real beauty sketches

When I was a shy 14 year old, a woman at the music camp I attended sat me down and told me I had a beautiful smile, a smile that would light up a room if I’d let it. She doesn’t know it, but she greatly impacted my life in a single compliment. For the first time, I understood that others saw me as more than a musty piece of art to be critiqued – I understood that my appearance could not be captured in a flat image, that I was capable of revealing something beyond physical beauty in the features of my face, and that the hundreds of expressions I chose to contort my face into had an impact on my level of attractiveness. I wasn’t always able to hold onto that truth when the day had been difficult and the stress breakouts lingered on, but it’s stuck with me for a decade.

At this stage, I think I have a fairly positive opinion of my appearance compared to many women. That being said, I’ve had moments of incredible melancholy (or is it melodrama?). I remember sobbing on the floor of my parents’ room after a particularly bad acne breakout and the subsequent havoc I wreaked on my face in an attempt to pick and scrub the flaws away. I convinced myself that I would be happy when my acne went away. My skin has cleared up significantly since then, but there’s always something else to pick at or whine about.

I didn’t anticipate that this video would impact me as much as it did. It’s important that it has nothing to do with styling or makeup or contouring. It’s about self perception versus the perception of regular people who have nothing to gain or lose by describing someone as they see them. As a result, they see through sunspots and acne and laugh lines and begin to search for the physical signs of character, kindness, and love.

There are so many blog posts on self love that I was hesitant to post on the subject myself. But the issue I have with the type of self love promoted by (many) beauty and fashion bloggers is that it remains superficial. Sure, there’s value in looking at myself and saying, “You are beautiful.” But there’s greater and more lasting value in looking at myself and saying, “Your face is fine, but what does your heart look like? What are you doing to reveal love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control in dimples and laugh lines and ruddy cheeks? Or, are you conveying sadness, anger, and jealousy in scowls and frowns and furrowed brows?”

Because character counts when it comes to beauty. It counts for more than we realize. And simply telling myself I’m a good person doesn’t make me one. I am beautiful because I’m taking steps toward making my heart beautiful, toward helping others see beauty in themselves and in the world around them. And if those statements are true, others will see my beauty, too.

The women in this video are perceived as beautiful because their surveyors see humility and goodwill in their mannerisms and hear kindness in their voices. Any physical flaws fade to the background.


I am not enough.

I know this to be true. The struggle of the quest to be enough is that it has no blunt ends or signposts or sections in the dictionary.

Enough : being what you need to be and nothing more.

But context is the final definer of the lines around enough and that story rests largely in my perception, my point of view.

I am not enough, I say, because I want to be more. Need is not a good enough end.

And here grace steps in, shaking her head, drawing a circle in red chalk in the center of the blacktop street – telling me firmly to Come In!

I step into the center, see a single word scrawled in bold block letters beneath my feet.

It says, Enough.