Back in 2007, Dawn Vandehey was six months pregnant with their second child. Dawn was running errands and walking through a parking lot to her bank when a woman she had never seen before stuck her head out of her car window and said to Dawn, “I just want to tell you that you look beautiful.” As you can imagine, Dawn was walking on air the rest of the day because of that unsolicited and very sweet compliment, especially at a time when she, as she says, “Had a belly like the Buddha.”
Now, Dawn is a tall, athletic-looking, beautiful redhead with bright green eyes. Men notice her when she walks down the street. But this wasn’t a man. It was a woman and a stranger, and people as a rule in our society don’t pay others compliments out of the clear blue sky. Also, Dawn didn’t have her usual sleek figure; she was sporting what’s commonly called “the waddle”: that very pregnant walk where women in their third trimester jut their hips out in front of the rest of them in order to reduce some of the pressure on their back. It’s functional, but lacking in the come-hither department. Yet in spite of this, someone was moved to favor her with a spontaneous bit of recognition of her unique beauty. Why?
In great part, it was because Dawn loved being pregnant. She handled it with incredible poise and grace and joy. She enjoyed every aspect of it as much as she had enjoyed carrying their first daughter. She was serene and happy and felt the most beautiful she had ever felt. In other words, the Inner Beauty stage of Dawn’s Beauty-Brain Loop was in overdrive. Her self-esteem and contentment shone from her like a beacon, encouraging her to take care of her body and dress well and look as great as she could in spite of her pregnancy. Inner Beauty also gave her a radiant self-confidence, and it was this that we believe the unknown woman in the parking lot responded to.
Inner Beauty has the power to do that for all of us. It’s the place where true, lasting beauty begins, beauty that transcends time and trends and the inevitable changes that come with aging. Some women, regardless of their age or station in life, are always beautiful and magnetic: Catherine Deneuve, Jane Seymour, Tina Turner, Bette Midler. What do they have in common? They are carrying on a passionate love affair with themselves and their lives; they adore who and what they are and enjoy lives filled with meaning, purpose and challenge. Because of this they are driven to stay fit and healthy and care for their skin. Most importantly, they give off a contagious energy and fire, a hunger for living that makes us feel better about being part of the human race. Because if they can be so amazing at 50 or 60 or 70, maybe we can, too.
This might be the secret behind Inner Beauty’s power to make others see us as beautiful. When we feel that we’re the best we can be, others look at us and think, “Maybe I can be that fabulous someday, too.” Try some of these to capture that beauty:
- Reflecting on the good you have done for other people
- Looking at what you have achieved in your life rather than where you have failed
- Giving yourself one moment each day to think about your blessings
- Setting aside some time each week for quiet contemplation
- Finding ways to improve the lives of others, especially those less fortunate
- Taking optimal care of your health through diet and exercise
- Finding healthy ways to release stress—mediation, walking, prayer
- Making the physical space you inhabit the most beautiful it can be
Inner Beauty inspires and elevates. And you don’t have to be pregnant to have it. You just have to be happy.
Debi & Eva