A Lesson in True Beauty

A Lesson in True Beauty

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This week is spring break for our St. John Girls on the Run team so I feel like I’m writing this blog from a strange angle. Instead of being inspired by the two weekly practices, I find myself watching a new Dove Ad Campaign commercial about beauty. In the ad, women pick a door to walk through: one labeled “Beautiful” or one labeled “Average.”

It’s easy to see why women love this ad. Who doesn’t want to see a mom pull her daughter away from the average door and through the beautiful door? But I don’t love it. Instead, it reminds me of the lesson on beauty from Girls on the Run. It reminds me of why I love these lessons. The girls come to their own conclusions before they even realize what the lesson is about.

I mean, they knew the lesson was about beauty that day, but they weren’t asked if they were beautiful. Instead, we talked about beautiful sunsets, beautiful animals, something beautiful in a park, beautiful songs, beautiful words, beautiful smells. They easily talked about how the media feeds our ideas of beauty, but how we get to decide what is beautiful. We played games that talked about “Real Beauty” characteristics, including honesty, loving, accepting, confidence, funniness, compassion, kindness. The girls quickly figured out beauty was in the eye of the beholder, even if that word “beholder” made no sense to them.

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It’s not that I want to bash the Dove ad. I get that we all need to decide we are beautiful inside and out. But I want the conversation to go deeper like the conversations about beauty went deeper during this lesson day. It breaks my heart open (in a really good way) to hear the girls discuss real beauty, to see the lightbulb go on as their eyes light up and they realize their humor makes them beautiful, or their kindness makes them beautiful, or their honest words make them beautiful. Coach Jen and I asked the girls for characteristics that make them beautiful after they ran a few of their laps.  I loved hearing the girls say things like “I’m funny” and “I’m truthful.” These were beautiful moments.

Yes, I’ve used the word beautiful so many times here. But watching the girls grow to love this program, to be comfortable in their bodies as they run, walk, and conga line dance their way around our blacktop track is one of the most beautiful things in my life. I wrote about Girls on the Run for Seattle Woman magazine years ago when my daughters were small. I have dreamed of coaching one of my girls. Now I am doing just that, and it’s amazing to realize the reality is better than the dream. I’m thankful to this wonderful program for diving deep into the idea of beauty so each of the girls Jen and I are coaching discover for themselves the real beauty that resides inside each of them.

Blog post created & submitted by Coach Nancy from St. John