Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What Defines Beauty

Jen over at Denton's Sanatorium has given us another writing assignment : identify the one physical feature you possess that you would define as beautiful, or that makes you unique and, therefore, beautiful.
I've been thinking about this all week, and searching the mirror each morning trying to decide.  I found it sad that when I was young and truly had some features that were beautiful, I failed to recognize them.  I was always too fat, my hair wasn't straight enough, I wasn't photogenic, I wasn't blonde.  Looking back on old photographs I recognize a pretty girl that I didn't appreciate half enough, and so she never had the confidence that would make her truly beautiful.  Instead I would often try to fade into the background, at the same time wanting desperately to be noticed.  And I'm sure I did get noticed, but the tragedy was that I just assumed I wouldn't be.
Fast forward forty years or so.  Looking at myself in the mirror today, I can still recognize my old self, although features have sagged, gone double, widened, or just lost their luster.  My hair, which used to be the bane of my existence, is now one of my favorite features.  I've come to appreciate hair that has waves, and has lots of body.  Sadly, it's also gone quite gray, so I give it lots of help every four weeks at the salon. It's one of my better features, but because its not quite "true" I can't consider it my best.  I like my eyes too - they've always been a standout feature.  They are large, and, while my eyelashes aren't as luxurious as they used to be, they're still long enough.  My eyes are brown, and I wear green contacts.  The effect of the two combined makes them kind of extraordinary looking and I get a lot of compliments.  But, because they aren't really that amazing color, I can't totally consider them my best feature.  I have to interject here, however, that I think I deserve an "A" for effort in getting good results working with what I have left after 57 years.
My poor body has not fared all that well.   I'm overweight and at this stage of the game I'm having a very hard time losing it.  I have a chronic disease that prevents me from working out as hard as I probably need to.  I can't tolerate a lot of pounding like running or kick boxing, etc.  So for me it's walking, yoga, and swimming.  I'm at least 2 sizes bigger than I'd like to be, but I'm doing the best I can.  There are times when I yearn to be that size I was in my 20's, but mostly I've learned to be more accepting of myself - to give myself a break and some permission to continue to live and enjoy my life even though I'm not that perfect size 6.
So what is my one feature that I take particular pride in?  I would have to say my skin.  My mother takes exceptional care of her skin, and she taught me to.  I have no doubt that we were blessed with good skin, but the good care has paid off.   I have few wrinkles, and rarely get blemishes.  (Now watch - I'll get a big zit tomorrow just to teach me not to be so proud!)  I did have a bout of bad skin when I was in high school - I think that's why I treasure clear skin now.  I can go without makeup pretty easily, and most people don't think I'm as old as I am.  So yes - that would have to be my feature that sets me a little apart and gives my confidence a little edge.  But I can't take all the credit - I come from a line of women who have pretty skin:
My mom here is 80 - look at that glow!  And she has those high cheekbones which I've always coveted...*heavy sigh*  (Let's not go there now...)

And then there's the woman who passed it along to us:


Yep, folks - that's what 99 looks like in my family...

And hopefully I'll pass it along to my daughter and her pretty girls.  

photo by Heather Anderson of TenderShootz

But the thing is, while I enjoy having good skin, pretty eyes, nice hair - whatever it is that's behaving for me on any given day - what I like best of all is that I'm not obsessed with it like I was at 18.  I've learned that it's easy to miss out on the best of times if I fuss too long with my hair, or if I can't go out of the house without makeup.  Good times don't wait on having perfect polish on your nails, and they definitely don't have any patience for not joining in the fun because you've gained a pound or two.  So I've learned to be forgiving of myself.  My body, my face, my appearance won't always be perfect or beautiful.  But what grandchild ever remembered how gorgeous their grandma was?  They remember that Mema always had time to play fairy castle, bake cookies and make them the most important little person in that moment.  That takes confidence folks - to go out in public with no makeup or flat hair.  But confidence is that elusive quality that perhaps makes us the most beautiful women of all.

13 comments:

  1. I love it, you were able to think of three pretty qualities even though the assignment was one-Lucky girl! WIsh I had the good skin gene. I have the gene, but for some reason it didn't show up, lol.

