“Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful!”

Dear President Trump,

Yesterday after the (vacation) morning dog walk we swung by the Green Lake Library so Laura could pick up a book she’d put on hold months ago (the one I found for her is going to come through the UW library system at some unknown point in the future). As per our usual, Laura left me in the car with the dogs since she was running in real quick. There’s not much going on in the library parking lot, especially on a holiday weekday, so I was just chilling – until I saw some silvery words on top of the book return box up near the building. I couldn’t make out the words from the car so I hopped out to see and they said something super nice – “Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful!” Really, isn’t that nice?

Wouldn’t it be great if we all felt free to be our own kinds of beautiful? Of course it would probably take a long time for human beings to detox from our hyper-conditioned beliefs about beauty before we could conceive of our own kinds of beautiful, but it’s still a lovely thing to adorn a book return box with.

Since I didn’t want to be dupe-ish, I just Googled the phrase and of course it comes up with 592 million hits (seriously), including song lyrics and a zillion stickers depicting the words surrounded by various configurations of hearts, butterflies, flowers, and kissy lips. There’s even a Google “People Also Ask” series of questions about the phrase so it’s clearly been around the block a bunch of times.

Whenever this happens, where I think there’s a neat original thing that turns out to be a serious retread, it feels like a pretty major letdown. In this case it’s both deflating and kind of funny – I have no idea whether whoever painstakingly wrote it out in big silver marker on the top of that book return box was aware that “Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful!” is a thing, but urging originality with a phrase that has 592 million Google hits is pretty ironic.

But setting aside my rather peevish letdown, I really would rather someone write that phrase in a random public place than something unkind or dumb (though the scrawled “Satin Rules” on the church across the street from us when we were in grad school was so hilarious I didn’t mind at all that it was really dumb).

Ok, sorry for the sidetrack. I’m back now….

Even if it isn’t original, the “beautiful” message is still a nice thing to put out into the universe and to ponder – what would we look like if we all felt free to be our own kinds of beautiful, and, even more importantly how would we feel? What if we weren’t constrained by our culturally sanctioned notions of beauty? And what if we were really, truly open to one another’s construals of beauty? What if we were simply content and confident in our own construals of beauty and didn’t feel the need to have them affirmed by others? If this latter idea were reality, the world would be a radically different place – I’m not sure I can even imagine what such a world would be like, but if it meant that each one’s perception of beauty (and of themselves, because, why not?) was grounded in a deep sense of ok-ness, that would be awesome.

May we be safe to be our own kinds of beautiful.
May we be happy for people who discover and revel in their beauty.
May we free ourselves up to imagine such radical well-being.
May we make peace with one another’s construals of beauty.

Tracy Simpson

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