Talk to the Mirror

7:30 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 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.

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12 impressions

  1. Ah Bailey :D When you were eleven and I was in that follow-you-around-everywhere stage, I was so envious of your blonde hair! -- And you were pretty when you were that age. :D

    (*gag* you liked Princess Aurora? She drove me insane - except for her that I watched that movie recently I nearly died because of her stupidity)

    Ugh, those days when you get up on the wrong side of bed - or when your hair has a rats nest in it because you forgot to comb it last night... :) Those days I do detest...


  2. Somebody said, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I don't recall having blonde hair or beauty at age eleven. I must have changed, no?

    Well, let's say I liked Aurora better than Cinderella.


  3. A very lovely and thought provoking post Bailey M''dear!


  4. Hi there Bailey, I think this is my first visit to your blog but forgive me if I am mistaken. I really liked the blog post you wrote-the end was perfect. Oh, and the name of your blog brings back memories of the series I read over and over when I was younger! =)

  5. Bailey,you won't take pity comments,but I can say how beautiful you are on the inside.After all God doesn't look on the outside.You're heart is very beautiful.And besides, in this day and age the world's definition of ''pretty'' is the ugliest thing I've ever seen.
    -A sister in Christ

  6. My dear, dear Bailey, I have a speech coming for you. You ARE pretty. Inside and out. In fact, I can't believe you don't have three bouquets of flowers a day from secret admirers. Your inner beauty is what I admire most. I have noticed how you play with the little kids on park days. I realize I tease you because you don't run around and do things with us. It's because you are acting more grown up and beautiful than any of us others. You have been almost like a big sister to me, instead of a little sister. You are so mature and I admire your love and obedience to your parents, moreover God. (Did I use that word correctly?) You are an example to so many people. I love you so much for your kindness and patience. I also admire how you obviously appreciate you own siblings. I have a gut feeling you are going to be a wonderful wife and mommy some day. Remember when you said you wanted to have as many kids as you could have a few years ago?
    Are we going to have a family like the Duggar's in Wisconsin?

    I love you so much, dear sister.
    I want to be a bride'smaid in your wedding. Please, can I? :-) OK, so it's a ways off. :-)

  7. Glad it provoked thought, Elissa! By the way, I must find out when exactly your birthday is so I don't miss it this year. :o)

    Elizabeth, a big welcome to you, then! I took the liberty to visit your blog and I loved your emphasis on Christ Jesus and encouraging others to follow Him. May you be richly blessed! (My middle name's Elizabeth...and I love the "Little House" series and the Steve Pettit team. Do you by chance know about Northland International University?)

    A sister in Christ, I am glad to call you so. You blessed me today. :o) (And I agree with your assessment of "prettiness" in this day and age. *shudder*)

    KT - ((hugs)) Of course you'll be a bridesmaid if that dreamed-of wedding takes place! I shall have lots of bridesmaids, due to all the wonderful friends and sisters I have. Now I only have to find a groom.

    LOL I would be happy with any number of children from 1 to 20. You're one of the bestest friends, Miss Kaitlyn, and I love you so much. (Keep up on the activity nagging, though...even mature, grown-up, pretty mothers-in-training need to run around sometimes. Unfortunately.)

    Girls, even though I have not been feeling unpretty lately (phew), I love each one of your hearts. ((Hugs)) to all.

  8. Hehe, my birthday was yesterday actually... but don't feel bad.. I can *NEVER* remember birthdays (I even have a hard time remember whether dad's is on the 3rd or 4th of Feb. :D)

    If my memory serves me rightly though... I have a feeling someone else's birthday is comin' up... I wonder who that would be? ;)

    Love you girl!!

  9. No. No. No. Are you serious? And I thought I had lapped the pack this time.

    Happy Birthday, then! Love you so much!

    Bailey, the Forgetful

    p.s. I forget my birthday too.

  10. Don't almost all girls fall into this trap at some points in their life?? That is so important to remember though... inner beauty is of the most importance. That's what will matter in eternity, and that's what people will remember. ~ Stacy

  11. I'm sure you never had real cause to worry about this matter, Stacy. I love your heart...and you're pretty, to boot. :o)

  12. As I was reading this, I got the "I Feel Pretty" song stuck in my head. ;)

    Bailey, you've heard this before, but I'll say it again- God has blessed you with abundant wisdom! It's amazing not only how you recognized the concept that we women base beauty on feelings, but it's also wonderful how you presented it. It was clearly stated and creative.

    I once read this book called "The Seven Attributes of a Beautiful Woman" and I think you would like it very much. It also talks about how beautiful contentment is.
    Love you!



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