A friend posted a picture on Facebook a couple months ago and tagged me. It was of me, her, and a friend of hers at a social event. I quickly untagged myself from the photo. Why? I wasn’t pretty enough in the picture. There was my friend, standing in a model pose, looking confident and cool. Her friend stood in a similar pose, tan and fit with a gorgeous smile. Where did they learn how to pose like that, I wondered? I looked like someone who tried to photo-bomb the picture. There I was, standing with my back and legs straight, my arms hanging at my sides, in a dress that might have been in style five years ago. Looking at the image, I felt like a middle-aged woman that was trying to fit in, wasn’t sure how to, and clearly wasn’t beautiful enough to be in the photo with the other two amazing women.
The word “beautiful” stuck in my head that entire afternoon, along with a mental image of that photo. The more I thought about that photo, the more I was angry at myself. Why? I was letting my perception affect me of what friends and society would think when they saw that picture. I was the one deciding I wasn’t pretty enough. I was worried about the superficial–the way I visually looked in one singular photo. I was comparing my looks to others (no one else was). I was disappointed in myself for untagging myself from that photo….because what is the definition of beautiful after all? And who was ultimately turning me into a beast in the picture? ME–I was the one proclaiming I wasn’t pretty enough to be seen. Instead of celebrating a picture of me having fun with my friend and enjoying our time at the event, I was more concerned what people would think about how I looked in that photo.
Who decides what is beautiful, anyway? Here’s what I think is beautiful: Beautiful is how my daughter gives me a butterfly kiss every night before bed, her little eyelashes rubbing against my cheek as she giggles and whispers goodnight. Beautiful is how my hand fits perfectly into my husband’s hand when we walk along together. Beautiful is when my oldest daughter slides into the back seat of the car after a cross country practice, sweaty and her ponytail a mess–but so excited to tell me how she rocked it on the trail. Beauty is in every thing, every person, every day, every minute, every failure, and every success. One picture or one event does not define beauty–it’s our life and how we choose to celebrate it and share it that defines what beauty is. We just have to look for the “pretty”–because it’s there even when we forget it is.
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