A Facebook friend recently shared a link on her page explaining why Abercrombie and Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries, does not carry larger sized clothing in his stores. Mr. Jeffries seems to feel that only thin people are beautiful. Perhaps Mr. Jeffries has never actually met a truly beautiful person.
As a plus-sized woman, I'm offended. Still, I know that plenty of people in my life think I'm beautiful. I know that as a writer and a yoga teacher, I can help others experience beauty regardless of how I look.
However, I'm not only offended because of mere physical characteristics. I'm offended on a deeper level by this understanding (or lack of understanding) of what constitutes beauty. I've never related particularly well to shallowness in anyone. After my experiences with pregnancy and infant loss and talking to many other people with those experiences, I'm even less patient. I believe that real beauty has very little to do with things we can see and much more to do with how we act and feel.
Love is beautiful. Sometimes we lose that love and it's the beauty of it that makes those losses so painful.
Compassion is beautiful. Every time we reach out to another human being, there is beauty in that act. Whether we share our stories, commit random acts of kindness, utilize the power of touch, give compliments, offer help or merely listen respectfully to one another, that make us beautiful.
Surviving is beautiful. We may survive miscarriage, deadly disease or just everyday drama in life. All of us who keep on going are survivors in some way or another. What does not kill us makes us stronger. It sounds like a cliché but it really is true. Strength (and not just physical strength) is beautiful.
Courage is beautiful. Navigating grief requires a certain amount of bravery. Living your life fully, chasing your dreams, being passionate about things all require courage. There is absolute beauty in living the life you want to live.
Patience, kindness, respect, joy, learning, tolerance, being true to yourself, acting with integrity; all of these things can be beautiful. If you've had a miscarriage, lost a child or ever suffered any sort of loss at all, you probably know that superficial exterior beauty is irrelevant. There are many deeper things in the world. How often have you met physically attractive people whose behavior makes them ugly? Yet some people shine with an inner radiance that has nothing to do with physical appearance.
Standards of physical beauty vary culturally and through time. The intangibles of being beautiful never change. I'm not saying that having a miscarriage (or suffering any loss) makes you beautiful. But the grace, determination and courage with which you handle it do. We are all beautiful in some way and most of those ways are not physical. Refuse to accept a narrow-minded view of what beauty is or is not.