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Bare Beauty

I was raised to believe beauty comes from within but in today’s society can you compete with others based on your inner beauty alone?

Beauty comes from a place where kindness and love live not mascara and lipstick. Beauty can be present in a simple smile you give to a passing stranger or the quiet thank you when someone holds the door. Beauty is defined as the quality that gives pleasure to the mind and inner senses. Beauty is associated with such properties as the harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry, truthfulness and originality. Does this definition hold up to what society wants us to believe true beauty is? As a fashion model, I am accepted or rejected based on the world's standard of beauty which can be hard to handle. If you don't have a strong sense of self, you can find yourself in a constant place of panic and anxiety believing you will never be pretty enough. I will forever be grateful to the women in my life who taught me their true meaning of beauty. It has nothing to do with the outward appearance, but everything to do with your soul and how you choose to touch the world with the light given to you when you took your first breath. My grandmother, Mrs. Annise Lou Lister, lived an amazing and humble life where beauty was measured in the amount of love, kindness, and peace that she had in her life. She taught me and my brother that in life you will only be measured by God’s hand not another man’s. Even though we came from different eras, we drew strength from each other. We found middle ground where some of her old school ideas on beauty were introduced to my progressive and fancy ideas. The combination equaled two generations embarking on a journey of discovering our continued beauty together. This eventually opened my grandmother’s eyes to see how the definition of beauty had evolved and, with it, her teachings and understanding did as well.

This leads me to my mother, Dr. Eleanor Lister Rogers. She’s my goddess, my queen, my confidant, my friend and my sparring partner. My mother had my grandmother’s ideal of beauty and was determined to instill that ideal in me even as society presented me something else. Beauty was becoming more expressive, risky, bold, bare and open on the cover of countless magazines through extravagant hair, make-up and clothing. This definition was different to my mom. She stayed focused on teaching me that true beauty would always come from what was in my heart, how I acted toward others, and my compassion for humanity. I still remember coming home from elementary school to tell my mother I wanted to be pretty for the school program. She was alarmed, but gently inquired for more information. I told her another student told me I wasn't pretty because my hair wasn't straight and didn’t “flow around" like hers. My mother was quite annoyed and very puzzled over how to explain what real beauty was without damaging my spirit and young desire to fit in. She gently told me that all of God’s children were beautiful in his sight and that no one could tell me the measure of my beauty. While she explained as best she could, I still didn’t understand. What I understood was that my mother was sending me back to school as she always did with two ponytails braided up. I was devastated. I told my grandmother and she told me the same thing that all of God's children were beautiful no matter our hair type. The next day came and went and my life moved forward, but this incident was embedded in my mind. I am not sure what I needed at that age. However, I am forever grateful that my mother and grandmother did not give in to my need to be what an eight year old girl said was beautiful, but stood on what beauty meant to our family. I remember this story like it was yesterday. It was my turning point on what beauty was to the world and where I began to search for what my beauty would become.

Interestingly enough, I stayed true to the ideals that my grandmother and mother taught me. I leave my home without makeup on. I wear my hair in its natural curl pattern. I show my flaws in all their colors without hesitation because I embrace my imperfections. I strongly believe that the formation or adornment on my face can look any number of ways but the love, generosity and caring nature of my heart will always speak volumes to my beauty today and forever. I hope that this piece challenges you on what your definition of real beauty is and opens you up to finding the real beauty in your heart & soul.

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