Billboard Beauties

by Katelyn McNeil

Every Monday I walk to Michigan Avenue, turn left, walk one more block and stop. My destination: the bus stop. And every week while I stand facing the street, I stare at them.

Their long hair that blows gently behind them, their long legs that stretch the lengths of the windows they cover up. These models with arms that hang so gracefully and stomachs that look so smooth.  I stare at their faces and analyze the angles.

They are beautiful, I think.

But are they beautiful beyond their bodies?

So often we look at a model-esque woman and remark, “She is beautiful!” But how?  Is that tall, lean, ivory-skinned, fine-featured person beautiful beyond her body? Perhaps you’re thinking this is an incredulous question. Let’s not be too hasty though; let’s think. If what we mean by commenting, “She is beautiful” is that she looks beautiful we have not said what we mean.

I think what we often unknowingly do, is make statements about the character of other women based on what they look like.  When really, we have no basis for doing so! I say, “Wow, she is beautiful” what I really mean is “Wow, she looks beautiful”.

One word.

A difference in one word changes everything about the meaning of that sentence. The way we use our words matters.  We’ve said things like this for so long that we’ve modpodged character and cosmetology! This linguistic laziness is partially to blame for the subtle slide in our way of thinking. Just because one looks beautiful does not mean she is beautiful.    

When we compliment, often we do it in “elevator talk”. We compliment on the superficial, the insignificant.

“You’re shoes are so cute! I love the buckle.”

“I love your hair today, it looks so good!”

“Oh, I love the smokey-eye look you’ve got going. So classy!”

What does that mean? And who cares?

Let’s compliment the women in our lives on things that actually matter. While writing this, a quote came to mind from the movie 13 Going on 30. The main character wants her co-workers to remember “Real women, who are smart and pretty and happy to be who they are” not the photoshopped beauties that stare at us from billboards. She says that, “These are the women to look up to…we need to remember what used to be good. If we don’t, we won’t recognize it even if it hits us between the eyes.”

We have to remember what is good and beautiful about women. We have to remember the things about our friends, moms, and sisters that are important.  The things that make them who they are, the things that we absolutely love and wouldn’t change about them for anything.

Take my friend Jamie for example. Jamie loves words, and the things they can and do mean. She can write poetry and songs in ways that move people’s hearts. She loves to sing and dance and smile. She has a mind with the capability to process and enjoy the abstract. She is loyal, kind and patient. She loves to make people laugh. She loves to laugh at herself. She follows God with her heart. She loves to love and be loved.

She is so much more than her cute, artsy clothes. She has more depth than her energetic smile and bright blue eyes. She is not perfect, but she is a woman, whole and beautifully interesting. We all have these kinds of women in our lives. We just have to remember and acknowledge them for who they are.

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One response to “Billboard Beauties

  1. I love so much what this blog is and represents. Way to go! I feel incredibly blessed to have run across such honesty and purity in a world of such confusion. Thank you so much for what you do!

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