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What If I Said You’re Beautiful?

By November 16, 2020December 3rd, 2021No Comments

How does it feel to be beautiful? (Yes, I’m talking to you.) In my mind, that’s what you are, every last one of you. I’m not talking about what you look like—I’ve never laid eyes on you. I’m talking about who you are, with all your struggles and strengths, your doubts and dreams, your quirks and questions, your talents and troubles…. Beautiful. I don’t have to know you to say that. If you were born into this life, that’s all the evidence I need.

What I think of you, though, isn’t as important as what you think of you. If you don’t love yourself, if you’re not grateful to be alive, it’s apt to show, one way or another.

So, let me ask you now: Do you believe that you’re beautiful?

Last week I watched an hour-long video filmed by Thoraya Maronesy. Thoraya has a popular YouTube channel dedicated to interactive projects with strangers. Her stated goal is “to share as many real stories as possible in [her] lifetime.” Often she asks people on camera a tough question, like “What’s the loneliest you’ve ever felt?” “What’s your greatest challenge right now?” “Who is one stranger you still remember?” “How are you doing, really?” You get the idea.

For this episode, though, Thoraya recorded the reactions of random individuals when she told them simply, “You’re beautiful.” Most of her subjects—an endless parade of ages, colors, and backgrounds­­—were taken aback by her words. Nearly all of them seemed touched, in different ways.

When the video ended, I distilled those beautiful people into a poem:

When I Said You’re Beautiful

When I said You’re beautiful, you
stared at me without speaking.
Shook your head.
Chewed harder on your gum.
Opened your eyes wide.
Arched your brows.
Stepped back in shock.
Hid behind your shades.
Adjusted your hat.
Glanced away.
Tucked strands of hair behind your ears.
Scratched at your whiskers.
Struck a pose in fun.
Smiled behind your hand.
Beamed a grin.
Laughed as if I’d told a joke.
Gazed at me calmly.
Bit your lip.
Wiped away tears.
Covered your face.
Said     You’re calling me beautiful?
             What do you mean?
             Only my mom tells me that.
             I can’t talk about this….
             Precious to hear you say so—sometimes I forget.
             I’m beautiful in my own way.
             It’s one of those things you want to tell yourself
             but you never fully believe.
             I work on it. Every single day.
             You’ve got to be at peace with yourself.
             You’ve got to know your worth.
             Beauty comes from within.
             Everyone should wake up in the morning
             and like what they see in the mirror.
             The world needs more of this.
             That’s kind. That’s sweet.
             You just made my day.
             Thank you. Thank you.
             You’re beautiful, too.

In these days of isolation and social distancing, I’ve started to tell people, in a friendly way, that I think they’re beautiful. Nobody has to earn my praise. By seeing them as beautiful from the inside out, I prepare myself to treat them as beautiful, from the outside in.

Beautiful friends, how easily we can spread love and healing in this world, just by what our lips say.

Phyllis Cole-Dai

Phyllis Cole-Dai has authored or edited eleven books in multiple genres, including historical fiction, spiritual nonfiction and poetry. She lives in Brookings, South Dakota, USA.