(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 22 December 2010)
While my oldest daughter, who is stunningly beautiful, was growing up, I always reminded her that no matter how beautiful she is on the outside, if she is ugly on the inside…then she is just plain ugly. Today she is a beautiful woman – on the outside and the inside. My hope is to convey this same message to the girls growing up today.
Young women growing up today spend so much time fretting about their hair, makeup, clothes, shoes, etc. They primp incessantly; yet I wonder if they spend any time at all grooming their manners, their kindness or their generosity. Being rude seems en vogue lately – and I think it is just ugly.
With rude role models in the media and in real life, it seems a natural evolution for young women to follow the examples set for them. I have seen some young women who are very beautiful on the outside, but their dominant behaviour is malicious and spiteful. It is a very ugly thing to watch.
Even worse, these women justify their mean and nasty actions by saying they are just “keeping it real.” Absolute nonsense! Disregard for the feelings of others is not keeping it real – it is keeping everything about one self-absorbed person. When that ugly girl needs to have others who are honestly real around for support, she will find herself all alone.
Let’s face it, ugly is as ugly does. Webster’s Dictionary defines ugly as “offensive or unpleasant to any sense.” I find mean, self-centred, obnoxious, malicious and spiteful girls to be very ugly. In fact, I do not waste my time around such young women or grown women. I have better things to do with my time than to squander it on people who do not give a second thought about hurting others.
On December 19, The Huffington Post published an article entitled, “Narcissism: The New Normal?” This piece talks about the fact that narcissism “has become so much a part of our culture, particularly our parenting, that narcissistic traits are considered normal — so much so that if we don’t have a reality show named after us, we use our own phones or video up-links to transmit our private lives to anyone from Alaska to Antarctica who will watch.”
As a society, are we raising our children – both boys and girls – to be narcissists? Are we actually training the next generation to be ugly? The laissez-faire attitude of adults toward ugly behaviour from young people is a perfect example that this is the case. Being rude and mean is not cute or cool – it is ugly. And no amount of physically attractive features can make a person who is ugly on the inside an appealing person to be around.
The aforementioned article continued, “People — particularly parents — often confuse true authority with meanness of spirit. They are not the same thing. In fact, a parent who has no authority, who cedes his position to his child, has done that child a great disservice. Authority is benevolent, even though it demands respect. It is loving, even though it will not accept bad behaviour. It is structured, which is not the same as strict and certainly does not mean fearsome…And, finally, benevolent authority is critical if we’re going to have anything but a generation of unabashedly self-centered, entitled children who believe the whole world revolves around their desires.”
How much time do young women today spend helping others? How much time do they spend with an elderly relative who cannot leave the house? How much volunteer time is committed to help orphans, the homeless or the poor? Is there any time for the disabled neighbour who needs groceries from the store? Are these activities even important anymore? Or do we only teach our young women to think about themselves all the time?
Raising young women to be grounded and well-rounded adults who give back to the community requires parents to teach them to realise the importance of their internal beauty. Regardless of the fact that society heedlessly rewards women for being beautiful on the outside (i.e. beauty pageants), the internal beauty of a woman is far more important to the woman herself – and to society as a whole.
A woman who is ugly on the inside will one day have a harsh awakening when she realises the world does not, in fact, revolve around her. She will have difficulty forming and maintaining relationships and she will feel lonely because her ugly ways have alienated even those who truly care about her.
In the community, the woman who is beautiful on the outside will get stares, catcalls and the attention of the males, but unless she contributes to the community with more than her physical appeal, what service does that woman provide for humanity? What good has she done to make the world a better place? What legacy of significance has she left for the next generation?
Women have so much more to offer the world than just external beauty. Women have brilliant minds, creative spirits, political prowess, spiritual intuition, business expertise and commanding leadership skills. These are the far more vital features for which women should be rewarded – not something as shallow and trivial as outward beauty.
A woman’s outward beauty is a biological endowment. The woman has no control over what society deems beautiful on the outside or whether she was born to be beautiful. However, the parents and the young woman craft the internal beauty. The older the girl gets, the more responsibility she assumes for her internal beauty. A woman who has moulded herself to be beautiful on the inside should garner far more admiration from society than one who happened to be born with outward beauty.
While the television, pop stars, magazines, commercials and billboards tell our daughters that outside beauty is important, we need to make sure they understand their internal beauty is even more important.