The other day I stopped at Walgreens for a few items. It was an extremely hot day and I had just finished exercising. I would have preferred to at least shower before the quick shopping trip, but sunscreen, band-aids, and an anniversary card could not wait until my once-a-week grocery store excursion.
I was comparing the (outrageous) price of spray sunscreen verses lotion sunscreen when a male voice came up and startled me out of my SPF price-comparing reverie.
“I just gotta say, ‘You are beautiful,’” he stated just as casually as he would tell me my shoe was untied or that I should really invest in some deodorant or that Banana Boat lasts way longer than Coppertone when it comes to sun protection.
But he didn’t say those things. He said, “You are beautiful.”
And as the young man (whose years appeared to be half of my almost forty) walked away he added, “Go Tarheels,” and smiled in reference to my baseball cap.
I’m pretty sure my mouth was hanging open. I wouldn’t have been able to speak if Pat Sajack stood before me and asked me to choose a letter.
There is no way that guy was talking to me.
I actually looked over my shoulder to make sure there wasn’t a Scarlett Johansson look-alike coyly deciding which tanning oil to lather on her curves (in all the right places, I might add).
At this point I would have paid fifty bucks for whatever sunscreen I happen to be holding in my hand at that moment and did a dead sprint to the checkout counter.
Who needs band-aids and store-bought cards anyway? I decided we could use masking tape for the band-aids I was leaving without, and Hallmark cards are completely overrated anyway. I was certain my parents would love a homemade anniversary card this year.
Once I was in the safety of my car, I had a moment to reflect.
I actually tilted the rearview mirror down until I could see my reflection. I quickly tilted it back up. I surely did not see anything qualifying as “beautiful” there.
And in that moment of confusion, bewilderment, and shock, the words of a dear friend and loyal blog reader came back to me.
She had recently posted an array of vacation pictures on Facebook. A particular photo of her in the album captivated me. It was a close-up of her face. She wore not a stitch of make-up, and she was laughing.
In the comment section below the picture I had written one word: Beautiful.
In fact, I had never seen this gorgeous woman ever look so beautiful.
Later, she sent me a personal message. She has graciously given me permission to share those words with you now:
Yesterday on Facebook, you made a comment about a picture that I would have never made of myself. In fact, it took me by surprise. You typed “Beautiful” about the picture of me laughing. I almost replied, “I don’t think so. I hate the way my nose crinkles up and how my chin looks in this picture.” But then I realized your comment is your perception of the picture, not mine, and that I should consider looking at it again. I then smiled and said a peaceful and sincere “thank you” to you in my head.
My friend went on to describe her personal battle (and recent small successes) against her cruel inner voice and poor self-image issues.
I tilted the rearview mirror down one more time. Maybe I should reconsider it, too.
I liked how my cheeks were flushed a peachy rose color from the intensity of my just-completed five-mile run.
And how my hair curled into soft waves from the sweltering heat and humidity.
I even saw the faintest sparkle in my eyes resulting from the exercise endorphins still radiating through my body.
It was a stretch. But OK, maybe so.
At this point you may be expecting a grand revelation about overcoming the debilitating affects of a negative self-image. I am sorry to disappoint, but you will not find one here.
(At least not yet.)
But I will say this …
If you think someone is beautiful … in their sweaty mess, in their laughing fit, in their actions toward others, or in their own radiant light, tell her so.
If you think someone is beautiful, tell him today; tell him right now.
They probably will not expect it; they might even doubt it. But for one split second they might consider it.
And maybe, just maybe, they will see something beautiful, too.
We so often overlook our best qualities. We commonly experience tunnel vision straight to the “problem areas,” instead of seeing our not-so-obvious beautiful features, both inside and out.
I challenge you to let go of distraction and perfection and grasp what matters by doing these two things:
1) Consider your own beauty. Take a look. Zero in on something you like about yourself and celebrate that appealing physical (or non-physical) characteristic.
2) Consider someone else’s beauty. Tell him or her these simple words: “You are beautiful.”
I welcome you to use this post as a catalyst for those words. Simply use the “share” button below. Do it today. Do it right now. We so often have the words someone else needs to hear at the exact moment he or she needs to hear it.