For those of you who don't know, our daughter was born in Ghana and came home to be with us in 2014. Every parent is biased about the beauty and wonderfulness of their own children (and this especially holds true with daddies and daughters), but I think it's safe for me to say my daughter is beautiful.
But you don't have to take my word for it.
No, you don't have to take my word for it because everywhere I go with my daughter, complete strangers comment on her looks. And I mean everywhere. The grocery store, the Post Office, the school, restaurants. Even the street. We literally can't walk down the street without these comments.
"She's just pretty as a picture."
"Oh my gosh, she's the cutest thing I've ever seen."
"Look at that face. What a doll."
Even the scruffy, burly man with only five teeth in line behind me at Wal-Mart yesterday couldn't resist a comment: "&%*$ - she is bee-YOU-ti-ful!"
This has been going on since she came home and it's given me a lot to think about. At first, I was surprised because this kind of thing NEVER happened with my two boys. People never commented on their looks once they were past six months old, so I had never experienced this before. Then I started to wonder if the uniqueness and...how to put it?...exoticness? of her features was the reason she got so much attention. There aren't many black faces in rural Montana, after all.
That probably has something to do with it.
But it hasn't been easy to get my thoughts organized on this topic, because part of me chafes and cringes when people talk about my daughter's looks. Thoughts about women being objectified and beauty being idolized make me want to slap that burly Wal-Mart man in the face and sputter something ridiculous like, "Ex-cUUUse me? My daughter is not some...some...THING who exists merely for YOUR enjoyment you...you...REDNECK you!" (P.S. I would (probably) never say this out loud)
Another part of me takes completely unwarranted pride in the comments, as if I had anything to do with her good looks. Haha. Hahahahahahahaha.
Which leads me to another way of looking at the situation. Rather than being either offended or inordinately pleased, I've started thinking about beauty in a whole different way. You see, when I heard that man at Wal-Mart start talking about my daughter and I turned around, I did not see an exploiter of women or pervert of some kind. No. Not at all. I saw a guy stuck in town running errands and waiting in a loooong slow line who had found something that made him smile. Something that brightened his day. And it was my daughter.
That's what true beauty is, isn't it? False beauty can be exploited, destroyed, even manipulated (Photoshop for example), but true beauty stands incorruptible against all odds and brings joy to our lives. That's why you can be "unattractive" in the eyes of the world and still be beautiful. That's why you can lose your "good looks" to age or disease or whatever and still be beautiful. My good friend Miss Esther is a shining example of that truth and so is my daughter, because when that man at Wal-Mart just had to comment about her, it wasn't really because of her gorgeous features...it was because she brought him joy.
And that's beautiful.