Since she was a tiny girl with mousy brown hair her mother assured her she was beautiful. So beautiful that it didn’t matter if her teeth battled each other for room and wearing a winter sweater brought every ounce of static electricity from the central power grid directly to her little melon. Her radiance came from within and that glorious energy emanated outwardly from her. Looks didn’t matter. The essence of who she was did.
Or so her mother said.
But it seems all girls want to be beautiful and have others notice their looks, the measures of which are learned early on. Such unrealistic expectations are stressed. Attraction. Little girls and boys see and hear it all around them … what they are supposed to be, how they are to look and act.
If only these young women knew their true worth, her mother thought, they wouldn’t be so obsessed staying young and beautiful. They would search for happiness instead of the fountain of youth, for that story is just a myth after all. Other qualities are much more important.
Mother shook her head and said, “What really matters is who you are as a person and who you are inside.” She talked about how beauty was fleeting and it was more important to have power and grace — concepts hard for a girl to understand.
Strength is not found in a fountain, or we would all drink the water.
“You must listen and hear me. Take these words to heart,” her mom said. She’d received her own maternal advice as a young woman. Mother passed on gracious words bestowed upon her many years prior. “Anyone who would tell you otherwise is a soul sucker, a shark, a wobbegong. That girl will ambush you. Her words are sharp and will tear at your heart. She hides at the bottom. Swim away from her,” her own mother said.
Her wisest advice was that being happy requires a quiet stillness.
Grandmother died with wrinkled skin and thin hair, dulled from her many years on earth. That time span held a million beautiful days full of energy-supplying sunshine. Those were years full of love and compassion spent working to help others and striving for what was fair and right. Her example shown brightly to her family and taught them what was true and important.
The body that carried her through the years had been robust from meals longingly prepared for family celebrations. Eating had become a sedentary condition of life, but exercise wasn’t as important an affair in her day. Work was exercise … caring for children and providing for the family. Dieting took more willpower than she’d allowed herself. She called it being “fat and happy.” Ironically, weight didn’t matter so much when disease withered away her body to nothing.
She was old and no longer met those ridiculous measures of attraction. Age changes a woman’s priorities. Her granddaughter thought she was the most beautiful woman who ever lived, with the brightest smile and kindest heart of anyone she’d ever known. So few human beings exemplify that beauty.
This post was inspired by the Studio 30+ writing prompts shark and fleeting and the song Young and Beautiful.
“Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful? Will you still love me when I’ve got nothing left but my aching soul?”
Lana Del Rey