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I know this video has been floating around out there for a while, but I finally watched it.

I wept.

In fact, I was crying so hard by the end that I had to go sit in the bathroom with the door shut so that my small children wouldn’t be alarmed. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure how to explain my tears to them.

But after a few minutes, after the tears had faded, I understood what had set me off. It was that so many of the people in the video seemed to have trouble believing they were beautiful. My heart ached for the disbelief in those lovely young humans.

Because, when they smiled, or even if they didn’t but made another expression, they were beautiful. And beautifully themselves. Every single one of those people was beautiful. Maybe they were even beautiful when they weren’t smiling, and that proves that different people think different things are beautiful, or maybe the flicker of pleasure itself was beautiful.

I don’t want to go into how society shapes our perceptions of beauty, and how —especially with the advent of Photoshop—people are confronted with an unattainable standard. A nonstandard standard. There have been pushes to have “real women” appear in commercials and other advertisements, and still the strange ideal exists. Other people discuss this subject with far more scholarship, insight, and passion than I do, so I’ll leave it at that.

I just thought it was heartbreaking that some of these people were surprised that they were beautiful, that some couldn’t believe it. Everyone should believe they are beautiful. Maybe not all the time. We can’t be all the things we want to be all the time. But hopefully most of the time. Maybe you don’t conform, looks-wise. That doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have a spark, a light, shining from inside, that is beautiful.