When legendary sex symbol Bo Derek appeared on Oprah a few months ago, Oprah kept pressing her to tell the world something profound about being a beautiful woman, and Bo kept brushing off the questions, saying, “It’s just about the way the bones line up.” That felt pretty profound to me. In our culture, the standard of beauty is narrow, and every day we face countless reminders of the ways we fall short. When it comes down it, though, our society’s definition of beauty is simple and unromantic: it’s high cheekbones and a button nose and long legs and a small waist and so on and so on. We can only congratulate or punish ourselves so many times for the way our bones line up. Here are 50 vastly different definitions of beauty that I know to be true…
1. It is beautiful to speak another language. It is beautiful to try.
2. Beauty is long hair, and short hair; brown, black, pink, yellow, or white. Beauty is a smooth bald head.
3. If you have been to hell and back, your resilience is beautiful.
4. Asking questions — especially “why?” — is always beautiful. Why? Because curiosity is beautiful.
5. You are beautiful when you are afraid to do something, and you do it anyway.
6. Flat stomachs are beautiful, sure, but big, soft bellies are beautiful, too.
7. If you can string words together into a sentence, and you’re brave enough to let someone else read it, that’s beautiful.
8. Beauty is putting paint on canvas, or strumming a guitar, or baking bread, or dancing with your eyes closed.
9. Creating is always beautiful.
10. Your bare face in the morning is beautiful. Ask the person who loves you. It’s true.
11. Beauty is the slightly horrifying realization that you still remember all the lyrics to your favorite song from 6th grade.
12. Remember the time your best friend called you crying? Because only your voice could calm her down? That was beautiful.
13. Beauty is laughing so hard your eyes are watering and your stomach hurts and you’re yelling, “Stop, stop! Seriously, I’m peeing!” (Yes. Peeing your pants can be beautiful.)
14. Beauty is telling a teenage girl that she’s going to be OK.
15. Beauty is calling someone out for saying something hurtful, even if you weren’t the one getting hurt.
16. Your legs are beautiful. No, really. They are. Look at the curve of your calves, the muscles in your thighs, the peaks and valleys of your knee.
17. Letting go of a toxic relationship? Ah, what a beautiful relief!
18. You are beautiful when you rock out so hard at a concert that your neck is sore the next day.
19. Intelligence is beautiful.
20. Worldliness is beautiful.
21. Compassion is very, very beautiful.
22. Beauty is wearing an outfit so fierce that when people compliment you on it you say, “I know, right?” and then, “Oh, I mean, thank you.”
23. Strong opinions are beautiful.
24. Respecting other people’s strong opinions is beautiful too.
25. Beauty is your hometown, whether you love it or hate it, because it helped make you who you are.
26. Beauty is telling a dirty joke and laughing so hard nobody can hear the punchline.
27. Women who never wear makeup, whatever their reasons, are beautiful.
28. Women who always wear makeup, whatever their reasons, are beautiful.
29. Floating in the ocean is a beautiful feeling.
30. Your eyes are beautiful. Nobody else has eyes like yours. They are deep and inquisitive and instantly recognizable.
31. The way our bodies tell the truth–we blush when we are attracted to someone, we blink twice when we lie–is beautiful.
32. Orgasms are beautiful.
33. Beauty is being comfortable enough with someone else to be silent. As a character in the movie Best In Show put it, “We could talk or not talk forever and still find things to not talk about.”
34. Beauty is being able to walk gracefully in high heels.
35. Beauty is digging your bare feet into the sand.
36. Beauty is sitting very still with your thoughts.
37. It is beautiful to find the strength to ask for help when you need it. We all feel like we’re drowning sometimes, and we would all be glad to pull you from the rapids.
38. Beauty is loving your pet as much as they love you.
39. Beauty is a fresh flower in your hair.
40. The physical remnants of our life experiences–wrinkles, stretch marks, scars, and sun spots–are beautiful.
41. Wisdom is beautiful.
42. Humility is beautiful.
43. Beauty is the sweaty satisfaction of a hard workout.
44. It is beautiful to finally tell someone your secret.
45. It is beautiful to turn the worst night into the funniest story.
46. Beauty is being able to truly enjoy the food you eat.
47. It is beautiful to be grateful to all the strong women who came before you: the ones who raised you, the ones who fought for your rights, the ones who were burned at the stake because they were too powerful.
48. Giving birth is beautiful. (Messy, but beautiful.)
49. Freedom is beautiful. You are free to fill your life with the things that make you happy.
50. Happiness is beautiful.
How would you define beauty? When do you feel beautiful?