As early as we learn our colors and how to spell our name, we’re taught moral principles that will hopefully shape us into good, responsible and thoughtful people. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” “If you see something, say something,” “Sharing is caring,” and the list of clichés goes on and on.
Another one in particular that I remember hearing often is, “Beauty comes from the inside.” My mother would emphasize this every time I misbehaved, scaring me into thinking that my bad attitude and intentional pestering of my big sister would somehow make me look like Wicked Witch of the West.
As I got older and really started to grow into young lady-hood, she’d still encourage me to reflect a beautiful spirit, but she also start making more mention of the external. All throughout middle and high school, she’d sing praises of how beautiful I was, admiring my thick hair, cocoa complexion and even my stick figure limbs. (She’s definitely one of those annoying super moms who exaggerate everything great about their kids to the 100th power). She’d always say, “Everyone is beautiful. But you’re stunning, like stare-at-you stunning.” She even went on as far as to say, “Your beauty is a gift.” I still remember that conversation as we were riding in the car. Looking at her from the corner of my eye as if she was half crazy, I responded, “Mom, beauty isn’t a gift. It doesn’t do anything.” And with a most sincere and matter-of-fact tone, she assured, “Beauty is a gift. People will listen to you because you’re pretty; so when you speak, make sure you have something to say.”