I still remember when I learned my mom was pregnant with my youngest sister. I was a junior in high school, and surprised to learn there would be another baby in our family. Grace… she took our lives by storm. When she was little I would take her to the store and pretend she was my baby. Now she’s 13, and so smart, funny, and wise. When I was home for Christmas she blew me away with her thoughts about beauty, and I asked if she would write for The Refined Woman. She said yes. Get ready.
I love you to the moon + back Grace 🙂 Always.
How would you define beauty? My sisters told me to find beauty in the heart. My art teacher said, “Beauty is as beauty does.” If I asked my friends, they would tell me the name of someone they think is pretty.
When I was a little girl, I thought I was beautiful every time I wore the color pink. But that changed when I got to middle school. I was no longer with my friends from elementary school, and I had to go out of my comfort zone and try to make new friends.
It was a rude awakening to sit down at a table, only to have the girls call me “fat” and walk away. I didn’t feel beautiful anymore. I wasn’t myself anymore. I spent so much time being concerned with who I was that I didn’t really focus on my relationship with God. I only found beauty in validation, acceptance, and perfection.
When I left for school in the morning I didn’t feel beautiful unless my hair and clothes were perfect. Getting perfect grades completed the person I was trying to be.
I tried to do things people would think were cool. I wanted people to think I was fun and adventurous when they looked at my posts on social media. Things that should have been simple, like changing in the locker room, eating with friends, or dancing with guys at cotillion became stressful. I started eating lunch in my favorite teacher’s room so I wouldn’t have to face the battlefield called the lunchroom.
I would have given anything to be a little girl again, filled with confidence, without a worry in the world. My goal of perfection was exhausting.
One night I was in the kitchen sobbing when my mom walked in. I told her everything – I was angry that I wasn’t perfect, and mad at God because He didn’t make me look like all the other girls.
She let me cry, and after a while she said, “Grace, you know I’m not perfect right? And the girls you think are beautiful aren’t perfect either. Just because someone posts a good picture or wears a size zero doesn’t make them perfect. The only person who was ever perfect was Jesus, and how could you ever compare yourself to Him?”
She prayed for me and gave me a hug. Her wisdom was exactly what I needed.
I realized I had never stopped to think about what God’s definition of beauty. What He says to be true is all that matters. After that, my perspective of beauty started to change. I stopped getting beauty mixed up with being pretty, and let go of my standard of perfection. I found peace in the fact that no matter how many times a day I mess up, God still loves me.
I started going to a new church, and made friends who helped me feel beautiful. It is refreshing to have friends who are kind and supportive. Now, I look in the mirror, and I walk in the halls, and although not everybody loves me for who I am, God does. At the end of the day, that is all that matters.
I’m happy having sporadic dance parties, watching the Mindy Project, jamming to Glee, and starting novels I will never finish. A couple years ago, I would have died if anyone knew I didn’t have it all together, but who does? I’m not perfect, the popular girls at school aren’t perfect, and even Beyonce isn’t perfect, but that’s okay. Beauty isn’t perfect. Beauty is holding yourself to a standard of grace.