined by its shell.”
Soon, the definition I had been searching for fell from heaven and into my brain.
Ladies, when did we start believing that beauty is just looks? I know that I started being influenced when I saw celebrities I look up to always looking their best. But what I failed to realize is that most of these celebrities have beauty teams – and Photoshop – that help them look flawless. I’m sure even Beyonce has her un-pretty moments when we aren’t looking.
As a young girl in middle school, where looks started becoming an issue, my mom often reminded me that a pretty face is nothing if you have any ugly attitude. Values such as compassion, grace, humility and laughter are far more important than just looks. Because of her reminder, I believe that when we mix all of the gifts that God has graced us with, they make up one amazingly beautiful woman – and that’s you!
Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong’o described authentic beauty best during her speech at the seventh annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon hosted by Essence Magazine. She said:
“…I finally realized that beauty wasn’t something I could acquire or consume, it was just something I had to be. What my mother meant when she said, ‘you can’t eat beauty,’ was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you.
What actually sustains us, what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion – for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul.”
Authentic beauty is God-given. We don’t need to try hard to be beautiful. We are all beautiful in our own way and when we fully embrace that concept, we start to attract others to explore their beautiful souls too.
A little makeup never hurt, but what’s important is our understanding that we are beautiful. What becomes even more beautiful is when, like Lupita said, we show compassion for ourselves and those around us. When we accept all forms of grace with a humble heart and laugh a lot. Those values in action are so beautiful.
I challenge you to write somewhere in your home an encouraging phrase like, “Good morning beautiful,” or, “Hello gorgeous!” Affirmations like these make our hearts grow with confidence. Authentic beauty starts with you. When you believe that you are beautiful, so will everyone else.
– image credit: Tiffany Von Noronha