“You look beautiful!” my daughter exclaimed when she saw me standing in the kitchen this morning. I was dressed in sweat pants, a baggy old sweater that had seen better days, and my hair had been hastily pulled back into a messy bun. My body was slumped tiredly against the counter; a strong cup of coffee in one hand, cold, weak toast in the other.
“Thank you,” I said, setting my breakfast down. I knelt down, and my soon to be 4 year old launched herself into my arms. Her little body was still warm from sleep, and her hair held the soft, sweet smell of apples. I pressed my lips to her forehead. “You are beautiful too, sweetheart,” I said.
She pushed back, abruptly. “Not yet!” she exclaimed. “I’m not dressed in my beautiful clothes! And my hair doesn’t have anything beautiful in it!”
“Huh,” I said, thoughtfully tilting my head to the side. I studied her for a moment. Golden hair cascading gently down her back, blue eyes filled with laughter and wonder, rosy cheeks flushed with the excitement of a new day. My daughter is, in fact, beautiful. Yet I didn’t rush her over to a mirror in order to point that out. Instead, I shared a secret.
“I guess I haven’t told you about the secret to true beauty yet, have I?” I mused.
“What is it?” she gasped.
“Well,” I began. “True beauty isn’t something you see at first. It’s something you feel.” My daughter looked confused, but snuggled in closer to me and listened intently.
“The most beautiful people in the world are kind, helpful, loving and good. Their beauty is inside of them. So when you meet these people, they have the kind of beauty that shines through from the inside out. You feel good when you’re around them. Sometimes you feel their beauty before you see it.”
“What if we put jewelry on?” my daughter asked. “Does that make us beautiful?”
“Jewelry can be very beautiful,” I said, nodding, “and it’s fun to wear, but it doesn’t make us beautiful. It doesn’t matter what clothes we have on, or what our hair looks like. If we are not beautiful on the inside, we can never truly be beautiful on the outside.”
My daughter thought about this for a moment while she played with a thread that was slowly unraveling from the cuff of my sweater. “Mom?” she said, looking up at me. “You feel beautiful to me.”
“You feel beautiful to me, too,” I said, hugging her closer.
And she is.