Beauty Guru: Can Someone Who is Not Beautiful Define Beauty?

Beauty Guru Emma Mae wearing Orange Fix nail color.

I would love to be able to say, "I have never worried about whether or not I was a beauty." Actually, I could say it but it wouldn't be true, because there was a time in my life when it was very important.

As a teenage girl, I was extremely worried about my looks. I was surrounded by beautiful women. My mother, aunts, cousins and sisters were all gorgeous. I didn't have a heart-shaped face. My eyes were not lined with thick, luxurious lashes. My mouth lacked the perfect Cupid's Bow. I wasn't like them. Even though I spent the majority of my babysitting money on makeup, cleansers, lotions and creams, I was still average.

When I would talk to my mother about my lack of beauty, she would say, "Beauty is only skin deep," or "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I didn't want platitudes or adages; I wanted to be like them, beautiful.

A few years later when I was working at a retirement home, it became apparent that once again Momma was right. These people were in their 70s, 80s and 90s and could not be called beautiful, yet I saw true beauty in many of the women, like Mrs. Neuhaus wheeling her husband outside and sitting there talking to him for hours even though it had been a couple years since he had answered, Mrs. Nelson touching her husband's arm to guide him to their table when he would lose his way in the dining hall, and Mrs. Bradbury sharing her pickled tomatoes or Chow Chow with a new resident that might be feeling abandoned by their family.

Their beauty had nothing to do with their looks. Though many of them had been absolutely dazzling in their younger years, their looks had abandoned them and they were unconcerned by this. Then I had what Oprah likes to call an "Aha moment." I realized time is the great equalizer and my time, like everyone's, is limited. So I stopped haunting the makeup section at Walgreen's looking for right concealer, foundation and blush. I stopped spending hours in front of the mirror, criticizing myself or wishing for features I didn't have.

I shortened my beauty routine by eliminating concealer, foundation and blush. I wash my face and use an astringent. My makeup consists of lip gloss or balm, a touch of mascara, and if I want to spice it up, I apply a little neutral-colored eye shadow. Over the years, I have added moisturizing and sunscreen to my routine and recently I gave up soda and have started drinking water. Am I beautiful? Nope. Do I have a definition for beauty? Not exactly, but I know it when I see it, and I see it everywhere. Do you?