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May 22, 2021

Let’s Redefine what it means to be goddamn Beautiful.

I have always wanted to be beautiful.

I can distinctly remember the first moment I saw beauty as a child.

It was when Cinderella walked into the ball. She was beautiful. Before that, she was just a girl who was forced to clean for her dreadful family. There was nothing special about her. But when she walked into that ball, everything changed.

From that moment, I had believed beauty was all about what we looked like on the outside.

I began to understand the concept of beauty in middle school. Beautiful girls were those with developed breasts, a snitched waist, who wore miniskirts and had fabulous long, straightened hair. Their faces were perfectly embellished with colorful makeup and trimmed eyebrows.

When comparing my undeveloped body, wavy-frizzy hair, and my makeup-free face to this standard of beauty,  I knew I wasn’t what other people, especially young boys, would consider beautiful. So I settled for a smaller label: cute.

For the longest time, I didn’t think that beauty was related to anything inside of us.

When people talk about that perfect glow, I assume that with the right shade of makeup, bronzer, some glitter, and the right weight according to our size, anyone could look like that.

But I now see that “glow” comes from loving who we are and living our lives freely. On some days, we might feel like curling our hair makes us shine, but on other days, taking that fearful step toward our dreams is what beauty looks like.

Beauty looks like shades of perseverance and faith.

Being beautiful is not about looking attractive or pleasing other people; it’s about those things that live on the inside and shine their way through. You might not always feel it when you look in the mirror; however, who you are is what makes you beautiful—it’s what makes all of us beautiful.

This is the true essence of beauty.

Consider these scenarios, for example, and how they each reflect a deeper meaning of beauty:

The mother at the grocery store with a baby on her hip and another child pulling at her leg might look like a hot mess. She hasn’t even brushed her hair! She closes her eyes for a second to take a deep breath. She calmly makes her way up and down each aisle. Her children begin to fidget and cry as she stops to wipe the tears away from their cheeks. But you see, her unconditional love for them pours from her soul. She is caring, protective, and ambitious. She might not look like it, but she is stunningly beautiful.

Or the single woman at the coffee shop who is sipping a cup of black coffee, waiting for her first date with a complete stranger. She looks nervous as she replaces the cup on the table to stop her hands from trembling. But although her heart has been broken a thousand times before, she still believes in love. Her vulnerability, hopefulness, and open heart are beautiful.

Beauty is that powerful woman who is exhausted after spending long hours at work. She comes home and sits in front of the computer, willing to learn. She dedicates time to a side hustle so she can have her own business and be free to live the life she truly wants. Her perseverance and courage make her extraordinary.

Or the businesswoman, with tears in her eyes, who stands in the alleyway behind her office building, trying to recompose herself. She looks frazzled and overwhelmed. Her ability to adjust her dress, walk back into that office, and stand up for herself shows confidence. She is strong, smart, and fierce.

My grandmother, who is older now, is still stunningly beautiful. She was the first person to ever tell me, “Do what you want; it is your life. You can make all your dreams come true.” Her skin is a reflection of her life and her experiences. That is beauty like no other, and it shouldn’t come with an age tag.

To hell with unrealistic expectations for beauty! Let’s redefine what it means to be truly beautiful.

Beauty is everything that we are.

If we feel like wearing makeup, we must do it for ourselves because we love how it makes us feel, not to look beautiful for someone else. As we age, wrinkles become a precious map of where our bodies have been.

When a woman shows strength, she is beautiful.

When our best friend is brave, she is beautiful.

When a vulnerable woman opens up with her fears and dreams, she is beautiful.

When a woman speaks up to normalize breastfeeding, she is beautiful.

Let’s recognize that caring for other people is more beautiful and far more trendy than any eyeliner would ever be. I’d rather wear honesty with my words than a perfect shade of red lipstick on my closed mouth.

F*ck standards that limit us, hurt us, and make us feel we should be someone else. Every goddamn woman is beautiful.

Look in the mirror. Can you see the connection between your skin and your heart? Do you see all the life your eyes have seen so far? Can you feel the warmth and love your body has given to others? All the kisses your lips have felt? I want you to recognize your resilience every time you thought an obstacle could stop you, but you continued anyway.

It turns out that Cinderella was f*cking beautiful all along. And so are we.

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Sharon A. DeNofa & Michelle Gutierrez

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