I don’t know about you, but for me 2018 has already tried my patience, and January seemed like about 10 years long. New Year’s Eve? Ages ago. Christmas? I don’t even remember it. Last summer? You’re kidding, right?
Here in Minnesota, the ground slumbers in a blanket of white, apparently oblivious to the pain and suffering of the humans living on top of it. While our toes freeze, our noses go numb, and we forget what we look like without ten layers on us, Mother Nature seems perfectly happy to let Winter give her a break from all that growing and greening. But I have to admit, there is a kind of beauty to winter that I did—seriously—miss when I lived in warmer climes. It reminds me of a French phrase, “la jolie laide”, the ugly beauty. There is something lovely and perfect about the imperfection of winter, about the bitter cold and the stark landscape. Part of it is the way it forces us to move indoors, and in so doing, to move inward, to look inward. There, we find a new kind of beauty.
The Allure of La Jolie Laide
The allure of “la jolie laide” begins on the outside. It’s the face that, through its imbalance, its quirk, its oddity, we find something intriguing and, yes, beautiful. Think of Barbara Streisand, Sarah Jessica Parker, Frieda Kahlo. They all have faces that do not strictly conform to the rules of beauty, and yet there is a unique and singular feature that makes them somehow more beautiful, more intriguing, more alluring than a “classic beauty”. “La jolie laide” reminds us that we can be exactly who we are on the outside, we can flaunt it even. And isn’t that so much more interesting than conformity?
But what really makes “la jolie laide” a gem and something for which we should thank the French daily, is the idea that beauty radiates from within. The true source of the beauty of a “jolie laide” is that she—or he—radiates their inner beauty so fiercely that it is undeniable. The best part? We all have inner beauty that we can flaunt for all to see. I truly believe we are all born with something—a “je ne sais quoi”—that makes us uniquely us. It’s our inner strength, intelligence, humor, kindness… whatever it is that draws others to us.
What is your inner beauty? Can you find it? Do you know it? Are you intimately connected to it? If so, bravo! Keep shining, you jolie laide, you! If not, can you find the nugget of it? Can you find just a little seed of that beauty inside you that the rest of the world wants so very much to love and appreciate and admire? If you can find the seed in this monochromatic, cold, and dark winter, then you can plant it. You can feed and nurture it. Water it daily. Do that now, and by spring, just like mother nature, your inner beauty will begin to warm, thaw, sprout, and grow. And once that happens, look out world! You’ll be shining like a noonday sun on a summer solstice: bright, life-giving, and radiant. I hope I’ll be there to see it.
Au revoir, and merci for reading!