I have to tell you that most of the most beautiful women are not 19 or 20 years old but are of age, of struggle, of imperfection, who have experienced life. One such person in my life comes to mind.
Back in the 50's I had pleasure of going to spend time on a Native American reservation in northern California. I did not stay in a motel or fancy resort but rather, I slept in the trailer which was the home of my friend Fred Pete's (better known worldwide as "Coyote") mother. I don't know how old she was but, by superficial American standards, she looked old and used up. She had very little in the way of material things and, in fact, she slept on a mattress on the floor. She'd never had a professional hair cut or a facial, but it didn't matter. She taught in the reservation school and she loved every child there. I watched her interact with them and when she did, I saw beauty. The deep lines in her face were the very things that made her beautiful and interestingly enough, they were the same lines our A-listers pay to have removed.
Smiles are perhaps the real "beauty marks." We have all seen someone smile and they do so not only with their mouths, but look in the eyes and there is no smile. Nowhere will you see this more than on the young, shallow women who know just how much the mouth should be open and how many teeth should show. But, because the emotion that should create the smile is missing, the only "smiling part" is the lips. Actually, one of the chilliest things I have ever witnessed is when this is carried even further and the person laughs. The sound of laughter, when it is borne of joy or happiness or even attitude, is wondrous and quite contageous. Just try not to laugh when real, honest laughter is happening around you. It is almost impossible. But to see someone laugh on cue or without any joy is scary. I once knew someone who, when he laughed, gave me goose bumps. It scared me. I guess learning to smile or laugh on cue is part of a young model or actress' job but it never seems honest to me.
In thinking more about my Native American friend, what pops into memory is the day I had to leave her and the reservation. I felt sad. She saw it and said for me to come with her, that she had a gift for me. Together we walked up a hill behind her trailer until we reached a little hand planted vegetable garden. Slowly she picked the reddest tomatoes, the biggest lettuce and the sturdiest onion stalk and handed them to me. And she smiled. She smiled all over, from head to toe as she explained she'd grown these things with love. But then she took my hand and led me a little further up the hill to the corner of her garden. She began to turn back the earth until she reached a paper bag. Inside the bag was a weathered paerback book and she handed it to me. It read, "Commodity Cook Book." Her entire face glowed as she explained to me that this was the book distributed by the U.S. government to Native American families, instructing them on how to serve nutritious meals with very little money. I flipped through it and read aloud at the head of one page, "Ten Ways to Use Peanut Butter to Feed Your Family." It struck me as funny and I laughed out loud, triggering her to do the same.
My friend, smarter than most, involved in a simple life of giving all she had to others, happy to be alive and giving a gift to me, grabbed my hand, threw back her head, danced a little jig and laughed. There was no question that it came from joy and I could do nothing but lay her book down along side the lovely vegetables she'd grown, try to match my steps with hers and laugh.
Ah! Never have I seen a more beautiful being nor have I felt such pure love of life. Her face was deeply tanned and lined from the sun and hard work, surrounded by long dark hair loosely caught in one braid. Her eyes were squinted into slits by the spread of her smile. The enormous chasm between her smile and her beauty and that of the starlet, paid millions to look perfect made a permanent impression on me as to what beauty really is. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the right shade of lipstick or hair dye or cut or being the perfect size 0 or how to turn on a fake smile whenever needed. I guess it all boils down to the fact that real beauty shines through when your life is filled with the joy of giving with knowing who you are and being pleased with it. There are millions of pretty young people but I suspect it takes time to be beautiful!
The view from the hill is wondrous.