What is Beauty?

Beauty is something I struggle with all the time, and since I am writing a show about it, I would love to hear what your thoughts are on beauty. Do you feel beautiful? Did you always feel that way? Were you told you were beautiful as a child? Are you told you are beautiful now? How does it make you feel? Do you tell yourself you are beautiful? Do you tell other people they are beautiful? These are all tough questions.

I feel beautiful now because I try to tell myself that I am, and then since I bring it up, other people tell me that I am. One time, when I was at the airport, there was an older man, who seemed a little off…not homeless, because there are rarely homeless at the airport, just kind of ‘off.’ He had a big ceramic button on his lapel of a white sheeted ghost with a word balloon that said “BOO!” and it was nowhere near October. There was just a look of untuckedness to him – shirttails out, very very wide corduroy, no laces in athletic shoes. A man coming undone. Like he had been shaken out somehow.

He stood behind me in line at the Southwest counter, and when I turned to face him he said, “Wow”… not “boo!” I said, “What?” and he took a minute. It was like he lost his bearings. Lost his breath. Lost his composure just slightly. Not in a scary way. Just a momentary loss of his personal cabin pressure, but the masks didn’t drop down. And he said, “Wow…I am sorry. You are just so beautiful.” I was really shocked. I wanted to turn around and ignore him. I wanted to run away. I wanted to be angry. But I also didn’t want to lose my place in line. So I said, “Thank you.” He wasn’t finished. He kept saying, “Wow. Yeah… Your face. It is beautiful. You are like… a sunrise.” And I didn’t say anything. And it was like that second we were frozen and I had to face my entire life of feeling ugly and hating myself and here was someone to say, ‘no you are not ugly at all. you are beautiful.’ And I was scared and mad and freaked out and flattered and wanted to cry and ignore it, and thank God I heard, “Next!” and I was able to flee into the safe arms of the gate agent and away from this scary man, so scary he had the word “BOO!” on his chest, who was telling me I was beautiful. But you know it stayed with me. That feeling of seeing someone knocked out by my beauty. Maybe is something Kiera Knightly feels every day. She probably gets sick of it. But it’s a rare occurrence for me. And it is nice.

7 Comments. Add To The Mix…

  1. I feel beautiful as a bear. You’ve said time and time again that bears are one of your favorite subcultures. It took me a long time to love my curves, crazy hair patterns all over my body, the huskiness of it all…but here I am, just 20 years old, and seeing beauty whenever I look in the mirror.

  2. It is so sad that being called ugly stays with us longer than those fleeting moments when we are told we are beautiful. As a teenager I was overweight and didn’t blossom until young adulthood. By then the hair loss started and I was haunted by the taint of being thought of as being 15 to twenty years older than I was – at that age, youth was synonymous with beauty. I gained weight again – and lost it – and gained it. Over the course of five years one very special man saw me through it all and thought I was beautiful every time he saw me. 160 lbs? Beautiful. 210 lbs? Beautiful. I, too, saw him in his ups and downs and was always smitten by him. Yes, I did marry this beautiful man – he obviously had good taste!

    We love you, Margaret!

  3. I have always thought you were a beautiful person. You shine inside and out. I was told most of my life that I would be pretty if I just lost a few pounds! I found a man that sees my beauty in my curvy bod. I did love Rick’s response, and could relate to how he feels. My hair isn’t thinning, but it’s gray and I’m only 44. I am so glad Rick found the happiness he deserves after discovering how beautiful he truly is.

  4. Something similar happened to me in a grocery store parking lot about a year ago. I was wrangling my cart into one of the “return carts here” spaces when a man who I had seen as I walked out of the store came up to me. He looked slightly crazy and slightly disheveled, but he told me, “You are so radiant. Just beautiful. You have light coming out of you.” I didn’t really know how to respond, and was a little worried that he was completely crazy and literally saw light coming out of me. So, I thanked him, and hurried back to my car. The entire drive home was spent contemplating what had just happened. It was nice to be appreciated, and I have to admit, I did feel a little bit more beautiful the rest of the day.

  5. I too was in the supermarket not long ago, when a young man bumped into my cart. I caught it and he turned toward me, apologizing, and stopped, his mouth wide open. He was not disheveled in the least, he looked like a totally normal young adult. He just stopped and stared at me, like I had descended from Heaven to answer his every prayer. I know I am beautiful, if I think about it, but it often takes an incident like this for me to understand that I am beautiful, rather than just know it. My boyfriend always tells me I’m beautiful, and he loves the parts of me that I am most self-conscious about. He loves my legs, when all I see is the stretch marks. He loves my hair, when all I see is my boring brown roots. I have come to realize that knowing I am beautiful and understanding that I am beautiful are two very different things.

  6. Do you feel beautiful? No, not really
    Did you always feel that way? No. I used to feel beautiful, but even then I lacked confidence.
    Were you told you were beautiful as a child? Yes. I often felt that that was the only thing that people noticed about me. It made me feel marginalized in a weird way.
    Are you told you are beautiful now? Yes
    How does it make you feel? Uncomfortable.
    Do you tell yourself you are beautiful? No
    Do you tell other people they are beautiful? Every chance I get.

    Incidentally, I’m a bellydancer too. I love it, but I can’t relate to it when other people talk to me about how it’s helped them overcome their body image issues. In some ways it makes it worse – costuming can be a nightmare!

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