I believe that true beauty is perceived, not by the eye, but by the heart. Certainly our eyes play a part in perceiving beauty, especially superficial beauty, which is subjective, but also influenced by our cultures and societies. Take women, for example, often cited for their beauty of face and form. One society perceives a thin but buxom woman with blonde hair as the epitome of beauty. Other societies may regard tattoos and piercings as beauty attributes, or see women of ample size as more desirable than the thin ones. But superficial beauty is fleeting, while true beauty remains with us forever.
We often buy into what is considered the latest beauty trends, buying fashion magazines and trying to meld ourselves into the models we see on those glossy, colorful pages. I grew up in the 1960’s when models were pencil thin (remember Twiggy/) and the flip was the hair style of the day (Mary Tyler Moore, for instance). With my naturally curly hair I was about as far from the flip as a girl could get. But did that stop us curly tops? No, we ironed our hair and used super large rollers with big metal clips to beat our curls into submission over night. All in an attempt to present beauty to the eye of our beholder. In this case, the beauty was not subjective, but pressured, by an outside influence to achieve what was accepted as beauty. By the time I met my husband, I had abandoned my attempts at superficial beauty, and my curly locks did not interfere with his proposal..
As far as beauty in natural things like sunsets and puppies and the twinkling of stars on a frosty winter’s night, beauty is in the eye of the beholder who takes time to notice and appreciate all the beauty the world has to offer. Too many of us fail to behold the beauty found all around us.
But true beauty is perceived by the heart of the beholder and unlike the superficial variety, it is evident when we are looking our worst, but doing our best. A mother laboring to give birth, a friend undergoing chemotherapy, with bruised eyes and no hair, yet strong in the true beauty of her spirit and determination. Or the soldier wounded in battle, facing life without an arm or a leg. To be and to behold beauty, one doesn’t have to mold oneself into a fashion icon. I behold beauty in people living each day with pain, or chronic illness. I see beauty in persons facing death with grace and resolve. I see beauty in people who are, at the core of their heart,capable of beholding the beauty in others, of cherishing them and valuing them.
My mom is 91 and has battled breast cancer twice and now is in treatment for lung cancer. She has endured a variety of surgeries, including two mastectomies. Her body is a battlefield, its scars and sutures her badges of honor, They represent how true beauty reveals itself – not in physical perfection but in the strength and courage to meet life’s challenges. It is this true beauty from within that touches the heart of the beholder.
My mom looks at her body now,and is sometimes disheartened by what she sees in the mirror. But I tell her, that’s not what we see. .Our hearts behold the way she make people smile, the way she is ready to lend a hand, and fight the blues that come to call. We see a parent who made our childhood special, who comes to our aid when we need her. To the heart of this beholder, she is true beauty, truly beautiful to me.