I happen to kinda, really, totally love my sister. She’s six years older than I am, and while we grew up moving from state to state as the kids of dual military parents, Kate was my one stable thing. She taught me how to curl my hair, how to make a mix tape (showin’ my age on that one), and how to cope with a broken heart. That’s not to say it was always easy. Kate is beautiful, dynamic, magnetic, and heart-stoppingly beautiful. There’s always been something about her that people are drawn to. We sound exactly alike, and played more than one trick on our boyfriends-at-the-time as we grew up. Even our parents can’t tell us apart on the phone, and we knew we found the right guys when they could. But as alike as we sound, we couldn’t look any more different.
Ten years ago, Kate and I both worked for Stewart Title, about fifteen feet from each other in the Escrow department. As part of a department meeting, we took a quiz after an inservice, and I scored higher than Kate. Laughing, I called out over our desks, “that’s because I’m the smart one!” To which Kate replied with enthusiasm, “that’s okay! I’ll always be the pretty one!” We laughed hysterically. You see, neither of us know when it started, but we’ve said this as long as I can remember, even as children. It’s an inside joke, a running theme that we both laugh about and mean nothing by, the same way we say “Love you – Mean it,” over some silly statement from my freshman year in high school. No one can ever really understand sisters. But our co-workers were shocked that Kate had said that, thinking she’d hurt my feelings. What struck me at that moment was that they didn’t think me saying “I’m the smart one” was offensive; no, it was Kate’s “I’m the pretty one,” they didn’t understand. But to me, if I didn’t understand the insider-history of the comment, I would think my comment would have come off as so much worse.
Listen up peeps: smart IS pretty.
While Back-to-school shopping with a friend, we wandered into Gymboree (because I’m a sucker). I swear, I can hear Jason cringe from Afghanistan the moment I walk through those doors. Because I can’t wait for the day our social worker calls us for our baby girl to adopt, and my friend has a little girl, we wound up on the girl side of the house. (Now you can REALLY hear Jason cringing if you listen hard enough…) Now, don’t get me wrong, I love little girl clothes. I long for frilly tutus and chic little peacoats. But what did I see?
So here we go, to the girls, the one I have, the one I wait for, my nieces, my cousins, my friends…
Smart is pretty.
When I talk to my boys about the kinds of girls they should look for (yes, I’m brainwashing them), I always ask what they think is the most important.
Aidan will be the first to chime in with a “pretty!”
I shake my head, and say, “sure, it’s nice if you think a girl is pretty, but that’s not the most important thing.”
Never one to miss a quiz, Aaron answers, “Kind and smart, but if you can only pick one, kind is most important.”
Aidan will usually agree with something akin to, “yeah, they have to be nice. I don’t like mean girls.”
Kind is most important. God, I’m so sorry boys, but I won’t be able to protect you from your first broken heart. All I can say is that pretty faces and pretty bodies don’t always contain pretty hearts. In fact, until you make your way into college and maybe out of it, sometimes the opposite is true.
Girls, please don’t be ashamed to be kind. “Mean Girls” isn’t something to aspire to. Please don’t be afraid to befriend the new girl, to help another with some homework. Every girl on this earth is born with a beautiful soul, capable of moving mountains. Please, don’t let that beauty dull with ugly words, ugly thoughts, and uglier deeds. Even the prettiest eyes can’t always hide the malice behind them. Kind girls are the ones who can be proud of themselves and their deeds at the end of the day. Kind girls rock.
Girls, if you’re smart, own it. Don’t be embarrassed that you knew the answer. Don’t be nervous because you outscored some guy on the test. Smart is pretty. Smart is GORGEOUS! Smart will take you so much further in life than pretty, and if some guy doesn’t respect that about you, then it’s his loss. You just send him over to the Mean Girl and let them live happily ever after. Real men may glance at pretty, but are captivated by smart and kind.
For example, Ashton Kutcher rocked my world last week when he said this:
Excuse me while I have a little Ashton crush now.
Am I saying not to take care of your bodies? Heck no. Your body houses that gorgeous soul and brilliant mind, so you’d better keep it tuned up so you can be smarter and kinder for longer.
Pretty fades. Smart and kind don’t. Pretty girls might be models, but smart girls run for president, for congress, run companies, and get nominated to the Supreme Court.
Sure, pretty girls can be celebrities… Don’t get me started on Miley Cyrus, because that whole fiasco isn’t worth the time it just took me to type that out. Nor were the actions of those who let her put on that display. Celebrity fades as fast as a shorn head and a few ill-chosen words. Kind and smart are the qualities that bring a glow to your soul and stay with you throughout your life. Those are the qualities of a woman who knows she’s worth more than just what’s reflected in the mirror. Smart and kind, ladies. Smart and kind.
Is there anything wrong with being pretty? Heck no! Embrace it! Just don’t let it take over your kind heart and your smart mind. Those of you triple threats can rule the world, but it’s still the smart and kind virtues that will carry you further, make you better women, or wives, or even mothers if you choose.
So, moral of the story? That pic above is my sister and I 10 years ago, and since I haven’t seen her in the last 8 months or so (entirely too long) I totally stole a pic off her blog (KML Image works) and snapped a quick selfie. Don’t judge my selfie, peeps, the 10 year old just isn’t iphone proficient enough yet… 😉
Point is: we may joke about who’s the smart one, and who’s the pretty one, but we’d kick the patootie of anyone else who did. We’re both smart. We’re both pretty. We’re both trying our best every day to be kind. We’re both works in progress, just like every other woman (and man) on this planet. We’re just blessed to have each other to keep ourselves in check.
Oh, and all you smart, kind girls? Snag those “brilliant,” and “smart girl,” shirts in the largest sizes you can, so I can tell my smart, kind boys to keep an eye out for you when they’re older. 😉