The other day, as I was catching up on blogs, I came across a post from Meg Sorick which included the following quote:
She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful for the way she thought. She was beautiful for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful deep down to her soul. ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
I loved Meg’s take on the quote and how it related to her writing, but it’s something that I have thought a lot about in my own life, as well as in my writing.
In my writing, sometimes my main character isn’t described physically in a lot of detail. As some of my friends have read those works, I asked if they noticed and they didn’t. They all kind of imagined themselves in the role, which makes sense as it’s first-person writing. I want to allow the reader to fill in the blank with whatever physical characteristics they fantasize about or apply to them.
But I realize that this method doesn’t work for everyone, and sometimes I write very detailed descriptions of the characters. But I notice when I read novels, I tend to get bored reading a paragraph long description of physical characteristics. I’m fine if it comes out gradually, but even in prominent name writer’s books, sometimes it gets to be too much for me.
But let’s talk about me for a minute (since it’s my blog and all). I have *always* had a problem with self-image. I know some of you reading this know what I’m talking about. I constantly find myself thinking that my belly has grown in the past few years, and that my thighs are just so massive, and that I wish the flab on my arms would go away. I go to the gym when my physical abilities allow me to. I work in a job where I’m on my feet all day. I try to eat healthy as often as I can. It’s just one of those things.
And yet, when I look at the people I date, really look at them, they aren’t any more perfect than I am. But I find each one of them sexy and/or cute. And each one has a physical characteristic (or two) that I am really attracted to, but what really draws me to these people is who they are on the inside and how they make me feel. What makes me care about someone is not what they look like, but who they are.
So why can’t I apply that same logic to my own looks? My partners frequently tell me that I am beautiful or sexy. I know that I make people smile. One of my best friends calls me Sunshine. But sometimes (okay, most of the time), I have trouble seeing it. But I try to remember quotes like this one, which stuck out in my mind for days. I try to see myself as others see me. And I try to remind myself that it’s not about my big thighs or my pudgy belly, but the way I make others feel that really matter.