What Makes A Woman Beautiful?

“ABIGAIL, GET OVER HERE THIS MINUTE! STOP RUNNING AROUND; I’VE TOLD YOU FOR THE LAST TIME!” Loud-Talking Angry Dad (LTAD) bellowed over the Girls department.

“YOU ARE NOT LISTENING! GO TRY THIS DRESS ON RIGHT NOW!” he continued. Yelling across the room at his child, two or three levels above the volume that was necessary to be heard. I am confident the intensity of his rant was felt several departments over.

Well…as I mentioned in this post, shopping with the youngest offspring isn’t the most fabulous. On this occasion, we were on the hunt for a Father/Daughter Dance ensemble (as was the entire population of our city), and I meant to complete our mission and skedaddle pronto. We were still scouring picked-over racks for a dress for sister when the LTAD rolled up on the scene. After suffering through a half dozen of his barks, my nerves crackled like an electric fence. He made me so anxious that I bolted with dresses and my child flapping behind me. I sought sanctuary in the Juniors department at the front of the store. I parted the clothes on a circular rack, crawled inside, parked in its center, slid the clothes back together, drew a deep breath, hid from the world, and ate a peanut butter cookie.

Okay. Not really. But that would’ve been the best.

And do you have that friend who’s always critical?  Her address is in the negative space of life.  All the time. If it’s sunny, it’s too hot. If the kids are playing, they’re making too much of a mess. If she loses weight, it’s not where she wanted to lose it. GEEZ! I find that I refrain from noting anything positive…knowing it’ll be dashed to the ground like an overripe watermelon. And if I’m not really mindful…I’ll start to spin my own brand of negative in her presence.

Or what about the tiny girl twirling and singing to herself, oblivious to all the world around her? Have you ever noticed how she makes you feel? How your face smiles without thought and your insides delight in her delight? How you really just want to join her?

Although it’s not something we usually think much about, we elicit a response in those around us. People feel something when they are with us. We can evoke anxiety in others like Loud-Talking Angry Dad, negativity like Critical Friend, joy like Twirling Girl, or any other feeling. And tucked away in that truth we find the residence of beauty:

A woman in her glory, a woman of beauty, is a woman who is not striving to become beautiful or worthy or enough…A woman of true beauty is a woman who in the depths of her soul is at rest…She exudes a sense of calm, a sense of rest, and invites those around her to rest as well….A woman of true beauty offers others the grace to be and the room to become. – Captivating, John and Stasi Eldredge

A beautiful woman invites others to feel at peace around her. Beautiful is an easy smile. Nothing forced or fake about it. It’s a well-worn, favorite pair of jeans. It’s a drop your shoulders and breathe deeply kinda thing. It’s a woman who makes others more confident in her presence, especially her man. She is so at home in her own skin that others feel more comfortable in theirs around her. There is no striving in her that generates tension. There is no artifice that shames. In the presence of a beautiful woman our souls exhale and enjoy. This beauty looks like a tee shirt and shorts, flip flops, shades, sandy toes, and a genuine grin, whipped by wind-tossed hair. It has no weight limit and is timeless. Ageless. Beautiful is a tranquility that draws others and keeps them returning for the respite it extends. And when we allow the world to accost our rest, girls, we sacrifice the only authentic beauty we have to offer.

Who the hell am I?
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  1. Heather Chandler
    Heather ChandlerReply
    February 12, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    This is wonderful, Cookie! How I long to reject worldly beauty and embrace all that Jesus finds lovely!

    • Cookie Cawthon
      February 12, 2015 at 9:38 pm

      Heather, me too! What a battle to value the intangible and spiritual over the screaming tangibles all around. Thank you for reading!

  2. Susanne
    February 12, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    I think you know how I feel about the book Captivating by John and Staci Eldredge. Read it 10 years ago and it CHANGED.MY.LIFE. I am HIS image bearer… all things feminine and frilly… all things feeling and sensing and nurturing and loving… and LOVELY… THAT’S WHAT MAKES ME BEAUTIFUL!!!!!

  3. Susanne
    February 12, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    P.S. Love that you are Audrey Hepburn and I’m Marilyn Monroe!!! So different… yet both so beautiful!!! 😉

  4. Cindy Hale
    Cindy HaleReply
    February 12, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    Love this piece. Cookie you are a gifted writer. This writing speaks to me and many others I am sure.
    Love it! ❤️

    • Cookie Cawthon
      February 13, 2015 at 8:15 am

      Thank you, Cindy! I hope you are doing so well!

  5. Ally
    February 13, 2015 at 10:48 am

    What an awesome post and reminder! I have such a tendency to lean into the negative during the tough seasons – I tend to think that I “deserve” to indulge in those negative thoughts and comments because things aren’t going the way I would like them to. That I’m owed or entitled to act bratty, critical and depressed and can remain in a funk. I have realized during this especially tough season that my family is in, that I AM allowed to experience emotions, God gave them to me for a reason, but letting them rule my day and life isn’t ok, and it’s not fair to those around me – particularly my family. They feel what I feel. It’s hard for me to put on a happy face when I don’t feel like it, but when I’m reminded of the impact it has on those I love if I do (or don’t) – it makes it a lot easier to smile. Thank you for this post, friend! Love you!

    • Cookie Cawthon
      February 13, 2015 at 11:10 am

      Oh my goodness I love you with my whole heart! That’s waaaaay better than anything I wrote; thank you, Beautiful!

  6. LindZHaselden
    February 13, 2015 at 11:39 am

    Love this a whole lot! Thankful for you, my beautiful friend. And for your words. Such a sweet reminder of the responsibility we carry and influence we have when it comes to our attitudes. Love you!

  7. Martha Davis
    Martha DavisReply
    February 15, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    I love this post! When I married Rusty, he was so negative! I’m told it’s a trait that runs rampant in his mother’s family and this newlywed, who always saw the glass as completely full, didn’t know how to handle all the negativity that surrounded me when we visited his mother. I soon learned that I could tactfully talk the Negative Nellies into being more positive if I was calm and chose my words carefully.

    On one particular visit, out of the blue my new MIL said, “Emily (Rusty’s five year old) said she didn’t like Bo (11) and Dustin (six)!” She made it sound as though Emily had confided a painful secret when the truth was that my MIL had asked Emily if she liked Bo and Dustin, hoping for an answer that would reveal problems in our blended family.

    My immediate response was shock and anger. Then, I remembered her negative tendencies. I also knew her remark was completely false because whenever we went anywhere, Emily broke her neck to manipulate her way into the back seat so that she could sit smack dab in the middle of my two boys!

    When I felt my face cool, I calmly looked at my MIL, gave a little giggle, and said, “Oh, she looooves them! How many five year olds do you know who will admit to liking a boy?” I patted her shoulder and walked into another room.

    I handled every negative comment from her that way for 16 years. And when she was diagnosed with cancer, she confided in me, she wanted me to accompany her to the most important doctor visits, she sought me out and asked for my company even though I was the newest member of her family. I was with her at her passing and after her death, as the family shared memories, I knew more about her difficult life and marriage than any of her boys or their spouses.

    By confronting her negative attitudes in a kind and loving manner, we became friends. I grew to enjoy our visits instead of dreading her negativity. She became a dear and beautiful lady and friend.

    And my husband? I can’t remember the last time I heard negative words from his lips.

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