“If you see someone without a smile, give them yours.” -Dolly Parton


I’ve given a lot of thought to how I look lately.  I see the lines creeping on my forehead.  It is hard not to when you see the big 40 coming up so quickly.  Less than 3 years, and I can’t say that I’m in my 30’s anymore!  My youngest child told me that I was beautiful, and as mother’s, we swoon for that praise our children give us.  Then, my teenager spouted off,  “All kids think their mom is beautiful.”  I wouldn’t say “all”, but he is right.  He had no clue of the mountain he had just spoken.  That is because children spend their lives looking at a mother’s face, and they associate it with unconditional love and sacrifice.  That is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen on any woman.  Ugly is a learned thought.

I am not sin free here.  I have had quite a few years to learn in this world.  I heard my dad make comments about a woman’s face or size.  I heard my mother do the same. Brothers, aunts, uncles, someone in line behind me at Wal-Mart who thinks a woman with a low cut shirt is hot.  The list could go on and on.  I remember being young and being a tomboy. I kept my hair in a ponytail.  I’d rather have been on a horse than in some beauty pageant.  My hero wasn’t Cinderella, it was Sarah O’Conner from Terminator 2: Judgement Day.  She was a super bad ass with those arms.

So, when my body filled out and boys started to take notice of me, I thought of myself as the ugly duckling turning into a swan.  People didn’t help.  To this day, every family get together or funeral, someone says to me, “You turned out so pretty!”  Bite me, I was never ugly.  I look back at the pictures of myself at 8 and realize that under that horrible sweater from 1990, I had the same face that I do now.  Anyone who didn’t notice, was judging me by my brown cowboy boots that I begged Santa for.

While I know that as a teenager, or even younger, there are things that I have said or done that have hurt others for the way they look.  I’m not defending it by saying that it is how society taught me.  I’m just explaining.  There are no real excuses.  Lesson learned.  Even when I didn’t say or do anything to someone, saying it to a friend or even to myself was wrong.

I think that I may have even judged myself the worst.  My frizzy hair.  My crooked fingers. My weird looking toes.  My post pregnancy stomach. I stopped.  If I’m pretty, it’s going to be from the inside out, and it doesn’t matter if others see it.

What prompted this long tirade on pretty?  My 11 year old said a girl had an ugly nose.  That’s all it took. Whether he made that judgement because of something that I have said or done, or a friend or family member, television…I don’t care.  It doesn’t matter. Imagine how pretty his eyes looked rolled back in his head for the hour lecture he got on that girl’s beauty.

When someone smiles, and they mean it so much, that you can see it in their eyes, that’s beautiful.  When someone cries because they can’t hold in emotion, that’s beautiful.  Beauty is in every person, and in every emotion. The ugly is that we are sometimes too blind to see it right there in front of us. I am making it a point to speak in front of my children on every beauty that I see.  The young person helping the elderly with their groceries.  The lady who delivers the mail smiling and waiving just to say hello because she’s friendly.  I don’t want my children to ever take a face as the value of someone’s beauty.

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