What is Real Beauty?

“True beauty is not related to what color your hair is or what color your eyes are. True beauty is about who you are as a human being, your principles, your moral compass.”

What is real beauty? Something that is not only aspirational, but inspirational. Read my story on real beauty.

Growing up I always wanted to be like my older cousin Kelie. She has gorgeous skin, the biggest brown eyes that always seemed to sparkle with light, her hair never seemed out of place, when she smiled her dimples gave her this innocent quality, she could wear a face full of makeup or go bare faced and still looked like she could grace the pages of a magazine, and she was physically fit. Because we didn’t live too close to each other, in my younger years I would only see her at large family gatherings, mainly when my family would vacation down Prudence Island. (We had quite the family compound there.)

When I knew I would have a full week down the island, I would literally absorb every moment I could with her. From being the third wheel with the guys she dated, to hanging out in her house watching her do her hair and makeup, to going down to the docks at night with the rest of the vacationing island teenagers. I practically suffocated her with my presence almost as if somehow being near her would make me as beautiful as she was. When we didn’t see each other, we’d write letters (yes, the old fashioned in the mail kind) and I would soak up every word, oftentimes reading the letters over and over. To put it bluntly, Kelie was and is my muse.

“Outer beauty pleases the EYE. Inner beauty captivates the HEART.” – Mandy Hale

My definition of real beauty is... Read the blog post to find out!

Back then, while I was a self-absorbed teen, Kelie’s outer beauty was aspirational, but as an adult who still greatly loves and admires her, her inner beauty is inspirational.

Strength & Courage: As a military wife and mother of two sons also serving our country, Kelie is the epitome of strength and courage. There are months and years when Kelie is on her own, as her husband and sons are deployed. It takes courage to be a military wife and mother, always having the fear of the unknown. Yet even in, what could be a paralyzing fear and agonizing loneliness, Kelie makes the best of the situation by serving others herself. She cooks for other military families and helps others. It takes a strong person to not let fear weigh you down or loneliness immobilize you.

Gregarious: Kelie is probably the most loving, warm and compassionate person you will ever meet. Not to mention that she is not afraid to go out and live. From sprint racing me along the coastline of Prudence Island at Sandy Point (which I sadly lost) when I was 13 to traveling the world and seeking to expand her interests and hobbies, Kelie makes you not only want to live vicariously through her…but to actually go out and DO it all yourself.

Humility:  Kelie is the definition of humility and grace. I’ve never once witnessed her to be snobbish, selfish or self-serving. It says a lot about a person when you’ve never heard anyone gossip about her or speak negatively of her. How many people in your life can you say that about?

Confidence: There is a fine line between confidence and narcissism. There are so many women I’ve crossed paths with in my life that felt that boasting about accomplishments, gloating about physically perfect qualities they had and bragging about material possessions were the only way to exude confidence. This is not the case with Kelie. Confidence is a certain kind of exuberance in knowing who you really are and what you have without speaking a word.

Commitment: Commitment speaks to loyalty, to looking towards the long term, to something greater than yourself. This summer Kelie will celebrate 26 years of marriage. Aside from my grandparents, who were married 56 years when my grandfather passed away, I look to Kelie’s marriage as a model for my own. Everyone has highs and lows, difficulties, struggles, success, happiness… yet commitment is what keeps them pushing through. Commitment means sticking something out no matter what. There’s beauty in that level of love.

So if you ask me, “What is real beauty?” I would tell you it is not in the form of the best red lipstick on the planet, or the most expensive moisturizer, or the most talented piece of nail art you have ever done. It’s not washboard abs, full voluminous lashes or perfectly arched brows. It’s not a designer handbag or the success of making it onto the cover of VOGUE.

Real beauty is strength and courage, humility and grace, being gregarious, bold fully declaring confidence and commitment without ever uttering a word, but instead showing all of these things through our actions.

I’d love to hear what you think…

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Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty 4 Comments

About the author

Shannon Smyth

Shannon began A Girl's Gotta Spa! beauty blog in 2005 to morph her love of beauty and in educating women on what truly works and what does not. She has been featured in Glamour, VOGUE Australia, Woman's World, Nail Pro, SHAPE and on WBRE's PA Live. She is a go-to source for social media consulting when it comes to beauty brands.

4 Responses to What is Real Beauty?

  1. Miranda

    A great post!! I agree that these are all beautiful qualities and your cousin sounds like a wonderful person 🙂

  2. Honeygirlk

    This is a beautiful post. I think that sometimes as youth we can choose the wrong inspirations in our lives. But, not everyone goes that route and it looks like to me that you have chosen an awesome Inspiration to inspire you. Great read.

  3. Norma-Jeanne Finn

    Dear Shannon, thank you for writing this wonderful article about our Daughter-In-Law “Miss Kelie” We are truly blessed to have her in our family. Miss Kelie is a shining star, to know her is to love her. David is one lucky guy to have Miss Kelie as his “wing gal” We will be so happy when he retires this year after 27 years in the USAF.

  4. Chris Westphal


    As a co-worker of Kelie’s you certainly hit the nail on the head! Thank you for letting others know just how we feel. Beauty is deeper than just a pretty face!

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