Talk to the Mirror7:30 AM
When I was little, the height of beauty to me was pink lips, white skin and thick, golden curls sweeping to the feet - and then some. My princess had a round face, big blue eyes fringed with lashes and an irresistibly sweet smile eclipsed only by her irresistibly sweet laugh. It was influenced more by fantasy and Princess Aurora than by any woman, young or old, I had seen. But I looked for little hints and glimmers of my princess in the smiles, eyes and hair of the women around me. The blood connected to my mother quickened my heart, for she was (and is) beautiful and I can't blame my daddy for falling in love with her. And at least some of her genes had to have ended in my make-up, so there was at least some hope I would turn out pretty. Because, you know, that's where my princess hunt came from.
I wanted to be pretty, because pretty girls could afford to be almost whatever they wanted to be - nobody made a sour judgment of a beautiful girl at Wal-Mart, no young man would dare be too aloof in her presence for fear of losing her beautiful presence, popularity would never come to a shortage, for who would deny the beauty plainly etched all over her lovely face? At least, I wouldn't. And frankly, prettier girls just were more attractive. The pretty girls dressed pretty and acted pretty because they were and they knew it.
Never fear - it never dampened my own self-esteem. I hunted that princess because I was looking for ways to flatter myself. I found a smile my heart leapt at and I contorted my mouth in all directions when I got home. I glanced at a pretty girl and matched my eyes to her. The mirror hid all my practice at becoming pretty and I saw myself in all the prettiness around me because, of course, I was - or was going to be - pretty.
In reality, I was pasty-faced, mousy-haired, skinny and graceless (not to mention conceited...no comment). I cringe at some of the prissy airs I displayed in home videos, the sly, oh-so-stylish smiles I slipped to the camera, the rather failed attempts at looking prettier than I really was - for an eleven-year-old. It was not pretty.
I hardly dare tell you what the teenage years did to me.
Now, at almost sixteen, I am no less silly. I never let up on my pursuit of beauty. My tête-à-tête with the mirror grew longer and more frequent. I waved off all compliments of my beauty, fearing they were pitying insults skirting the truth in love. It's nonsense saying a girl's chief concern is to make others think she's beautiful. Her life purpose is to make herself think she's beautiful. Therein lies the chief end of Woman.
I know this whole beauty business is ridiculous. The thought goes, "Someday, when I'm ugly, I'll decide I'm beautiful; but now, when I'm beautiful, I'll just stick with being ugly, thank you very much." I've thought it myself - I think I almost believe it, too. But the whole princess hunt is fraught with danger - to the ever-fragile self-consciousness of a some-teen girl. There's no winning in this cycle:
Turn 1: Wake up, chat with the mirror and smile self-complacently. Who is that beauty in the mirror?
Turn 2: Wake up, chat with the mirror and wrinkle up the nose. Who let this crazy in the house?
On Turn Two, no amount of fashion and hair styles can fix that image in the mirror. It's just a bad day for being young and grown-up. I hate those days, because I lose on the princess hunt - and I never understand those days. How can one be ugly and pretty in the same body, in the span of a nighttime?
Then it hit me. Beauty is a feeling, like happiness, like anger. Ugliness is a feeling too. On those days when I am happy and content, when I haven't hung around the mirror gawking hopelessly, when I know I love and am loved - those are the days when pimples and pastiness don't bother me. On the other hand...those days when I'm red-eyed from crying, stormy-souled from conflict or hushed up with my own failings - those are the days I look into the mirror and pout.
I noticed the beauties were so because of their contentment and confidence rising to the surface, and the uglies because of their pettiness and pugnacity veiled only by thin flesh, however decorated. Self-consciousness, you know, is the ugliest mask of all. Smugness, too - ugly, both of them.
I think the most effective makeover for a beautiful complexion is a beautiful contentment - content with the way she was made, content with the God Who made her, content in the joy of other-centeredness...and none of this wretched business with mirrors.