Health Magazine

Beauty, Part III

By Melissa Boles @_mboles

In continuing with our conversation on beauty, my friend Lauren Nespoli, who I’ve known for several years, shares her perspective.  I’m really loving this series, and I’m wondering – if you could answer these questions, what would you say?

What does the word “beauty” mean to you?

When I first think of beauty, I do tend to think of someone looking nice, but there’s inner beauty and outer beauty. Outer beauty is more superficial and possibly people notice that before inner beauty when someone walks into a room, but inner beauty is more important. Without inner beauty, outer beauty is just a shell; the inner beauty is what truly makes a person beautiful. To me, inner beauty is being a good person who is considerate of others and just tries to be their best self.

What’s your first memory of understanding beauty?

I don’t know! Probably watching my mom get ready for something, and putting on a dress and doing her hair and makeup. I remember thinking that she looked beautiful. I assumed it was because of the makeup, but I thought she looked pretty every day so I think it was actually her intelligence and happiness and the love she showed my sister and I that really made me say that she was beautiful.

What do you know about beauty now that you didn’t know when you were in your teens/early twenties?

Maybe that beauty isn’t uniform; everyone can be beautiful in their own way and you don’t have to all look the same. When I was a teenager, for a while it seemed like guys thought girls like Jennifer Lopez and Shakira were beautiful, and I was always comparing myself to celebrities and seeing what I needed to change about myself to make myself look prettier. When it was a hair style or an outfit, that was easy. But looking at them, I knew I could never change my petite body into that of a curvy Hispanic woman, and my pale skin wasn’t going to look like their dark skin no matter how long I stayed in the sun. Plus, I liked my body shape and I didn’t want to be super tan. So, I had to realize that that was one person’s definition of pretty and I could be pretty in my own way by emphasizing the parts of myself that I thought looked good and downplaying the parts I didn’t like as much. I didn’t have to change myself. Also, don’t be so afraid of mascara! haha.

What do you wish you could change about the way beauty is portrayed?

I think a lot of times the media makes it seem like you have to be super skinny with big boobs and a perfect butt, and you also have to have perfect hair, teeth, nails, and all the right makeup. But that’s just not possible. I do my best to look good with what I have, but I don’t wear push-up bras or those padded butt things. I think more emphasis should be put on dressing for your body type, not trying to make your body into someone else’s. Don’t make people feel bad for their body type either; as long as you’re healthy then that’s what matters. There are so many comments online that overweight people must be lazy and never move off the couch, but that’s not always true. I’ve also read a lot of comments that skinny people have eating disorders, and that’s not always true either; sometimes it’s just genetic. And then it’s fine when the media shows you makeup tips and stuff because I’m in favor of doing your best with that stuff, as long as you don’t force yourself to go overboard thinking that if you do better with your makeup you’ll feel better about yourself.

If you could tell your younger self one thing about beauty, what would you say?

I think age appropriateness is something it took me a long time to learn. When I was really young, like 8, I wouldn’t smile for pictures when I had missing teeth because “the people on TV who look pretty don’t have missing teeth,” (of course, they did when they were 8 but I guess that didn’t matter to me!) and I’d try to wear outfits that copied my mom’s style or whatever I saw on TV, and I’m sure they were fine, but I see such cute kids’ clothes now and I wish I would’ve let myself wear mismatched whatever and get dirty and have my hair messy and show my smile with missing teeth. Innocence is beautiful too, when you’re a child, and I didn’t have to try to be a grown-up to be “beautiful;” I just needed to be me.

Anything else you’d like to say about beauty?

There are lots of quotes around that say things about how happiness and confidence make you beautiful, and I think that’s partly true. Yes, outer beauty can be achieved with makeup and whatever else, but that inner beauty you can exude enhances the outer beauty and draws people to you, and to notice how pretty you are.

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