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The beauty quiz you won’t find in magazines

Birthdays have a way of pointing out the aging process. Last week, I briefly wondered if I should learn Photoshop, so I could erase all the new wrinkles in the photo of me blowing out candles.

Maybe I could brighten my eyes a little, too; they looked a bit exhausted from motherhood. I wasn’t thinking of doing anything extreme like these celebrity before and afters.

Birthdays also make me more conscious of how I really want to spend my time…and building a false image of myself, no matter how beautiful, just isn’t on my list of priorities.

I keep telling my son, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Maybe I should do that with myself. In fact, maybe we could all benefit from judging ourselves based on appearance a little less.

The beauty quiz you won't find in magazinesSo here it is, the beauty quiz you won’t find in magazines:

1. Do you wear clothes that make you feel good?

We all have different definitions of what feeling good means, and it depends on a lot of factors—what time of month it is, what we have to do that day, who we’re spending the afternoon with (toddler versus CEO), and so forth. We can all wear clothes that look and feel good at the same time.

A couple of years before I became a mom, I got pretty frustrated with the clothing industry. Every time I walked into a store or saw a billboard, I felt incomplete. Fast fashion kept changing.

I felt convinced that my wardrobe needed just one more thing, and then another. I threw up my hands and declared a no new clothes challenge for myself.

I didn’t buy clothes for almost two years, and no one I met knew that I hadn’t bought new clothes. No one gave me that “she’s kinda weird …” look. Or if they did, I stopped noticing.

I was too busy building self-confidence, finding which clothes made me feel good.

2. Do you listen to people?

Looking beautiful isn’t only about how you dress or what color your hair is.

Sometimes, beauty comes from not being the center of attention or the one talking.

We can draw strength from merely being present and aware, witnessing the world. We just need to lean into what other people are telling and asking us.

I think American photographer in Africa, Bobby Neptune, does a beautiful job of this.

The beauty quiz you won't find in magazines3. Do you make time for your passions?

The world won’t make time for us to enjoy our passions; we have to make it for ourselves.

When I take a little time to do something I love (even though I don’t have time to pursue all of my hobbies with a young family at home), I’m happier.

I really love how this mother son journal and mother daughter journal invite mothers and children to discover the beauty of their common and unique interests and perspectives through a series of thought-provoking prompts.

Triggers remind us of what makes us feel alive.

4. Do you ever make yourself a priority?

We’re hardwired to take care of everyone else first.

It’s a good thing … until self-care falls off our radar. When was the last time you got a haircut? Shaved your legs? Stopped for a cup of coffee alone?

Elizabeth Gilbert talks a lot about this in her podcast, Magic Lessons.

One of her guests was a busy mom who dreamed of writing a book one day. Liz told her to stop making the amazing muffins from scratch for breakfast every day, and spend those 20 minutes writing that book for herself.

The beauty quiz you won't find in magazines5. Do you notice how much effort other people invest before you complain or act entitled to more?

It’s so easy to pinpoint problems when we interact with other people or things they’ve created.

It’s true that some people are just after a quick buck, and our wallets will suit them perfectly. But that’s not everyone. In fact, I’d argue it’s very few people.

We all come from different places. We have different stories to share. Our skin, culture, and experiences are all different.

We don’t know their full stories. Maybe they worked really hard at something or don’t understand your way. They could be doing the best they can.

The most beautiful people I know are the ones who don’t criticize someone the moment they walk out of the room or leave one star ratings for every experience.

They actually smile and say thank you most often. Humans of New York captures these moments and people every day.

Beauty doesn’t have to be skin deep.






Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. laura b

    oohh. I really like these words/thoughts. I think I do a pretty good job on most of your points, but I could always work on being a better listener.

  2. Priya

    What a lovely list!! Now buying new clothes is also on my agenda. I too feel I end up buying too many clothes doe me and my daughter and we need to cut down on shopping a bit, while only buying things which we truly love.

  3. Terfa

    This is simple, concise and provocative, I’m new to blogging and it points the power of originality in context.

  4. Abbie

    Yes! Such good questions. I hope to keep these measures of beauty for my daughters and myself.

  5. Laurie

    BEAUTIFUL words! How true! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Linda Sand

    It also helps to stop comparing your closeup with other’s distant. A friend once asked me why I didn’t have crinkles beside my eyes–then she came closer and said, “Oh.” 🙂

  7. Jamie

    I met Bobby years ago. Fun guy, great talent. Nice to see him featured on your blog!

  8. Erin

    THIS IS SO PERFECT! Sincerely, with each point I was thinking, “Yes!” Thank you so much for sharing – now I’m off to share it with friends and family.

  9. Mr Home Maker

    Ah – number 5. Thank you for the reminder. Enjoyable yet confronting read.

  10. Beth Williams


    These are important questions to ask ourselves. We need to realize that true beauty isn’t always on the outside-it’s what inside that matters. Like Jesus said “I look at the heart of a person”.

    I’m s with you on #1. I rarely buy new clothes. This self-proclaimed country girls wears comfy, sometimes oversized clothes and dresses up some and that makes me happy. I am not into the latest fashion trends. I wear what looks best on me!

    For women, especially, #3 & 4 are super important. We tend to spend a majority of our time caring for others while ignoring ourselves. We wonder why we feel so drained. Give yourself permission to have some spiritual whitespace. Allow yourself time to do for you-take a hot bath, get haircut/manicure. Give yourself that much needed down time. If we don’t replenish the tank then we won’t be any good for others. Jesus took time for himself, as busy as he was. If he needed alone time then so do we.

    Blessings 🙂

  11. Krista

    Great list, Katie. I have been spending time on what I love and part of that is doing FB lives for my business. Wow does that ever highlight my saggy neck…I notice it and keep on rolling;) I am so happy with my smaller, mostly black and grey wardrobe. I used to regularly feel like I ‘should’ dress more feminine or more colorfully. I wasted money and energy. I am very imperfect, but growing I think, in the area of deep listening.

  12. Pam

    Loved this. Thank you.

  13. Anna

    Great list 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject. It is too easy to think about how we appear to others or hop on the next trend instead of focusing on what really matters.

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