Written April 18, 2018
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The pictures I took last night on my way home are a prime example of beauty at it’s finest. Whereas with most things, beauty is often defined in many ways depending on the circumstance and situation, and sometimes doesn’t get to the core of what real beauty is all about.
Years ago when I was in the Air Force, we were contacted by the Ms. Florida Association asking for a group of Airmen that would be willing to be escorts for contestants at an upcoming pageant that was being held in Tampa, FL. Obviously, it didn’t take long to fill up that list and soon we are on our way to the event. When we were walked to the prep room where we would meet the ladies that we would be escorting, a sense of excitement was shared amongst the group. The doors opened and there they were.
What we were met with was not what you would have expected in the traditional sense of a beauty pageant. All of these women were in wheelchairs. We had been invited to be escorts for contestants in the Ms. Florida Wheelchair Pageant. There were women of all ages in beautiful gowns, with beautiful hair and make-up. The only difference was that they were in wheelchairs.
Immediately, we had to throw out societal norms and focus on the job at hand and were introduced to each woman that we would be escorting for the night. Any thought that this night would be different than any other pageant quickly melted away as we spoke and bonded with our assigned contestant. You see, the beauty of their passion, their drive and their acceptance that they were no different than anyone else as a person quickly resonated with all of us and we were determined to do everything possible to help our contestant win.
As we went through the night I was taken back by the stories that each contestant told in their prepared remarks. I was enthralled with their answers to questions they were asked. I was amazed by their poise, talent and bravery as they embraced their situation and made their lives better for it. That in itself was beauty personified.
In some ways we have come to think of beauty as what we see on the cover of a glamour magazine, a model walking down a runway or a star on the red carpet. While they may all signify features that may be beautiful, in the end it doesn’t encompass what beauty is as a whole. Beauty is created from the heart. It is when you leave someone and you feel better for having been in their presence. It’s when they radiate goodness, caring and compassion. True beauty is when you embrace who you are, love yourself and strive to make your world a little better place.
That night was a defining moment for me. I stayed in contact with my contestant for many years. She didn’t win, but in my heart she was a winner as was every woman who rode across that stage. Take a few moments today and remind yourself of your beauty. It’s there…just embrace it and remember to be the reason someone smiles today.