The one thing my southern Grandmother said that applied to my youth when I was fresh and healthy, and still applies now that a lot of time has passed and I feel a little more wilted and full of twinges, was this: “Pretty is as pretty does.”
She had other adages and proverbs to prove her constant message meant to define the differences in our insides and our outsides.
Not telling a book by its cover was a favorite admonition. By the time she got to everything that glitters not being gold, we were more than convinced that substance trumps image every time.
In the south, back when, there was a kind of genteel spirit mixed with left-handed compliments extended to persons who were not so favorably endowed with looks.
“Poor thing is ugly as homemade soap, but she makes the best pickles in the county and treats her dog so good,” or “He is certainly not Rhett Butler, but his devotion to his mother is a beautiful thing.”
On the other hand, beauty is only skin deep was trotted out as a lesson on many occasions as well.
“That Betty Sue Farkwarkle may be Miss Apple Blossom this year, but with the nasty way she treats folks over at the shoe factory where she just got a promotion, and her love of banana splits and chocolate milk shakes, she’ll wind up just like her Aunt Ethyline…Miss Apple Dumplin’ and eternally single.”
The same warning was applied to handsome men.
“He looks like a movie star but you can’t trust a thing he says. Dishonesty packaged in a Clark Gable suit is pretty hard to resist. Be careful, young lady…you could just as well learn to love a homely man with a good heart and who reads his Bible and has a job with insurance benefits and a retirement plan; those are the best kind.”
So, I grew up hoping the beautiful people would not forsake good character and moral behavior, and the unattractive, not so well-packaged humans would never act the way some of them looked or smelled.
Either way, the standard was all about the heart and soul, not about the earth suit--whether fine and fashionable, or saggy, baggy and wrinkled to the core.
Today’s amazing race to stave off the signs of aging is rather sad. All that time wasted fretting over tiny wrinkles and imperfect figures might be better spent in the pursuit of a happier more productive and peaceful inside. If the eyes are supposedly the windows to the soul, how much Botox or skin tightening will take place before the shades are drawn over those windows and there's no light and no one seems to be at home?
There’s a mysterious part of each one of us that resides in a secret place where we are who we really are without artifice or mask. It’s the part that writes our story, proves our mettle, lives on after our bodies fail and kick us out.
The earlier a child can grasp the truth of keeping that inner person in tune with God’s plan and in touch with integrity and honor in dealing with the world, the more likely the rush to snatch youth from the clutches of old age will fall out of fashion.
Opinions based on the outsides of us may be fodder for amusement as we listen to long held reactions to attractive people acting wrong and ugly people acting right. Maturity comes when we realize those are not carved-in-stone rules.
Bad looking can certainly be bad acting, but in the end, pretty is as pretty does just about sums up the whole lesson. I'm sure Granny would have been happy to know we were actually listening.
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