Just taking the time to tell someone how beautiful they are can make all the difference
My ex-wife liked horses and for much of the time we were together, she kept one … or two. I would come home from work and she would be in jeans and a top, covered in horse hair and sweat and wearing a big ol’ grin.
She was perfectly comfortable with boots, jeans and a t-shirt with her hair pulled back. No make-up. It certainly made her no less a woman.
But she could also go the other way and look stunning if we were going somewhere that required it.
Although I know I told her she was pretty, if I had it to do over again, I would do it a hundred times more often. The reasons why are many.
For one, it cost me nothing to tell her she looked beautiful. For another, reinforcing what I liked might encourage her to do it more often.
In addition, I now have a first-hand understanding of just how much work goes in to trying to look presentable. It’s a process that for me, can take 90 minutes. (Yes, I can do the short version and be out the door in 15 minutes, too.)
Since my transition, I’m also becoming aware, in ways I never was before, of the sometimes ridiculous standards of beauty to which women are held.
These are standards that can induce insecurity in even the most beautiful women, so imagine how they affect someone who was born with a terrible genetic disadvantage!
In addition, the standards trans women are expected to meet are often “no-win” situations. If we dress too girly, we are a parody. If we dress down we aren’t “feminine enough.”
I say, run your own race. Screw what other people think. I waited so long to just be me; no one else has a say in just what “I” am.
It should come as no surprise, we all love to be told we are beautiful? So what does it hurt to tell someone?
Acknowledge the effort it takes. It takes nothing from you and gives a wonderful gift to someone else.
Just recently, I dropped into my favorite Sephora in the JC Penney in Flower Mound. I’ve been buying my make-up there since 2012 and have been getting all sorts of valuable pointers from a wonderfully caring woman named MaryAnn.
Each time I’d stop by over the last three years, she would welcome me with a hug and a smile and have me hop up in the chair. We’d catch up on each other’s lives (she has a big Italian family) and she would show me some new trick or technique.
This time, I had done my make-up at home — nothing special — and I was dressed casually in black leggings, neutral heels and a paisley summer top.
But when she saw me, she lit up. She gave me a hug and said, “Let me look at you! You look amazing! Your make-up is perfect!”
She complimented my outfit as well, and you couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face. Her approval meant so much because she’d always been honest in her assessment before when I’d missed the mark in some way. She was kind, but honest — and always helpful.
Sharing that feeling with someone else can only be a positive experience. Acknowledging the work someone put into looking pretty and their desire to look pretty can do so much for another person.
We all want to feel pretty, don’t we? At least some of the time?
So many times, we get caught up in our own stuff. It’s easy enough to do. But please believe me, when you step outside of yourself and compliment someone else — be they a mate, girlfriend, significant other or even stranger on the street — you are giving an amazing gift.
Who knows — that compliment might stay with them for days or weeks, or longer. It may come at just the right time in their lives.
You never know.
I promise you, you can’t go wrong and you will never regret helping someone else feel better about themselves.
My girlfriend, Katie, is one of those girls that can roll out of bed looking gorgeous. But I still try and tell her every day that she is beautiful. Because she is and because she deserves to be told she is.
So go ahead, give it a try. You might just make this world a more beautiful place.
Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 9, 2015.