Those scars won’t heal you (another open letter).

Dear stranger,

I saw you through the window at work today. You were in the back seat of a car, staring in the opposite direction from where I stood. You were with a woman who was perhaps your mother or grandmother and a girl who looked like she was your age. You wore all black and held a Nintendo, but it remained shut in your lap. Your friend just kept her head resting in her hand, which rested against the window of the car. I don’t know where you came from, or who you are. But when I looked a second time, I saw something that nearly brought me to tears.

I saw your scars.

It made me pause, just for a second, and stare. I’m sorry for staring, but I couldn’t ignore my heart shattering at this sight. You wore those scars like a sleeve, all the way from your wrist to your shoulder. Some were white and old, others were pink and new. But all were deep, thick, and perfectly straight. The kind you can only get from a straight razor drawn across your skin. I know these scars. I have seen them many times. You stared out the window, not knowing that I ever took notice of you at all. Maybe you’ll never know. But I nearly cried, seeing your beautiful arms covered in those scars. I couldn’t see your face. But I guessed you were in high school.

I knew those scars from my own years spent in high school, where I had friends whose cuts I cleaned in the school bathroom because the school wouldn’t help them and I didn’t know what else to do. I took away friend’s razors, thumb tacks, and staples, and I kept them. But they always found something else with an edge on it. One friend told me that her mother had even handed her a razor one night and told her to go die. I don’t know if this is entirely true or not, but it broke my heart, just as my heart broke then and is breaking now for you.

The woman in the driver’s seat did not look healthy. She was thin, almost emaciated, with tangled hair, and she spoke in nonsensical syllables except when placing her order and saying “Thank you.” I pray that with her, you are at least not being harmed even if you are not entirely safe.

I do not know if, like some of my friends in high school, you have been abused, sexually, emotionally or physically. I don’t know if you have any kind of support from family or even close friends. I don’t know if you have someone to take away your razors and beg you to stop, who refuses to abandon you even when you don’t. I don’t know if your parents know, and if they know I don’t know if they’re the type to care. I don’t even know if you have parents. I don’t know why you’re hurting, but it is plain to see that you are.

I wish there was something I could say, or do, to make you see and make you stop, but I know that that only comes with time. I know that you have to see your worth, see your beauty, see that you are loved. I know that it takes a massive intervention. For me, it took a cosmic one. For me, it took the book of Romans, read while crying profusely because of what lay inside that book. For me, my scars went so deep that it took a man sent by God, who willingly gave his life on a cross as a perfect replacement for me, with my name on his lips and in his heart the whole time that he was being bloodied and bruised and beaten and killed. And that’s what it took for you too. He absorbed all the impact of every one of your scars on that day…

And then he erased them three days later when he rose again. He came back clean, even though he’d just borne the sin of you and me, that we know for a fact goes deep, so deep, because we can judge based on the scars. Some of us carry the scars on our arms and they are plainly visible to the naked eye. And some of us carry them only on our hearts.

These self-inflicted injuries go deeper than any razor can cut, and they go further back than we can remember. They have been caused by generation upon generation of sinners, hurting each other and hurting themselves, until we become so lost in all of the hurt that we don’t know what to do but more of the same. I know it doesn’t seem like it right at this darkest moment, but there is hope. And there is love. And you are beautiful and you were made in the image of the same God-Man who died for you all of those thousands of years ago. Your body can heal because his was maimed. The scars will not heal you, but he can heal your scars. It’s why he died, and it’s why he rose, and I can tell you this with conviction because he already did it for me.

Love,

A Stranger

Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@mrsalenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).

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Love does not always roar.

I was at work yesterday, and as I stood at the drive through window, a van pulled up. It was an old man and an old woman. At first glance, the old woman just looked very still, but on second glance I realized that she was paralyzed. I saw her wheel chair all strapped into the car, and she was frozen in one position, which made me believe that she was quadriplegic. As I talked to them briefly, told them to have a wonderful day, and gave them their order, I noticed that the man seemed oddly cheerful. I knew he must spend lots of time taking care of his wife, and I knew that it must be difficult for him. Another family had pulled through earlier, and they were all able to eat in the car. This man did not have that ability if he was driving his paralyzed wife around. I thought about all of the times that I had handed my husband unwrapped food from the passenger seat so that he could eat and drive. I thought about the many conversations that we’ve had, and that many of our best, deepest conversations happened on car rides. I thought about how we love singing along to songs together on the radio. And I also thought about how I take all of that for granted, and that this man doesn’t have any of those things but he still drives his wife around and smiles and (at lease seemed) cheerful despite the hardship that life had given him.

