So what happened? What changes inside us? When does it become more beautiful to wear eyeliner and highlight your hair than simply to brush your teeth and (maybe) put on a clean pair of socks? When do the compliments change from "You're so beautiful" or "What a pretty girl!" to "Wow, have you lost weight?" or "I love what you did with your makeup - it makes your eyes pop!"
When does this happen? Is it an age? Does a switch get flipped?
I'm tired of spending money on clothes, but I have a fear that if I wear my favorite shirt (denim chambray) too many times in one month, people will think I'm ugly. And if I don't wear eyeliner (which I don't because I can't figure out how to do it without looking like I got punched in the face), I don't feel as beautiful as the rest of the girls around me. And if I don't dye my hair, or cut my hair, or curl my hair, or do whatever is going around on Pinterest, I won't be lovely.
And I realized today that this is something that I've learned, that we've all learned. I'm not sure where I learned it first.
Was it the 6th grade "Your shirt doesn't say Aeropostale across the front?!"
Or maybe it was music, because after all, the only song that my brownish-green eyes can relate to is Kelly Clarkson's sad breakup song "Behind These Hazel Eyes" while every other song is devoted to baby blues.
Or maybe it was the countless movies and TV shows that broadcast unrealistically gorgeous expectations of what girls, and guys, are supposed to look like. I mean, how can I watch Pretty Little Liars when Aria and Hanna dig through the dirt all night and still have better hair than me?
But somewhere in the middle of all of this, we learned what beautiful is, and we were taught that naturally we do not measure up.
So we change things.
Haircuts or extensions. Bleaching hair or shaving it all off. A sleeve of tattoos or makeup to hide every freckle. Beards or clean shaven.
And that's the biggest lie that we've learned to believe. That if we want to be beautiful, if we want to be handsome, if we want to be lovely, we have to change something.
But that's simply not true.
Some people think it's of the devil to wear any hint of mascara or wear any clothing that shows off your body. I grew up with the words "God made you beautiful just the way you are" and "Modest is hottest" repeated over and over.
Personally I thank God everyday for makeup to cover-up blemishes that I swear only show up on class presentation days or date nights. I also thank God for push-up bras so that I can pretend to have more than an A cup. (A cups in college? Seriously?)
But neither of those things make me beautiful.
I saw a girl coming out of Starbucks last week with her hair dyed redder than the Little Mermaid's. She looked so cool but that hair color didn't make her any more, or any less, beautiful.
Nothing you can do will ever make you more or less lovely.
I discovered a beautiful poem today, but one line really stood out:
"Sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness."
- Galway Kinnell
You're already lovely. I'm already lovely.
All the makeup in the world, all the hair dye, all the best clothes won't make you or I any more or less lovely.
I wish I could say something to make you believe it. And honestly, I wish I could believe it completely myself.
But after years and years of learning what to change or how to put on eyeshadow or what stores to buy clothes from, I think it might take more than just one passionate blogger to reteach the world their loveliness. But like the next few lines of the poem reads:
"To put a hand on the brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within"
So I'll just start with telling you. Telling everyone I see. You're beautiful. Not just your outfit (because next month it'll probably be out of style) or your makeup (because mascara only lasts so long before it dries up).
But you, me, we're beautiful.
Your blue eyes and my hazel ones.
Your button nose and my parrot one.
Your big smile and my tiny one.
Your short body and my tall, lanky one.
Your long hair and my short curls.
Everything in between.
We, with or without makeup, with or without hair dye, with or without new clothes, with or without piercings and with or without tattoos, are lovely. And it is necessary that we learn that.
Again, this blogpost came straight from my journal, which I wrote this in immediately after reading Galway Kinnell's "Saint Francis and the Sow".