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  2. Karen, I think your assessment is perfect...good hair, beautiful skin, nice eyes...but you forgot -a killer smile and over-all glow of sweetness that puts it all together in a wonderful package! You ARE a beautiful woman in every way!

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  3. Having met you in person, I can attest to the fact that you are a good-looking woman! (Just like your mom and grandmother before you...)

    I loved reading this post. Jen comes up with some good topics, doesn't she?

    =)

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  4. First of all, thanks for stopping by and the kind words.

    You did a great job with this post. I like the angle you took with it. And you DO have beautiful skin. Holy cow, your Mom does look amazing for her 80's. I wish that would be me at that age.

    And...you're right, confidence really can make us more beautiful.

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  5. Thanks, Karen. Glad you linked up.
    And I echo Sue. Having hung out with you in person, you are quite a gorgeous lady. I would kill for skin like yours!
    And hair, for that matter!

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  6. I love how you came at this topic from a whole different angle- so insanely creative you are. (sorry yoda possessed me for a minute)

    I'm so glad that you know what your grandchildren will remember- the time you spent with them and the games you played and the cookies you bake. I still remember my grandma's apron she wore when she baked with us- pockets full of chocolate chips and raisins placed just right for little hands to get to. I loved spending time with her!

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  7. You are beautiful! What a great post! It's so true how we fail to recognize the good in ourselves until it's gone or saggy!

    You need to give us your skin care secrets!

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  8. What a beautiful family..and the 80 and 99 year old hotties..whew! You are a beauty and I'm so with you when it comes to thinking back and not appreciating what we had in youth..obsessing over it and still not being satisfied..that's the best thing about being 57 (my age!)...not feeling like I have to be perfect..just be happy and loving. (however, I would kill to get my body back!)

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  9. I have to agree with the comment above that you forgot your smile-it's really great! Your skin is amazing though. And, I would never have guessed your age from your photo. I think you are doing a great job looking beyond what you see on the surface, and you're right the confidence to go out of the house without perfect hair and makeup is a real gift. I have always been thankful that I feel totally comfortable in my skin & can go out with as little or as much fuss as I want, and still like who I *am*. I love the way you describe what your grandkids will remember, that's just who I want to be when I'm a grandma! Loved your post!

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  10. Thank you all for your kind comments. Several of you mentioned my smile, which I've never EVER considered. I'll have to give myself more props for that I guess, so thank you. Jamie - I wish I always felt comfortable in my skin, (and I so admire that you do) but I'm working on it. I've just learned to hold my head up, carry on, and act "as if" when things aren't perfect.

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  11. Oh Karen! I loved this post. What beautiful women you have in your family. I think it is so great that your Grandma lived such a long life, and so beautiful she is. Yes, you do have lovely skin and that is a blessing, believe me. I wish I had listened more to my Mother in law who had the most gorgeous skin in the world and she lived to be 96 without any wrinkles, believe it or not! She used to take what she called air baths every morning. She would brush her skin all over until it was red (her whole body) and then she would do her housework totally nude. Sue can tell you some really funny stories about Grandma Noyes. She came in the living roon once to meet one of Sue's friends from school in her garments, no bra or anything. Her friend was so embarassed that he left right away, but she was totally comfortable with him, sitting right by him. Poor guy, and poor Sue. Needless to say, he never came over to our house again.

    And yes, your smile is one of your best features, because when you smile, it lights up your whole face. I love your eyes too. All in all, you really are an attractive woman and no one would guess your age.

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  12. That's the most awesome story I've ever heard. Everyone should have at least one "character" in their family. And maybe we should all take air baths. That would wake our families up, wouldn't it?

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  13. Karen, I really appreciated hearing these words. I'm 34 and, like almost every other woman I know, I have also been guilty of giving myself a hard time. It's a great moment in our lives when we can look in the mirror and like what we see. Or maybe even not that. Maybe it's a good moment when we can learn that what we see is not that important. :)
    p.s. I started writing this comment about 10 minutes ago but then I had to go make lunch. :)

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