I’m sure the title of this post got you saying, “boy, are you SOOOO yesterday.” The accepted belief — or at least what we chose to SAY in public — is that we want to look beautiful for ourselves. Looking beautiful is about feeling good and confident. Who cares what others think, right?
When we look good, we should ALSO be thinking, “how does it make others feel?”
What do I mean?
My daughter and I were walking to synagogue to celebrate a friend’s bat-mitzvah. This is a special day, not so much for us but for her. So we dressed up in nice outfits, styled our hair (which really means we combed it :)) and made sure our shoes matched our dresses. At the start of our trek to the event, my daughter asked me:“I’ll still look beautiful even if I wear a paper bag, right?” Of course I affirm this. But then I added, “sometimes it’s important to dress up, not so much to make ourselves feel better, but out of respect for others.” Given this was someone else’s special day, I explained, it was that much more important to put in that bit of extra effort to look beautiful. Looking beautiful isn’t just to satisfy our own egos but to show we care about those of others’.
Of course I’m NOT trying to get my daughter to focus ALL of her efforts on her appearance (though knowing her tomboy tendencies, I doubt this will be a problem …yet), but I want her to realize that by ignoring it, she sends signals about how she feels about herself and others. So the next time we take our kids to a friend’s birthday party, go out for brunch with our buddies, or attend our own kids’ school events, remember that wearing that new shirt, shiny shoes or special earrings lets others know you care.