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On Beauty

I was sitting beside the pool the other day, and a most beautiful woman caught my attention.  There she stood, in her bathing suit, resting a tiny baby in her arms.  The baby perched contentedly on the protruding belly that had just created its life.  Beauty-- in the deepest, holiest way that I've ever seen.  I wanted to stare forever; and kept this woman in my heart for days.

This scene caused serious reflection for me.

We all agree that baby girls are beautiful and perfect in every way.  This adoration continues as we grow, through every stage of our changing body... but then we reach early adulthood, and what happens?   Quite suddenly, we halt the adoration of the continued growth and change and strive--- for the rest of our lives--- to achieve the young, thin, pre-maternal body.

I could not stop thinking about how fundamentally CRAZY we are as a society!  How crazy we are to miss the breathtaking beauty of a postpartum body- with stretched-out skin and worn-out breasts, and sleepy, baggy eyes.  The 45-year-old body, feeling tired of life's marathon, and yet, still hopeful of the possibilities ahead.  How absolutely crazy we are to overlook the beauty of a 60-year-old body!  Its edges softened by growth; innumerable acts of service and courage held in its hips and thighs.  And what about the body of a 75-year-old?  New pains now reveal the many sacrifices and stories written along the way.  I visualize the skin that hangs low from my 92-year-old grandmother's face, her wrinkles marking the sage wisdom held in her eyes, and I ask...

HOW IS THAT NOT ABSOLUTELY STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL?!?

It is pure insanity that we overlook ALL of it-- all of the beauty that is resplendent in every stage of growth in a woman's life-- simply trying to reach for one very narrow ideal.

It is shocking how irrational it is.
And yet, we all go on doing it.

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