About a month ago I was asked about the difference between pretty and beautiful. This was something that I had never really thought about before, but I struck at the complexity of this simple question. As I began to think about it, I realized that this is the question that sits in the minds of millions of young woman as they transition into adulthood. They are bombarded with images in magazines, on the internet, and on television of the ideal woman, and are taught to strive towards this idea of being pretty. They are often unaware that this is a fabricated reality, and does not really exist. This cannot be better explained than through the Dove Evolution campaign.

As I show this video to young woman who are striving towards the idea of pretty, they are shocked that the ideal that they are working towards exists only on the hard drive of the editor of the magazines.

This unreachable image has become the concept of “pretty”. It is something that exists on the outside, and is only on the surface. It has no depth, no meaning beyond the aesthetics. However, we are taught that this is what we should strive for, and it is represented in weight loss, beauty products, and even beer commercials. It is also unreachable because it does not actually exist.

If this is what it means to be “pretty”, it occurred to me that beautiful is much more. Being beautiful involves moving beyond the surface. It involves seeing with more than just our eyes and allowing people to see who we are. It includes our wants desires, and needs, and our interactions with others. Beautiful is allowing others to and to understand our vulnerabilities. Beautiful is engaging in intimate relationships, and allowing ourselves to trust others. Beautiful is the essence of who we are as an individual.

I wonder what the world would be like if this was the value that our children were taught.

I hope that by reading this you allow yourself to change the perception of instead of striving towards the “pretty”, you work to strive towards “beautiful”.

Copyright, 2012, Benjamin Wolf. Blog entries and other materials available on Hope & Healing For Life’s website are intended to stimulate thoughts and conversations.  If you or someone you know suffers from a mental illness, you are strongly encouraged to seek help from a mental health professional. For further information about this blog, or Hope & Healing For Life, contact Ben Wolf at 612-643-1920 or ben@hopeandhealingforlife.com.