Saturday, September 27, 2008

Achieving Real Beauty

Over at In God's Image, I recently wrote about my reluctance with having my daughters grow up to be beautiful women. I explained why:
“I've seen too many unhappy, beautiful girls to think it's something we should want (just think of so many of the Hollywood starlets who seem to have it all and end up in drug rehab programs or in an endless game of marriage roulette or with eating disorders). It's too exhausting to maintain beauty. Once you have it (or society says you do), you cling to it, thinking it's all you've got. Once you hit a size 0, you think that's what you have to stay to be anything (ironic isn't it that a size 0 used to be my favorite size because it made me feel like I was important when that number means an absence of anything). "

Then, later in the week, I was perusing an old prayer journal where I’d scribbled down “Canticle of Mary” and beside it the words “achieving real beauty.” This intrigued me. I read the Canticle of Mary or Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), and the first and perhaps most famous lines jumped out at me: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

I’ve always thought of Mary as beautiful. But it’s not because she wears flashy clothes, has lustrous hair and flawless skin, or a perfect body. It’s because her soul – her entire being – proclaims the greatness of the Lord. She is what every woman should strive to be: pious, humble, gentle but strong, feminine and blessed.

Once my preschooler was gazing up at a statue of Our Lady when she said, “Mommy, isn’t she pretty?”

“Yes,” I said. She’s the most beautiful woman in the world.

So I stand corrected. I do want my girls to be beautiful. As beautiful and lovely and worthy of roses as Mary.