The Beauty Within

On Friday, February 10th, August McLaughlin is hosting the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest. Make sure you stop by her blog. There are prizes to be won, but even more important, you can read inspirational stories about women and men. Tales about beauty, not on the outside, but on the inside where it counts the most.

My mother was a knockout. She didn’t have to work at it. In fact, to this day, she’s one of the least vain women I know. My dad carried this picture of her around in his wallet until the day he died. He would often pull it out, show it to others, and brag about the amazing woman he’d married.

Beside my mother and two younger sisters, I felt like a giant, tall and awkward and gangly. I slouched to hide my height. I hid in the background of pictures to hide my ugliness. I often imagined I was adopted into the family because I didn’t look like I belonged.

It was years later that I realized I’d taken after my dad’s side of the family. The women there were tall and stocky. They had meat on their bones and calves that weren’t small and delicate. But they were sweet and kind and loving.

My mother is now 83, has shrunk, and barely comes up to my shoulder. My sisters are still smaller than me. But I’m no longer that awkward, ugly teen. I’ve grown into myself, and learned that generosity of spirit is far more important than looking like the supermodel I once wished to be.

The greatest gift you can give to yourself is acceptance. Be comfortable within. Be sweet and kind and loving, and you will always be beautiful to me.

Do you have a story to share? On Friday, make sure you stop by August McLaughlin’s blog for the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest. I’ll see you there. :)


  1. That’s beautiful Sheila. I agree, that is one of the best things you can go. Wonderful message.
    Debra Kristi recently posted..Defining Beauty of a WomanMy Profile

    • Thanks, Debra. And thanks for stopping by. :)

  2. Hi Sheila! Your post resonates with me because I will always recall my father telling me I was getting buck teeth because I sucked my thumb. He’d tell me over and over and over until I believed I DID have buck teeth. Well, I never did have buck teeth, never needed braces and my teeth are perfectly straight. Now this ties is with the fact that one’s self-image is influenced not only by what others say to us but what we think of ourselves by looking in the mirror. I obviously looked in the mirror and believed I had messed up teeth. Over time I changed my thinking and no longer am that awkward kid, but what we hear and what we tell ourselves can sometimes change the reality of what really IS.
    Patricia Yager Delagrange recently posted..The Orca WhaleMy Profile

    • So true, Patti. When we finally silence the negative voices inside and outside our head, we can love ourselves freely. :)

      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Sheila, unlike your family, the only person of our tribe who was short was my mom. My dad and two brothers were tall and YEP … so was this gal. Trouble was that I grew to my full adult height by junior high school, was always the last girl on line and walked around for years trying to look shorter :)

    Most of us grow into our self-images when we learn to be comfortable with who we are.

    • Junior high is the hardest time to be “different”. If we could only take our acceptance of our self image back to those young girls we were, can you imagine what we could teach them? OTOH, Florence, they probably wouldn’t listen to us anyway. :)

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • And the sooner in life we can learn that message, the happier we’ll be.

      Thanks for stopping by, Coleen. :)

  4. This is perfect Sheila – Thank you: “The greatest gift you can give to yourself is acceptance. Be comfortable within. Be sweet and kind and loving, and you will always be beautiful to me.”
    Stacy S. Jensen recently posted..Thankful Thursday: Supportive networkMy Profile

    • For me, every word rings true, Stacy. :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Acceptance is one of the greatest gifts and also one of the most difficult to give yourself. I find that I’m much more generous with others, seeing the lovely qualities about them, than I am about myself. It’s a process :)
    Marcy Kennedy recently posted..The Lie of Helen of TroyMy Profile

    • That is so true, Marcy. It’s far easier to accept faults in others than it is in ourselves. But I think as we accept the imperfections in others, it helps us accept the ones in ourselves.

      Thanks for stopping in. :)

  6. Great Post, Sheila,

    Acceptance of self and of others must be one of the toughest things to learn about life. And Marcy’s right, we’re tougher with ourselves than we are with others.

    Love you guys.
    CC MacKenzie recently posted..What Are You Wearing?My Profile

    • I just finished reading your What Are You Wearing post, CC, and need to find out what type of clothing uggs are, because I think I want some. Comfort always helps me accept myself.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

    • It would be nice if we could all grow into ourselves before those difficult teen years. :)

      Thanks for stopping by, Susie!

    • That she is, August.

      And I just want to thank you so much for hosting this amazing blogfest. There are so many wonderful and inspiring stories to read. :)

    • From one warm, lovely, and wise woman to another, thank you for the wonderful words, Alicia. :)

  7. The hindsight of wisdom and acceptance is indeed beautiful. Fantastic post!

    • Ah, yes, if we only could take back this knowledge to our teen self, how wonderful it would be. :)

      Thanks for stopping by, Julie.

