Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Measure of Beauty

When I was a little girl, I loved playing with paper dolls, making mud pies and playing dress up with my Mother's clothes. I would sit for hours underneath the dining room table playing with the paper dolls that I cut out from the catalogs my Grandmother kept in a box underneath the phone table.

The requirements for making the "cut" were precise. They had to be complete, meaning nothing or no one could be blocking any part of their body, their outfit had to be stylish and most importantly they had to be pretty.

At the ripe old age of six, I had set my standards and defined beauty. I would spend hours, turning page after page looking at each potential paper doll, deciding if they met the criteria I had set. Looking back at this, I ask myself these questions, how did I decide who was beautiful and who wasn't? What influenced this decision? Well, could it have been the catalogs I was looking through or the magazines on my Mother's coffee table?

For years, print and broadcast media have defined beauty. There was a time in the not so distant past where voluptuous women like Marilyn Monroe, Mae West and Jayne Mansfield were the "hot" commodities. They were the pin-up girls who women wanted to be like and men drooled over. They were a size 14 or above. By today's standards they would be obese women on the cover of tabloids with some horrifying caption. So, when did the standard of beauty change from healthy and curvy to unhealthy and straight? When did a woman having a boy's body with breasts become the "hot" commodity? Who is defining beauty and why as a society are we buying it? It is time to change this way of thinking and honor our bodies at each age and size.

The Maiden's body beginning to form and develop, flowing with creative juices as she begins to paint on the blank canvas of life. The Mother's body full, juicy and ripe, ready to birth life in all forms, and the Crone, whose body carries confidence, wisdom and grace from a life lived. Honoring the wisdom and the curves of our bodies is a testament to true beauty. Embracing each curve, stretch mark and wrinkle is testimony to living an alive and full life.

In the last few days of my Grandmother's life, I would sit next to her bed, holding her hands. She had beautiful hands. I looked at her hands and thought about the number of tortillas these hands made, how many quilts these hands made that keep her grandchildren and great grandchildren warm. I thought about how these hands worked on a farm and held her children, grand children and great grandchildren. I looked at her face and touched her cheek and thought about, how many smiles were on this face, how many tears streamed down these cheeks. I looked at my Grandmother and saw the beauty of a life lived. The beauty of a women who touched many lives, fed many people, cried many tears. At that moment, the size of her clothes did not matter, it was the size of her heart that defined true beauty.

In the end it is not the size of your clothes that matters, it is the size of your heart. Live from the beauty of your heart. Do not let a number on a tag define you, let the number of people whose heart you touch be the meter of true beauty.


  1. Thank you Laura, this is a great reminder and beautiful message. Something has happened to our society that encourages our young beautiful girls to stay skinny, to not put on weight and have the smallest waist in their crowd. I know so many teenage girls struggling with trying to be "in" and to stay thin. Some don't eat lunch or breakfast and barely anything for dinner...thinking THIS is the way to the perfect body and yet they still complain about their thin waists. If I lived in the Renaissance or Boroque ages I would be the hottest thing! Why not now? I try not to subscribe to those thoughts, but I must admit when you see some of these Hollywood types thin and incredibly fit you think, "wow...I don't even compare". Why is it that we think we need to compare ourselves? Why can't we be PERFECT in our minds eye JUST the way we are? For me this is a daily struggle, most days I am ahead of it...others I fall behind in my mind. Yet it is all in my mind, because my husband tells me daily how beautiful I am, how much he loves me and how beauty is more from what is on the inside than the outside....he's a good man :) AND I AM BEAUTIFUL!
    Thanks again for sharing!

  2. Laura,
    What beautiful comments you have!
    I never see the physical traits of a person. I don't see race, color, shape, etc. I "feel" what this person holds inside of them. What makes a person beautiful to me is how they see and treat others around them! I am not perfect but I am a beautiful person and I hope to teach my kids to "see" the way I do!
    Lots of Love,

  3. Laura
    I was so missing my grandmother recently, thinking about the house I used to visit, they way it smelled and all the things she brought me when they came to visit us. Her heart remains with me now, always... not the way she looked, but I must say she was beautiful.
    Thanks for this story. Makes me wanna love my curves even more.

  4. Thank Laura for this beautiful piece. Your lovely Spirit and the Spirit in which you write brings even more beauty to the knowledge that we are so much more than what we look like..
    Lots of love,

  5. what a great reminder... thinking of my dear gramma when she was in a healthier state... brought a smile to my face.... when I see her in the home she resides in now... I often think of the way she used to be and at the same time seeing such an innocence about her... even though she doesn't communicate like she used to... I know she knows I am there holding her hand.... I love you Gramma!!