I was thinking about beautiful people. I don’t mean pretty. There’s a whole lot of pretty in the world, but I don’t usually spare it more than a passing glance. Pretty is a one-dimensional feature of appearance. I mean beauty that is both internal and external, it is in character and deed, word and thought, kindness and sarcasm, gracefulness and quirks, hopes and dreams, clumsiness and silliness. Beauty is not perfection. Beauty is definitely not skin deep. Beauty lives in the depths of a soul and shines outward.
There’s a line from Doctor Who where Amelia Pond says, “You know when sometimes you meet someone so beautiful and then you actually talk to them and five minutes later they’re dull as a brick? Then there’s other people, when you meet them and you think, ‘Not bad. They’re okay.’ And then you get to know them, and… and their face sort of becomes them, like their personality’s written all over it. And they just, they turn into something so beautiful… “
The first beautiful she means is pretty, or handsome. The next beautiful is the full beauty of the soul’s depths. That beauty isn’t a static, superficial aspect like pretty. It’s deeper; it’s pretty in motion. Pretty is a photograph. Beauty is a feature length film. That beauty is the same beauty that, at another time, she referred to with, “Get your stupid face where I can see it, okay?” She didn’t mean he had a stupid face. Nor, in the first quote did she mean that he wasn’t physically attractive. It was that his looks came to life with the inner reality of who he was. And because of their relationship and their personalities, “stupid face” was not an insult. It was more of a reflection of her own beautiful quirk of having trust and intimacy issues and deflecting a bit when she was begging for him to see her love. And to him, he saw the beauty in her, quirks and all.
I believe we all want to be seen as pretty or handsome; but, I know we all NEED to be seen as beautiful. We need someone to look past our bad hair day (or in my case bad hair life) and our weight and wrinkles and scars and the various deteriorations of life on our appearance. We need them to see the growth in our spirit, the strength in our character, our passions and fears, failures and talents, confidences and insecurities. And because they see the depths of us, and they love us still; then, when they see the outward prettiness, it is changed into a unique masterpiece that is only visible to them. They don’t see the same features that any stranger on a sidewalk sees. They don’t see the same pieces of us that any other loved one sees quite the same. They see more because their personal knowledge of us colours and filters their view. Pretty is dimming every moment that we live while beauty only glows brighter through the progress of time. Sidewalk stranger sees the basic lines of our portrait. Intimate friends and family see nuance behind every brush stroke in full colour, brightness, and contrast.
Agatha Christie said, “It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.”
She didn’t say we loved them because they were hot. She didn’t say we loved them when they were looking perfect. She said they looked ridiculous. Because if you love someone, if you see their beauty, those moments are so much deeper than looking ridiculous, they are moments when the inner beauty shines through, both because of and in spite of the ridiculousness. It is them letting their guard down and being themselves and that act of trust is a whole other layer of beauty. Let the rest of the world roll their eyes at your ridiculous moments. Someone, somewhere, sees that beauty and realizes how much they love you.
I’ve spent a lot of my years trying to be what others wanted me to be. I was afraid of looking ridiculous. I was afraid of being myself because I felt neither pretty enough nor beautiful enough. I finally realized that trying to fit into their boxes and labels that they wanted me in was what was keeping me from being the beauty that I was inside. If I only used their definition of pretty, I would never feel like I qualified. If I only used their definition of beauty, I was robbing myself of the beauty in me that they couldn’t define because they hadn’t experienced it yet. It is a limiting and devastating process to conform to the expectations of others. It is a damning one to adopt those expectations yourself, either in how you see yourself or how you see others. It strips everyone of their individuality and it is that individuality that is at the core of the meaning of beautiful.
There is a song that I wrote last year. I wrote it for a script that is currently unfinished. In this story, one character writes a song for her lover. The first and last lines of the chorus are:
“Go be the beauty that lives inside your dreams…
Go be the beautiful you… that I can see…”
She knows, because she has seen beyond the physical traits, that there is more beauty inside this person waiting to come out. There is a treasure trove buried in there and she has seen it. She’s encouraging her lover to not ignore it, to embrace it, to be it, to live the calling of her life because that will let it shine.
Don’t limit yourself to the definition of beauty that others around you claim. Don’t settle for pretty on the surface and ignore the beauty of the depths. Get your stupid face out there in the world and be the beauty that is the essence of who you are in this very moment, even if it’s ridiculous.