There is a quote by (I think) Mary Anne Radmacher. She said, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” This is something that holds true for me as far as my own experience goes. As I thought about the old man that I saw at work, this quote came to mind and I realized that it would be just as true if you replaced “courage” with “love.”

There is an obsession that I see in our culture for love to be loud and proud. Love is seen as this thing that you proclaim to the world over and over, always and forever. Or for as long as the feeling lasts, I guess. It’s something to be shouted from the rooftops and shouted at everyone you meet. It’s something you take pictures of, tell people about, and can’t stop thinking about and therefore cannot stop talking about, either. I think that this is largely symptomatic of our social networking culture, where “pics or it didn’t happen” has been taken too deeply to heart.

The truth is, love doesn’t always roar. Of course love does roar. But it doesn’t always. In fact, most often, it is the quiet putting of an arm around the one you love, a listening ear, a smile, putting away your electronics and having conversations that last for hours of which there is no digital record. It is not just something that is broadcast to the world, but something that you broadcast, most importantly, to one another. Even if the rest of the world never knows that you’re in love, the only way to make the love last is for your lover to know that you are in love. I have seen relationships fall completely apart even though, if you judged them based on Facebook updates, seemed perfect. It’s almost like people try to love each other for the sake of public opinion and approval, rather than loving each other because they really do.

But what you will never see in any of the status updates, the tweets, the pictures, is the quiet love that is napping together on the couch after a long day; the removing of glasses when they fall asleep reading; the songs sung together on long car rides; the snuggles on a day off; the laughter shared on date night; the time that dinner was completely burned and wrecked, and he ate it anyway because she was on the verge of tears; the t-shirt that has been soaked through with the tears of someone who couldn’t lift their face from the other’s chest because of the weight of their sadness. Nor do you see the hands held, the footsies played, the steadfastness of true love, the determination to remain together, the way that she looks at him while he’s sleeping because he just looks so peaceful, or the moments spent having deep conversations about where we’re going in life, about hopes and dreams and disappointments and family and deep hurts. You do not see the friend who wakes up to a ringing phone in the middle of the night and stays on the line for hours because there was a crisis. You do not see the many “How are you feeling today” texts, sent just because. You don’t see the prayers prayed, the tears cried, or the long, late-night conversations, and hugs. You do not see the difficulty that was had when it was time to, again, say goodbye to a friend.

What you will never see in any of the status updates or Instagram pictures is an old man and an old woman, one of which is paralyzed, and the other still smiling despite everything. You do not see the way that he bathes her, clothes her, kisses her hand, and smiles, beaming, at her (and to me). You do not see the way he wakes up every morning for another day of caring for her every basic human need. You do not see the way he’s never abandoned her just because it’s difficult.

Because some things just should not be broadcast to everyone but should simply be known, deeply and intimately.

Love does not always roar, because it does not need to if it’s true.

Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@mrsalenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).

My prayer for you, my daughters.

My husband and I have begun to look at houses. In that process, the subject of children has played a central part. Can we raise kids here? Would we be able to stay here and grow as a family for a long time if necessary? Is this a safe neighborhood for kids? Is it on a cul de sac so that our kids can play in the driveway and not have as much risk of being hit by a car? These are all things that didn’t even cross our mind when we picked an apartment. I mean, they may have, but they were much less prominent factors in our choice. But there’s something different about a house. There’s something familial and comforting and special about a house, because a house, unlike an apartment (most of the time), is going to be your home. It’s much less temporary.

In discussing all of these considerations for what we want in a home, the subject took a turn to what we want for our kids, not just for the house they will live and grow in. We talked about some kids that we love, and some kids that we can’t stand, and how we grew up, and how our parents raised us, and this eventually led to things that we do or do not want our kids to be. I know that parents can’t control all of this, but they most certainly play a role. This train of thought eventually got me thinking about daughters, probably because I’m a woman and I know what its like to grow up as a girl. And so these are the things that I want my daughters to know as they grow older.

