By the time I had walked the mile and a half that separated the class from my home, I was fully convinced my face resembled that of a Neanderthal, complete with jutting chin, giant nose, and, of course, bushy eyebrows. Upon entering the house, I caught a glimpse of a woman in the mirror and it took me a moment to recognize myself. I was sincerely surprised; I really wasn’t nearly as ugly as I had envisioned. Much to my honest amazement, my eyebrows really weren’t that bushy, despite the fact they had never been plucked.
The road to my ugly self-perception was a long and somewhat painful one. During high school I warmed the bench at school dances and was rarely invited to date. Convinced things would change in college, I went to BYU with high social hopes, only to discover some things never change. Five university years and two mission years later I graduated with a bachelor’s degree and without a wedding ring. My social life as a single young adult in Ogden was more of the same; I was a wall flower at dances and a finder-of-my-own-entertainment on weekends. Having long ago given up on any illusions of attractiveness, I knew my only hope was a good personality and so I focused entirely on developing that. I couldn’t change my face, by darn, but I could become kind, genuine, and interesting, right?!?
I was twenty-nine and ugly. He was twenty-eight and attractive. In fact, the first thing I thought when I saw him for the first time, was “He will never ask me out again; he is much too preppy for me.” Rich, dark hair stylishly gelled, sporty leather shoes, a faded denim shirt (very “in” at the time)—to me he was the exact incarnate example of the type of men who never asked me out.
“You are beautiful,” he said to me on our first date.
And he asked me out again. And he said again (and again), “You are beautiful.”
Nearly twenty years later he is still saying it. “You are beautiful” he tells me. He really believes it. And, now, so do I.
Believing that I am attractive has changed me. Whether or not I am truly pretty is irrelevant. Because he believes I am beautiful, I believe it too and I take that belief with me wherever I go. I carry myself differently and interact differently with others. I speak with the mechanic more confidently, smile at the bank teller with greater surety, and walk into a room of strangers with increased ease; my voice is warmer, my handshake firmer, my stride less hesitant. No longer caught in my self-made web of insecurity, I am freer to give, to share, to listen and to love Lance’s belief in my beauty has made me a more beautiful person.
Recently I was assembling a scrapbook about our Cancun adventure. I came across some very ugly pictures of a woman about my age and height and it took me a minute to recognize myself. I was sincerely surprised; I was much more unattractive than I had envisioned. And then I dismissed the photos. I know I am beautiful; Lance has made me so.
Who will you make beautiful?