“The more I learn to love myself exactly how I am, the more beautiful I become to myself and to others. Because love overflows.”
What is beauty? Ask ten different people, get ten different answers. A quick Google search reveals that beauty is a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.
Merriam-Webster defines it as the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.
Ask Candice Appleby what beauty means to her, and she’ll tell you she prefers Webster’s definition. To her, beauty is what stimulates the mind and spirit by connecting us with what lies beneath the surface.
In a person, specifically, beauty isn’t about appearance, but about character and what builds it.
And therein lies the journey. A journey that doesn’t focus on the physical beauty of others, but rather on seeing our own inner beauty, and accepting the wonderful creations we are.
Says Candice, “I’m often my own worst enemy when it comes to feeling beautiful in any way. There are moments when I look in the mirror or make a mistake and I totally pick myself apart. Thankfully, I’ve learned to see that, in those moments, I’m listening to lies.”
For many of us, the lies can be countless. They’re in our minds, gathered from experience or carried over from childhood—like with Candice, who struggled with memories of being bullied for having red hair and freckles. Or, more recently, with lies of comparison from the media, suggesting the world wants her to look or act a certain way.
As she smiles and points out, “Here’s the victory: these lie-driven moments are becoming less and less. Once I shift my perspective back to truth, love wins and self-love grows. To me, truth is what God says and wants. His opinion matters most. And what God says is that I am wonderfully made! (Psalm 139:14). When I focus on that truth, I see myself through God’s eyes. I know that in all the world there is no one like me. And that . . . is a beautiful thing.”
Candice has used her experiences to grow. She’s healed from lies spoken over her in her youth and by the media. She builds on the wisdom gained and rejoices in transformation. As a result, her perception of beauty continues to change.
Ironically, Candice’s biggest “bully targets” as a child, her red hair and freckles, are what bring her the most compliments today. It’s symbolic, she says, of how the world tries to influence and discourage us from embracing the unique, wonderful and beautiful people we’re created to be.
But armed with the truth, life has changed.
In Candice’s words, “The more I learn to love myself exactly how I am, the more beautiful I become to myself and to others—because love overflows.”
Self-love is a journey. One that each of us has to experience for ourselves. There is beauty in growth, healing, transparency and vulnerability. Beauty is not a look, a shape, a number on a scale, or the “appearance” of having it all together.
True beauty is learning to love ourselves with kindness, gentleness and respect, one day at a time. Because the better we can truly love ourselves, the better we can love others.