Felicity turned sixteen today. As a child, she was adored by all. The sound of her laughter was pleasing to the ears of her family members. It was as if happiness radiated from her. Even the grumpiest of people couldn’t help but smile in the presence of this child. Felicity, from a very young age was full of love and laughter. Displaying an almost empty jaw, she always giggled when surrounded by people. Thus, her parents named her Felicity, a blissful child who could make anyone’s day better.
She enjoyed skipping through the garden in her backyard barefooted and sang lullabies that she had heard from her mother. Her rosy cheeks seemed to glow brighter under the sun. The black curls of her hair fell a little below her ears, which perfectly complimented her round face. She had pale skin and her dark brown eyes sparkled with inquisitiveness.
Apart from being a beautiful little girl, Felicity had a thirst for knowledge. She had no siblings or neighbours her age to play with, which left her plenty of time to observe her surroundings. She wanted to know about the trees in her garden, the birds that sat on the branches and the flowers which bloomed in different seasons.
At sixteen years, Felicity knew a lot more about science and nature than any average girl her age. But now, her beautiful locks had turned into a twig like mess and the redness on her cheeks was due to the acne that started to show a few months ago. She did not think about it much at first but as the condition of her skin worsened she began to panic. The common question thrown at her at any family gathering was, “What happened to your face? You were so beautiful when you were younger.” At parties when her friends looked so pretty in their perfectly applied foundation, Felicity with bad makeup skills, felt like an outcast. Her insecurities got the better of her and gradually she started to lose her cheerful self.
Felicity was a good public speaker. She was confident and knew what to say to keep the audience engaged in her speech. But with time, her insecurity had lowered her self-esteem. She believed she needed to look a certain way in order to present herself in front of the audience. The girl who loved to laugh had now become overly conscious of the people around her and bitterness was her only expression.
Fiona, her first cousin was a few years older than her. Over the course of time, Felicity had developed a strong bond with Fiona. She was disheartened when she got to know that Felicity was letting her talent rot due to her insecurity.
“Felicity, you are so smart.” said Fiona. “Please don’t let your acne deter you from going on the stage again. You are so kind and loving. This is what makes you beautiful.”
Felicity looked disappointed and said, “It is okay. Everyone says that. But first impressions matter. Looks matter. No one is going to look at how kind I am or how smart I am when they first meet me. Forget it, you won’t understand because you are so beautiful.”
Fiona laughed, “You think I have the perfect life because I am pretty? Beauty is both a blessing and a curse. You think it feels nice when people stare at me when I walk past them? Do you think I feel ecstatic when every other day boys I never talked to come and say how much they love me? This love of beauty is an illusion. In a room full of people talking about the new discoveries and discussing complex theories, do you believe you would feel good if you had clear skin and no idea about anything they were saying? No, you would feel like a fool. If you had a perfect face but you were not able to deliver a stunning speech, do you think people would value you more?”
She held Felicity’s hand and continued, “Listen, it is okay to want to be beautiful. Feeling beautiful is important. Eat healthy, drink plenty of water, sleep on time and consult a doctor if you feel it is a serious problem. Do what you can and let the rest go. Focus on being beautiful from the inside. When people love you for the person you are, that is real love. Read as many things as you can. Nothing is more beautiful than knowledge. Be the joyful Felicity everyone adored, because feeling happy is beautiful.”
Felicity couldn’t control her tears as Fiona hugged her. “You are right. My looks don’t define me, my qualities do. Thank you for everything.”
It took her a while to overcome her insecurity. Still there were days where Felicity felt anxious about her looks but she no longer let it control her. Among all the things that remained unchanged was her laughter. It was still as beautiful as ever.