"It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry, or fine clothes that should make you beautiful. No, your beauty should come from within you--the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. This beauty will never disappear and is worth much to God." -1 Peter 3:3-4 "For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only kind words; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone." -Audrey Hepburn "Having an aura of menace is like having a pet weasel, because you rarely meet someone who has one, and when you do, it makes you want to hide under the coffee table." -Lemony Snicket I used to have a really messed up sense of what beauty was. When I was in high school, all I wanted to do was look like a Victoria's Secret model. I wanted to be tall, blonde, and super skinny with big boobs and designer clothes. I really hated my curly hair, big hips, and short stature. It didn't necessarily matter to me what kind of person this "beautiful person" was inside. Beauty to me was all kinds of physical. And let's face it, at 5' tall, no one was knocking my door down to hire me to model on their runway. I maintained this view of beauty all the way through college. And through college, the farther I got away from my perceived standard of beauty, the worse I felt about myself. And then I decided to start my journey. And through this whole journey, I realized that my perception of beauty changed completely. Rather than placing value on someone's physical appearance, I started to really place value on their qualities. Some of the most beautiful people I've met, I met while they were at their physical worst. Exhausted, sweating, out of breath, drained of strength. And I couldn't help but admire their determination, drive, dedication, and commitment to their health. Slowly, I started to see qualities in people and how they applied them to their own everyday lives. Inside and outside of the box. And (arguably even more slowly) I changed the way I looked at myself, too. Rather than counting all the ways that I don't meet society's standard of beauty, I started counting all the things about me that are good and admirable. I started to like my curly hair because I can wake up, not brush it and act like I meant for it to look like that (this is maybe just because I'm lazy sometimes). I like my baby makin' hips because…uh, if I ever wanna have a kid, they're probably gonna help with that (I assume, I actually know nothing about pregnancy or delivery of a child. Don't judge). I dig being short because I'm actually fun sized and I fit easily in most overhead storage compartments. In addition to all that, I can honestly say that I try to be a good person, do the right thing and I try to be happy everyday. Mama Nancy always says the happiest girls are the prettiest girls. This journey has made me realize that, no matter how physically pretty you may be considered, if you don't have the goodness in character to back that shiz up, it is for nought. People rarely (read: never) want to associate with pretty people who do/say ugly things. I'm still learning, still figuring things out, still working. But I'm so blessed to have had people that have helped me figure this out. For me.