What is pretty?

Pretty FlowerI’m a fairly girly-girl.  I like makeup, I like dresses and twirling, I like doing things to make myself feel pretty.  At the same time, I’ll live all day in my workout clothes, happy in my sneakers after a long morning walk, or after a ride or swim.  But given my choice? Girly-girl.  Even so, I don’t actually feel pretty.  Yes, outside things make me feel that way, but deep down, do I think I’m pretty?  Well the truth is, I skirt the subject and don’t really think about it.

I’ve read those self-affirmation posts, articles, etc. that talk about self-image and loving ourselves as we are.  Often, there are suggestions such as, stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself, “I love you,” or, “You are beautiful.”  The mere thought makes my stomach knot.  I don’t know why but it makes me horribly uncomfortable.  If I push enough towards the truth of it, it’s likely that I have a hard time feeling that way about myself, self-doubt, or the feeling that someone else should tell me.  So, it never really happens.

But this weekend, I did think about it.  It was interesting really, thinking more about being comfortable with who I am.  Happy with my life and the direction I’m heading. And it led me back to thinking about what it really is to be pretty.  I think most women, if they’re honest, want to be told they’re pretty, early on by their parents, then later by boyfriends and husbands. I’m coming to realize though that, although it might feel good to hear that, if I don’t really feel it on the inside, the words wash over me without really sinking in.

What I think is that being pretty is more about who I am than how I look.  I’ve got wrinkles and grey hairs you can see and scars and wounds on the inside you can’t.  But if I truly care about myself and take care of myself as I believe God has called me to do, I really owe it to myself to allow feelings of being pretty, of living like I am beautiful.  That, I think, is part of being a good steward of the gifts God has given me.  He’s given me the gift, the ability, to let His beauty shine through me. So really, it’s less about me being pretty, or beautiful, and more about the beauty that comes from within from God.

That’s the beauty I want to seek.  The comfort in my skin.  The glow that comes from contentment. The radiance that results from true happiness.  The confidence that I am exactly who I’m supposed to be, that taking care of myself is what I’m called to do and it’s ok.  Ok to be a girly-girl, to like makeup and dresses and twirling.  So maybe that look in the mirror should be to say I love you and you are beautiful…because God made me, and YOU, that way.  I, for one, want to let that part shine.

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