Monday, January 31, 2011

Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder (or Somewhere Else)

Note: These pictures were only cropped and then changed to black and white.
 I used to be photogenic.  About fifteen years ago.  Then, I don't know what happened.  Did I get self-conscious?  Did I feel fat, old, ugly?  Don't know.  It happened, and now I must live with the ramifications--odd man out in family pictures nine times out of ten, butterflies every time a camera is open in my direction.

But that is not what this post is about.
In case any of you missed the challenge, here it is again:

We as women are bombarded with images of what perfection should look like.  And, if you're anything like me, it doesn't appear when looking in the mirror.
I spent a good ten minutes staring in the mirror, trying to look past all the flaws and imperfections and issues I wrestle with every day.  I wanted to really SEE myself.  It took me close to five minutes to decide on one facial feature that I consider quite beautiful.

Straight after a shower or after you've washed your face, take some time to really look at that woman in the mirror.  What do you see that's beautiful? Ignore or re-evaluate those things that have always bugged or challenged you. What is your singular, personal element of beauty? Is it skin, ears, hair? Is it wisdom or humor or understanding in your eyes?  We all have one thing that not only makes us individuals.  That one thing makes us beautiful.  What is yours and why?

I never meant for this to be flippant or narcissistic or egotistical or vain or excruciating or embarrassing or painfully impossible.  What I intended was for you to take some time to appreciate yourself.  Love yourself.  After all, it is February today--the month of love.  Even if a little of that love needs to be directed inwards.

I am the oldest of four kids--one brother and three sisters.  I've always said that Alisa is the cute one--the one with the fun, bubbly personality, Karen is the beautiful one--think Julia Roberts, and me?  Well, I'm the smart one.  Not that they're not smart, because they are.  Being the smart one was always my safe spot, because then I felt like looks didn't really matter to me, because I was SMART.  And smart lasts forever, right?

The older I get, the more I see the need for each of us to feel beautiful (AND smart) in our own ways.  I could focus on all my flaws and number them here one by one till I reached a hundred. I could compare myself to those beautiful people in film and in print, wondering how much weight I need to lose, how many Botox injections I would use, how many abrasion treatments I would require.

That's not healthy.
But most importantly, that's not reality.  Those images we see aren't real.  They're doctored and stretched. Altered and sculpted. Fantasy.

What beauty do real women have?  What beauty do I have that is uniquely mine?  Let's see.

I have my dad's chin.  Although it's far from feminine, I love having that part of me directly linked to his gene pool.  It's such a dominant gene, in fact, that no one has yet to breed it out--all TWENTY of his grandkids have it.  We're waiting to see if Sam's  Brubaker genes can trump the Tucker chin.  I secretly hope not.

Since I share it with all of my family, my chin isn't the answer.

It's funny that it took me almost six minutes to recognize my unique beauty features. They've changed as I've aged, but they're still there, framing my smile.
I've been told that my Grandpa Tucker lovingly called dimples "inside-out pimples."  My dimples are my defining feature. Some people have one, some none. Some have two.  I'm one of the lucky "two-sided" people.  As I've gotten older, they've lengthened--used to be they were two deep dents on either side of my mouth. Now they're turning into additional laugh lines. Often only the right dimple manifests itself, but I recognize when I'm truly smiling, because that's when they both jump out.

The first time I read Gone With the Wind (as a hopelessly romantic eleven-year-old), I immediately recognized the one feature Scarlett O'Hara and I share.  As much as I adored her beautiful, smooth, white skin, coveted her black hair or envied her snapping green eyes, as much as I wished I could look like that, I knew I never would.  But when Scarlett really whipped out the charm, she would "make her dimples dance."

That I can do.  And I'll try to remember to make them dance as often as I can, from here on out.

I'd love to have you link up with us today. (I always include my own post first so I can make sure the link is working.)

And for all of you who love a good giveaway, head over to my friend Anna's blog. She's desperate! :) Read her post and you'll understand. She's clever, she's beautiful, she's funny, but most of all, she's a great, smart writer, and you'll enjoy her posts.


  1. I love your eyes. The little fine lines that are there show genuine joy and happiness
    Yup, the dimples they are keepers.

    I am really going to have to ponder this. I'm not sure I feel that I have any innate beauty.
    Even after getting my "face on" it's lacking.

    I will reread you and reponder.

  2. It is important to recognize how our beauty changes (wink) as we get older.
    I noticed (and posted about - that is what I'll link today) the lines around my eyes as I get older but they are happy lines.
    My daughter had put our faces together in a picture last winter and she has my eyes except my eyes now have more wrinkles and I embrace those - because they are wrinkled from smiling and being happy!
    My defining feature is my 1 dimple - I always liked having 1 because I thought it was unique. My great grandmother had one and several of my children have 1 - it is our "thing"!! :-D

  3. The linky tool didn't work for me right now so I'll try later :-D

  4. I wrote a post when Brennan was almost a year. I said my wrinkles were like wearing him on my face. After max was born, I found more and realized the gift my wrinkles weary children on my face always. I've looked at them as beauty from then on:) so thankful for that gift.

  5. I love dimples! I have one small one but I've always wanted huge, cute dimples. :)

  6. I am so desperate! ;) thanks for the shout out.

    I've always wanted dimples, but now I am getting them in the form of laugh lines.

    I also wanted glasses and braces as a child, but I am hoping those wishes aren't granted too soon.

  7. What fun dimples are. I love your eyes too....they are serious and warm....the dimples add to their brightness. Fun assignment. Hmmmm...thinking.

  8. Funny thing I was just thinking about that this morning. Society expects unhealthy things from us to become "beautiful". We can't eat, we inject botulism, cut, poke, prod and alter until we are what society considers acceptable. Yet, I would venture to bet those who avoid such things are likely more healthy. I may be 20-30 lbs over my desired weight, but I am healthy and able to participate in all the running, hiking, biking, etc. I care to do...and that's a lot.

    Watch some 80's movies Karate Kid and see how far we have come from a healthy weight and appearance to what is expected today. It is sad.

  9. I am of the firm belief that the bathroom mirror always lies. Bad lighting, you know?

    And I also believe that beauty is connected to our self-esteem. Perhaps not always as the world sees it, but it's true.

    But I am jealous of your dimples. :D

  10. Oh you lucky 2 dimple girl. I'm a sucker for dimples. I love your hair too.

  11. I secretly hope they do. Have you seen Sam's wonderful butt-chin??? I desired a cleft chin my entire life, and Heidi's children have an opportunity at greatness!

  12. I posted, I didn't link, since I'm private.
    Thanks for the linky party. It was fun to go through and read the others.

  13. I think you look amazing for someone who has so much in her life :) I do love your dimples though. I have one small one on the left side of my mouth. However, I would love to have such big happy dimples like yours. :)

  14. jen, I just wen tup to your header and oh my goodness are you ever right about that chin - ALL of your kids have your chin, it's amazing!! This assignment is fantastic - really thought provoking, so much so that I'm stuck (isn't that silly?!) - but mulling it over for certain - definitely gonna be super late to THIS linky party ...

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