What Does It Mean To Be Beautiful?

What does it mean to be beautiful? Is beauty only for sunsets, flowers, and fine art? Is beauty only for the model on the cover of the fashion magazine? Is beauty reserved for women, or can a man be beautiful too?

These were the questions I brought to Lee Wolfe Blum’s new book, Brave is the New Beautiful (David C Cook, 2017). As I read, I took note of the way she defines and describes beauty throughout her book.

For Blum, beauty is more than skin deep, more than physical. She writes:

I would like to challenge this cultural idea that beauty is defined by a fit body or gap-spaced thighs. I would like to put an end to the obsession with fat and the yearning for thinness. I’m not saying we shouldn’t take care of the bodies God gave us. But I am saying we need to change the question from “Do I look fat?” to “Am I being authentically me? Am I being true to who God made me to be?”

Because I see beauty when I see a woman bravely being herself. (31)

Beauty means authenticity:

Beauty is the woman who sees her brokenness and acknowledges the scars of life but doesn’t try to cover them up or hide behind them. (32)

Beauty is a spiritual quality:

I believe beauty is being able to see God in people. Even if you don’t like them, if you look and see God created them, they have worth. They matter. (88)

In my view, these more-than-physical qualities of authenticity and respect for others are beautiful qualities for all people. It’s not only women who can have beautiful souls and beautiful ways of relating to others.

But in this book, Blum writes specifically for and about women.

She skillfully weaves her own story with stories of other women whose bravery makes them beautiful. Like Amy, who–along with other women–testifies against her childhood gymnastics coach who is then convicted on seven charges of sex crimes. And Sarah, who was adopted into a loving family, and later as an adult reconnects with biological family members in Vietnam. And Nicole, who returns from international ministry in Egypt when her father undergoes quadruple bypass surgery. These and many other women share their brave and beautiful stories in chapters on Shifting, Reinventing, Choosing, Trusting, Rising, and more.

This book is an easy and enjoyable read, full of stories that encourage women to discover and own their own bravery and beauty. What’s more, Blum encourages us to be a cheering section for one another. We are not only brave and beautiful alone–we can be brave and beautiful together.

If you love stories of brave and beautiful women, if you’d like a good read for yourself or for a woman in your life, you’ll appreciate Brave is the New Beautiful. I think it would make a great gift for Mother’s Day or any time, plus, I have an extra copy I’d love to give away. To enter the draw for a free copy, please leave a comment below naming where do you see beauty today? The contest closes May 15, 7am Pacific, so please enter below as I’d love to send you a brand new copy of this brave and beautiful book!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Brave is the New Beautiful. The choice to review and the views expressed are my own.

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14 replies

  1. I just returned from our church’s women’s retreat. I wouldn’t have gone, but a member of our life group suggested that the women of our group attend together. I see beauty in them, their willingness to take risks and share their hopes, their fears, and their failures. I see beauty in their wholehearted prayers for each other. I see beauty in the laughter and tears we shared this weekend and which we share on a weekly basis. I see beauty in their service to each other.

  2. I see beauty in the many women that I work with. They run the company with such grace and dignity and create an office environment of positivity and support.

  3. Beauty is the charm of being simply yourself.

  4. I too see beauty in so many of the women who are part of my life: my coworkers who push to give more to the patients and families we serve, the women I worship with at church/ choir/ ladies breakfast gang and my mom and her friends who are navigating the path through “older age” with grace and faith.

  5. Beauty is seen when hands and heart are open with grace.

  6. I see beauty in open and sharing conversation between women.

  7. I see beauty in my creative mother who at 94 lives with Altzheimers, but in the midst of her confusion said “God be with you”, when I Ieft her room the other day.

  8. I see beauty in the green grass, colorful tulips blooming in gardens, the bees busy gathering pollen, dogs frolicking in the yard and the young child holding the door for an elderly person entering the grocery store. Beauty is a warm smile, a kind word or a simple gesture.

  9. I see beauty in the prayer shawl that I am knitting. Each morning during our prayer time, I knit on this shawl; the interplay of the navy cotton yarn with the metallic sparkling thread reflecting the light bring to mind the beauty that God sees in each of us.

  10. I LOVE all of these beautiful comments. As Lee says in her book, instead of being competitive or jealous of one another, we can cheer one another on. Let’s keep celebrating the beauty we see all around us!

  11. Many years ago a very dear friend asked me “Do you ever stand before or walk pass a mirror, then stop and look at yourself and say ‘WOW, I am beautiful’? No, was my reply “I have never done that’. She says I do that almost on a daily basis and say ” (name held to respect her) you are just beautiful’. When you see her, you might ask yourself, ‘how can she say that about a body that is so substantially overweight, etc.’? However, when you get to know this dear friend, she is just SO BEAUTIFUL………her laugh alone is most infectious. I now frequently stand before the mirror and say to myself ‘I am beautiful…….I am created in the image of my Great Creator.’

  12. I see beauty in my daughter, who tells me about an unwise purchase she made. And then she says what she learned from the experience.

    I see beauty in this earth, in the green of spring, the bird song, the rain. Even the blooming dandelion and the pesky tomato horn worm are created beautifully!

    I see beauty in a couple of our friends. Hearing our need for a different vehicle to haul a bed halfway across the country, they offered their van.

  13. April, this book sounds really good. I’m so glad you brought it to our attention. Thank you!

  14. Thank you, everyone, for your comments. You are beautiful! Our random draw winner is Pearl Braun-Dyck, so once I confirm your address, I’ll send your free copy of Brave is the New Beautiful.

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