  8. What great pictures of you and your family, Sheila! Your mom is, indeed, a knockout! And take it from someone caught between petite and average…tall is good. You don’t have to find a box of spaghetti in the grocery store and use it to try and pull another item on the top shelf forward…and knock it down because you can’t reach it.

    Everything you say in this post about acceptance is true. It’s too bad it’s something most of us can’t do until we’re older, and away from the ‘beautiful people’ in school for awhile.

    It took me a long time to accept the fact that I’d gotten shortchanged in the physical beauty department. And it really bothered me back then. But there came a turning point where I just didn’t care anymore. I didn’t shatter mirrors when I looked at them….and I realized that I’m a pretty nice person. That works for me. :)
    Kristy K. James recently posted..Fire the Food Police! (and ROW80 update)My Profile

    • I’m really not that tall, Kristy, just taller than the rest of the women in my family. And it seemed I was one of those teens who grew into her full height before the other girls in school.

      There is no shortchanging in the physical beauty department because inner beauty is what makes us beautiful on the outside. :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Sheila, I was the tallest kid in my 6th grade class, and rather proud of it. But everyone else grew taller and I never grew another millimeter! Now, everyone over the age of ten is taller than me. So, with apologies to Sophie Tucker, I’ve been short and I’ve been tall, and tall is ever so much better!
    Diane Capri recently posted..Diane Capri Reveals Maxine Paetro (and James Patterson)My Profile

    • Diane, I’ve always wanted to be a six foot goddess but we do learn to deal with what we’re handed. I somehow pictured you as one of those six foot goddesses, too. That means you have one heck of an online presence, lady. :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Hi Sheila, we tall girls with meat on our bones have to stick together. :) Great post.
    Prudence MacLeod recently posted..Beauty of a WomanMy Profile

    • I agree. :)

      Thanks for stopping in, Prudence!

  11. Another beautiful lady with another beautiful message! I love that so many women today are taking the time to appreciate the beauty around them and from within!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • I’ve enjoyed reading so many wonderful posts today, Jansen. It’s amazing how sharing and caring everyone is.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  12. “I’ve grown into myself, and learned that generosity of spirit is far more important than looking like the supermodel I once wished to be.”


    And generosity of spirit? You’ve got it, Sheila.

    • You are so kind, Pat, I appreciate your words.

      Thanks for joining me today. :)

    • Accepting and liking ourselves is the key, isn’t it, Bettina?

      Thanks for joining me today. :)

  13. “The greatest gift you can give to yourself is acceptance. Be comfortable within. Be sweet and kind and loving, and you will always be beautiful to me.”

    Sheila, this made me tear up! Thank you for your story!
    Ginger Calem recently posted..Dear thighs … we need to talk.My Profile

    • The last sentence always makes me think of my grandma, who was such a sweet woman. Glad you enjoyed the post, Ginger.

      Thanks for joining me today. :)

  14. Love those old photos, Sheila! It’s wonderful to see you stand tall now, figuratively and literally.
    Debra Eve recently posted..Unearthing the Beauty of a WomanMy Profile

    • Looking at old photos always brings back so many memories, doesn’t it, Debra?

      Thanks for joining me today. :)

    • Thank you so much, Catherine. And thanks for joining me today. :)

  15. Sheila, I agree with Ginger. The greatest gift to give to ourselves – wow. Teary and working on remembering this. Thank you, beautiful lady, for sharing this lovely take on the beauty of a woman.
    Lynette M Burrows recently posted..A Blogfest You Can’t Miss!My Profile

    • It’s been such a pleasure to read so many awesome posts. What a special day August created.

      Thanks for joining me today, Lynette. :)

  16. Whenever I see your profile picture, read your posts or tweets, I see a beautiful person. It is so hard for me to imagine you ever felt that you were akward and gangly. But I think we can all relate to those type of feelings as some point. Thanks for sharing!

    • Kara, what a sweetheart you are. Thanks so much for the kind words. And thanks for stopping by. :)

  17. How interesting that in a world of smaller women, you felt awkward and too-tall. In my family, I am the short one and always enivied the other’s height.

    I also have come to terms with my lack of stature and appreciate myself for who I am.

    One of the perks of growing older is self-awareness and some measure of wisdom.
    sharon k owen recently posted..THE BEAUTY OF A WOMANMy Profile

    • “One of the perks of growing older is self-awareness and some measure of wisdom.”

      This is so true and so well said. Thanks for sharing it with use, Sharon!

  18. Thank you for sharing your story, Sheila. I love how you grew into yourself, and I really love this line, “The greatest gift you can give to yourself is acceptance.” It’s so true.

  19. If we only knew this truth when we were teens, right, Lynn?

    Thanks for stopping by. :)


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