By Tom Demerly.
I dated a girl once; let’s call her “Kathy”. Kathy was probably a size 14, maybe 16. I don’t know for sure. Acknowledge please, that is only a metric, a dimension. Not a judgment. It is a statistic exactly like “18 degrees Kelvin” or “3 kilo bars”. It is simply a measurement. Remember that. We’ll come back to it.
A friend fixed me up with Kathy. We went on a date. Kathy looked adorable, not overly made up; tidy and fresh. Her accessories were a fetching smile, engaging conversation and alluring décolletage. But the most attractive quality of Kathy was her poise and confidence. The combination was irresistible.
Weeks later, after falling for Kathy, we decided to fly out east to meet her family. Big step.
During those weeks I had learned that Kathy was self-motivated and driven. She was going to law school. Kathy raised the bar for me. She made me want to strive, to be better, to rise to her standard. To be good enough. I loved that about her.
Kathy also knew how to show affection. From making breakfast to always being poised and dignified even in sweat pants and a T-shirt with her hair in chaos.
I was amazed at Kathy’s character and personality that contributed to her being so attractive. Now, I will concede that she was physically beautiful, but the distinction between her physical appearance and her personality was… blurry. If you saw a photo of Kathy you would be struck by her smile, poise and… that something she had.
What made Kathy so beautiful?
I got my answer when we arrived in her parent’s driveway.
Kathy’s family came out to greet us. The first words out of her father’s mouth, his arms spread wide in that welcoming, hugging gesture, were, “Oh my God, you look so beautiful sweetheart!” Kathy’s two brothers came out too and were eyeing me with a mix of measurement and protectiveness; “… is this guy good enough for our sister?” Kathy’s mother inspected her outfit and said, “Those jeans look great on you. Where did you get those? I need a pair. We need to go shopping…”
After a weekend that included going to one of her brother’s football games and a number of fine meals we walked to the driveway to leave. Her father and mother and brothers kissed Kathy and hugged her. Her father and brothers shook my hand, her mother hugged me.
Then her dad gave me a gift, a book; The Greatest Salesman of All Time by Og Mandino. The book talked about thankfulness, poise, respect and ambition. It talked about appreciating what you have and using it as a basis for building on, for sharing with others, for respecting yourself. And then I knew many of the things that made Kathy so beautiful.
We live in a world distorted by superficial and expedient impressions. Those impressions are neither durable nor gratifying. We all fall victim to them, and they beat us down- men and women both. The impressions fall upon us from billboards, magazine covers, and popular media. We are responsible because we keep feeding into them, we keep responding. If we want it to change we have to change first, then society will follow. We have to decide, what do we think is truly beautiful, truly valuable, truly lasting?
Kathy’s allure was not defined by some external metric, some media imposed ideal. It was founded in the things that make us feel valuable, safe, loved and real. Her magnetism wasn’t copied from the pages of a magazine but from a sense of genuine self worth. And from that, Kathy was beautiful. Truly beautiful.