Absolutely Gorgeous

The guy was hot. Every night at camp, he and another guy kicked off the evening program with a skit, in which they wore ridiculously tight clothes and romance-novel wigs while bantering back and forth with fake accents until the audience roared with laughter. The hot one was named Daniel, but on stage he was known as Tito. “Tito!!!” the girls would scream. Click-click went their disposable cameras. He was a regular craze that summer. And when he was just Daniel, sans the wig and stage clothes, the girls would still follow him around camp, huddled in clusters at a safe distance and giggling. They even waited for him outside the bathroom, just to get a candid glimpse of him.

Now I’ll tell you that Tito was my husband, or rather my fiancé at the time. The campers didn’t know this, though, for public display of affection was not allowed, and so they had no idea they were swooning over my fiancé.

Honestly, they might not have believed me if I’d told them. Absolutely no one suspected I was “Tito’s” fiancé. Surely a guy that good-looking would have a perfect-10 for a girlfriend.

Not necessarily, my friends.

What is beauty, anyway? I asked Daniel the other day what beauty was to him, and do you know what he said? Character. He said the most gorgeous woman in the world becomes the worst kind of ugly when her heart is black. Bitterness, selfishness, and malice disfigure a person in the same way that kindness, joy, and selflessness beautify.

Which means that I am literally stunning to him – the amber color in my eyes, my long straight hair, my freckled skin – all beautiful to behold because of the glow of my character.

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How’s that for a take on beauty.

It’s hard, though, living in an Asian country where every woman I see is smaller than a size 4 with skin like chocolate milk and hair as shiny and black as the patent leather pumps on her feet. How in the world can I compete with beauty like that?

The answer is I can’t, but neither could I compete with an Olympic middle-distance runner in a mile race. Does that bother me? No. Why then does it bother me to be less svelte, less brown, less smooth, less defined, etc? We women are so hung up on whether or not we appear beautiful, when in actuality appearing beautiful and being beautiful are two different things. If we spent as much effort working on being beautiful as we do on appearing beautiful, the world would be a different place entirely.

That said, our husbands do deserve someone pretty to come home to. It would be downright cruel of me to just let myself go, and still expect Daniel to find me attractive. But girls I’m convinced a pair of good-fitting jeans and a heart of gold are all any of us need to be absolutely gorgeous.

Wresting with beauty isn’t related to a marital status. What are the messages related to beauty in the country you live in?

Photo Credit : Steven Spassov via Unsplash

11 Comments

  1. Heather Neufeld October 23, 2014

    As an overseas worker in Mozambique it took me several years to get used to being called the shona equivalent of “fat mama”, have the orphan children and their grannies grab my sides and exclaim over whether my fat rolls had diminished or grown in their opinion, and have numerous people exclaim about how fat I was. By North American standards I’m definitely plus sized. Overweight even. Unhealthy. To the Mozambican’s I’m beautiful. Healthy. Well cared for. My husband must love me (perhaps I’m even his favourite wife!) and is probably “rich” because obviously I am eating well). It took a very very long time for my mind to get used to being called fat and understand it was a compliment- that they desired this for themselves! That my weight spoke of health and love and beauty, not the opposite like I had been trained to think since a young age. I’m not saying I do not desire to lose weight, I do, because I know that despite what the locals think, I realize THIS much fat is probably not a good thing for my heart of future diabetic possibilities- I am saying however that living in Mozambique has made me more aware of the beauty that can been seen in me thru different lenses. That beauty means different things to different cultures. I will never forget the day that I went to greet one of the local women who I have been praying for and befriending for several years. She had lost her toddler son to hydrocephalus (water on the brain) months earlier and I had been there to grieve with her, and now I was here to celebrate the birth of her precious baby girls- twins. She was holding one, so I reached for the other one, but she stopped me and said “No Senhora, you MUST hold this one first”. I was confused, but said, ok, and took the tiny bundled newborn from her. As I took the baby she explained, “you must hold this one first bc her name is Heather (my name), we have named her this because she is fat like you!!!” (insert proud look on mothers face and mortified/honored look on mine). The story gets laughs every time I tell it, but Im happy to say, by this point I understood the culture and knew not only was she complimenting me, but honouring me greatly by naming her child after me, and doing so immediately after birth instead of waiting several weeks or months as is the norm. The pic I have included is me with Baby Heder (the “th” sound doesn’t really exist in our language so they pronounce it like heder instead) and myself just chilling out on the mat in her parents yard.

    1. Kayla Rupp October 23, 2014

      This is a wonderful comment-that-should-be-a-post-of-its-own. I hope not one single VA reader misses this. I love it! The pic is awesome. Those are two beautiful Heders for sure.

      1. Heather Neufeld October 23, 2014

        Thank you! We are home on furlough now and by the time we get back she will be nearly one year old! I can hardly stand it! And I’m sure the locals will have something to say about the “furlough 15” I’m diligently trying to work off every morning….. but really… theres only so much you can do when supporters feed you lasagna and cheesecake so often!

        1. T October 23, 2014

          🙂 loved this!  (and i love lasagna and cheesecake!)

    2. Cecily Willard October 27, 2014

      Wow, Heather!  You have such a beautiful attitude!  But I am sure that this attitude didn’t just suddenly appear, but one that the Lord has been working in you through many hard words and hurt feelings.  Way to go in your perseverance!  Love the photo–your beautiful smile reflects the beauty of your heart.

  2. Josi October 25, 2014

    While in China, I often heard terms like “teacher you’re fat!” And I would ignore it because I knew it wasn’t the case. Sure I’m curvy but I have a sturdy bone structure, for reals, no one in my family has had a broken bone. Anyhow I also learned that its not rude in their culture to say that. Its an acknowledgement of size and eating well and that I must be cared for. While on the other hand my students obsessed over their weight and would “diet” or starve and take scary diet pills. I couldn’t believe it. They were already tiny!! I just had to be content with being me & love my students and seek to define beauty as ultimately coming from the heart. A transformed heart.

    1. Kayla Rupp October 29, 2014

      Yes!! Outwardly we are all wasting away anyway. The renewal is happening within, and the beauty there will never fade, age, wither, or die. Amen and amen.

  3. Cecily Willard October 26, 2014

    Thanks for the reminder about beauty in the character.  Though there are limits to creating physical beauty, I think creating a beautiful character can and should be an ongoing pursuit.  (I’m not saying it’s always easy, but it is something that can be continually pursued for the betterment of all!)

  4. Salem October 29, 2014

    Kayla,

    I love LOVE LOVE this post! I’m not on the overseas field, unless an American law school counts 🙂 but I relate so much with these blogs. I made a visual of one of Your quotes to share as one of my new fave quotes. I have attached it On here. You are fabulous and beautiful!!

    1. Kayla Rupp October 29, 2014

      I can’t tell you how much it meant to read your words. I just visited Warrior Princesses and loved it! What a sweet spirit you have, and your outlook is infectious. Journey on, my friend! (and by the way, YOU are beautiful)

      Kayla

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