"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
April 22, 2015
The Personification of Beauty
by Amy L. Stevenson

When I was a little girl I was uncomfortable with the word “woman.” I didn’t want to say it. I would substitute “lady” or “girl” whenever I could. I felt the same way about the word “purse,” and tried to avoid that word as well.

Maybe it was because I didn’t want to grow up. Maybe I wanted to be little and without the responsibilities that all women with purses have. I didn’t have an explanation. I just did not want to be called a woman or carry a purse.

I am over that feeling now. I am in the final year of my thirties and have a son that will be an adult in less than two years, so it’s time. However, when several months ago I started to feel a strong pull toward writing about womanhood, I felt an opposing pull telling me not to.

Being the mother of a teenage girl and boy, I find myself constantly running into issues related to this topic of womanhood. There has been a lot of discussion about modesty, controlling thoughts, body image, and feminism among kids in our home, at school, church, and online. I can’t help but think about them.

Girls want to know if these things really matter and, if so, why. Even though there are differing points of view and motivations behind our beliefs regarding women, there are some core commonalities that all women share.

Women know there is more to modesty than keeping dirty thoughts out of men’s minds.

Modesty in dress, a topic that has made me cringe because of the debates it begins, is really about respecting our bodies. We are to moderate what we put on our bodies in much the same way we do with what we put in them. We can still wear the pretty things, but the greater part of what we wear should be nourishing to our spirits.

Modesty would still be important if there were no men around to see. Modesty is not dressing for others. It is dressing for you. It is being humble and comfortable enough with who we are that there’s no need to prove anything through our clothing (or lack of it.)

Dressing to reflect our inner selves is wonderful. We can be comfortable as well as stylish. It’s not comfortable to be tugging down a short skirt or adjusting a plunging neckline. Wear things that will not distract from fully experiencing and enjoying the day or special event.

Women want to feel good about their bodies.

Body image has been skewed into the idea, “If I am proud of my body, I should show it off.” Being proud of the beautiful bodies we have been blessed with is right. Our bodies are the homes of our souls so they are the most valuable thing we have. We protect the things that are most valuable to us.

I believe my family’s home is a beautiful place, but I don’t constantly leave the house door open for anyone to walk in and look around. If I did people would think it odd that I want to show it off to strangers. Beauty is not magnified by flaunting. In fact, it is cheapened.

Women want to be validated and valued.

Beginning several decades ago, a movement arose with the stated goal that women should be equal to men. This is a worthy and important goal as all of Heavenly Father’s sons and daughters are equally valuable to Him.

However, over the years, this goal seems to have become skewed from a push for equality into a push for sameness in all areas. Now, any that make the claim that women and men are, and even should be, different in some ways are ignored or opposed. Ironically, the movement begun to empower women now sends a message that we must assess our value only by comparing ourselves to men.

We should not be the same. Women and men work together as complementary parts of a whole. Don’t get me wrong — it is absolutely important for women to be represented. We deserve, and should continue to fight for, respect. However, this should not come at the cost of denying men the respect they also deserve.

I have thought about how I would like to celebrate being a woman and about how I can teach my children to celebrate them. I wanted to find a way to describe the beauty, character, and vitality of women without degrading men. I found a word that encompasses the way I feel and the way I hope all women view themselves.

Gratiae: the personification of feminine beauty.

The word is pronounced gray-shee-ee, and comes from Greek origins meaning “graces.” The kind of graces that are God-given and are waiting to be activated by us.

Gratiae turns beauty from something we view into something we do.

We can celebrate the beauty of womanhood by honoring our individual graces and the graces of others. These graces are not manifested in the same way for everyone. We are be unique. Some examples of these graces are: courage, fun, divinity, thoughtfulness, creativity, organization, nurturing, dignity, compassion, respect, and energy. There are an infinite number of others, too.

If we find our gratiae (graces), and honor them in the way we act, we will naturally be modest, feel grateful for our bodies, and know that we have value. That is true beauty.

It has been said that the eyes are the window to the soul. When we look into someone’s eyes we can see their potential and their graces. Look into your own eyes and see what you find.

What I learned is that I am beautiful because I am pensive and compassionate.

You are beautiful because you are ….


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About Amy L. Stevenson

Amy Stevenson grew up in central California but ventured to Utah to receive a bachelor's degree in human development from Brigham Young University. She has been using her degree every day since then as a stay-at-home-mom to her son and three daughters.

She believes that parenting is more than telling children, "Be good!" It is about surrounding ourselves with good things, and then acting in a way that reflects the good we have found. She has always enjoyed discovering how people become who they are and has a blog where she shares clean, good, uplifting ideas and resources for children and families in hopes of helping them become their best selves.

Along with her husband and children she has lived in nine different cities in three states, which has taught her that people are good everywhere and there is something to learn from every experience. She and her family now live in Simi Valley, California -- and hope to stay there.

Amy serves as a ward missionary and teaches the gospel principles class.

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