We live in an age where it's "cool" to be like those girls/women in the tabloids, magazines, and movies. Most of the time they're leggy, skinny, and what perfection would look like if perfection could actually look like something.
It occurred to me, as I dressed for bed only a few minutes ago from a very relaxing shower (and because I hadn't had one in a couple of days and my hair was starting to look a little...yeah) that, if I had dug my mirror out of my closet (it won't stay on the back of the door, damn it, no matter how much sticky-tack is applied) I would have said that girl in the reflection looks beautiful. And she would have looked it because she felt it.
I'm not going to lie. I've had my share of body issues over the years. Even for all the soccer that I've played, all the hours that I've worked out in the gym (especially this past summer, for a soccer season that I didn't have) and the changes in my diet due to my interesting (sometimes painful) digestive system, there are some days when I still don't like my hips or that annoying little area just below the dip at the base of my spine. Yes, that area that I have so lovingly (not) called my back fat.
It's not that I'm not comfortable with my weight. I've weighed around the same amount for the past five years or so, and I stray away from those BMI things because, quite frankly, who wants to be told that they're even slightly overweight? I carry my weight differently - mostly because mine is still quite a bit of muscle, even if my abs have gone a little soft - and I carry it well.
I don't normally think of myself as beautiful. Cute is about as far as I'll go. Occasionally someone in the family slips in the word "adorable" but I usually thinks of Mads when I hear that, not myself. But the way I feel right now - UnderArmor compression shorts, horrid green flannel shirt from the men's department at Wal-Mart (I live in a room that could easily pass as a meat locker, so don't get me started) and with my hair down (a rarity) - I feel truly beautiful. And it's because I'm comfortable. Comfortable with myself and comfortable in my own skin.
Having Jason Aldean and Bryan Adam's CMT Crossroads version of Heaven also helps, but that's right up there with Gershwin for me right now. (FYI - My sister and I are both lovers of classical music, as in I practically drooled when she told me that she had 5 hours of classical on her computer that I could come steal and which I plan on doing when I go home in a week.)
The American Heritage College Dictionary defines beautiful as the following:
beautiful (byoo-ta-fel) adj. 1. Having qualities that delight the senses, esp. sight. 2. Excellent; wonderful.
This definition, however, tells you nothing about feeling beautiful. Doesn't tell you a damn thing about the way you feel when you see something beautiful.
It doesn't tell you about the little girl in the red wagon that takes your breath away; the sight of the hills you live in from the waves on the lake that's been a part of your life since you can remember; watching the sunset on the back porch on a fall day, the reds in the trees in the dying sunlight; laying on your back in the cool summer grass, picking out constellations with cousins you only get to see maybe once a year if you're lucky; watching the sun come up over the high-rises of a city that's the definition of resilient; that first chunky snowfall when it actually sticks; watching your grandmother too overcome with words because your sister's just given her that big family picture from her wedding, the one with all 42 of us and that she hangs on the wall above the TV in the living room so that you look at it every time you walk in; that first dorm room with carpet, extra windows, and trying not to cry as mom and dad pull out of the parking lot; that first time you realized that, yes, Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore; finding a friend that you get close enough to to cry on, and be cried on, and nothing else at that time matters but the person next to you; photographs and cards on the plain white walls, the poster of two Irish bad boys with halos loved almost as much as the photo of two girls, sisters, under a tree, one in a graduation robe and the other with her favorite red heels in the grass; a scruffy, beat-to-shit Oldsmobile between a Lexus and an Audi; knowing that my best friend is a dance and then actually watching her dance and wanting to cry because it's beautiful and proud and just her the way that she's meant to be; making a smile appear on another person's face because you can and not because you're paid to do it, but because it feels right; a little community that almost nobody's ever heard of, made famous for a racetrack, and that automatically comes out when someone asks, "Where you from?" because that's just the way it is.
That is my definition (part of it) of what beautiful is. What's yours? What takes your breath away and makes you so happy inside your chest that you could cry? Are they superficial things, empty and hollow, or are they things that mean and make a difference? Are they people? Are they things you can live without, that you can give up? Or will you fight like hell for each and every one of those beautiful things in your life because they are, in a way, distinctly part of you?
These are beautiful things to a girl from a big family in a small town, who will do what's right even if it's painful (ask about Philly, if you're daring) and stands out a little bit because that's just the way she is. And that's just the way that things not only are, but will continue to be. Because that's her.
"My darling girl, when are you going to realize that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage." - Aunt Frances, Practical Magic
I dare you to be beautiful. I absolutely dare you.