  1. You can like baseball, and lipstick. I want you, my daughters, to know that there’s no such thing as “too girly” or “too boyish” and that whatever your likes or dislikes or interests or passions, I will support those passions. You can love math and art. You can love creative writing and engineering. You can love rugby (which will probably scare me half to death at some point watching you play, but I will watch your games), and you can also love fashion design simultaneously. And that’s okay, even if other people call it weird. It’s fine. Because I want nothing less for you than for you to freely express your interests.
  2. You are strong. I want you, my daughters, to grow up knowing strong women so that you know you can be a strong woman. And I want to be a strong woman for you. The world most certainly needs strong men, but it also needs strong women. Whether those women are being strong while standing by their man or strong while being single, the world needs more of that because women are awesome and you have so much to contribute to the world around you. And don’t ever let the world tell you that you cannot be simultaneously strong and have a man that you support. For some reason, it is a common belief that if a woman marries then she “needs” her man. But you can be strong and single, or you can be strong and married. I know women from both categories and they are all amazing. Neither one of those options diminishes you in any way.
  3. You are also fragile. It is okay to show vulnerability. I also want you, my daughters, to understand that being strong means recognizing your own human fragility. You are absolutely not fragile because you are girls. You are fragile because you are human, and there are things in this world that hurt all of us, and cut deeply, and leave scars. Those hurts, even though they were painful, are something that it’s okay to feel. It’s okay to cry, and it’s okay to express emotion and it’s perfectly okay to have been hurt by things and to be open about it. It is a temptation to let the scars harden us, to let our hearts grow cold and uninviting because for our hearts to be open is to expose them to potential threats. But the truth is that to love at all, you must be vulnerable. And a life without love is not worth living.
  4. Apologize. There will be many times throughout your life when you are not the subject of hurt, but the inflicter. It’s part of being a person. You will hurt people. It is important to know this, and to be humble enough to apologize. Recognize when you’ve hurt someone, and recognize when you are in the wrong. It will happen. And sometimes an apology is all it takes. Other times, the damage is just not able to be repaired. And that hurts. But an apology may allow you to forgive yourself, and allow the other person to forgive you. Do not buy into the idea that anything and everything you do is “just who you are.” We are our choices, and it is never too late to choose to recognize your own fault and say you’re sorry.
  5. Forgive. In addition to forgiving yourself, it is necessary to forgive others. The inability to forgive will only ever result in more pain. The inability to forgive only brings bondage, but forgiveness brings freedom. Holding a grudge is like carrying a heavy load that someone else gave to you, perhaps unknowingly. It’s not necessary to keep carrying it. Forgiveness is dropping that burden and continuing to walk forward, and not looking back at that burden lying on the road behind you.

And lastly, I want you to know why any of these things that I pray for you are possible. Your strength is not your own. Your likes and dislikes and passions and desires reflect someone else’s. You are able to forgive and to love and to be anything at all for one reason. And it is because of Jesus. Because he created you, you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14). All of who you are is wonderful. Because he is strong, you are strong, if he lives in you. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength because in our weakness, he is strong (Phil. 4:13, 2 Cor. 12:9). You can forgive because he forgave us first (Col. 3:13). All of this is only through him. And so that is my prayer for you, that he would live in you, and that you would first and foremost be his daughters and not mine.

Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@mrsalenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).

We are a signature.

Reading is quite a mysterious thing. Science can’t quite explain how the little black squiggles that you see result in pictures in your head. If I write, “Little lambs frolicking in a field,” you can see it. And that’s amazing. However, in order to see that, you have to learn how letters work together to form words, which work together to form sentences, which then work together to create a story. This is quite an amazing phenomenon when you think about it.

Those little black squiggles would seem nonsensical unless you learned to comprehend the language they’re written in. But even once you learn individual letters, it will do you no good unless you learn how they work together to create words, and the words do you no good unless you understand how they create a sentence. Even the sentences would seem oddly disjointed unless you have some understanding of the story that they’re in. You have to know their context.

Life is much like this sometimes. If we are each a letter within a word within a sentence within a narrative, then life can seem incredibly nonsensical unless you understand all of the interactions going on around you. It can feel awfully disjointed and confusing. Usually, this confusion comes down to a simple lack of understanding. The problem is that, as humans, there are some things that we will never understand until (or unless) we see the narrative as a whole and are able to see what led to what, who’s lives intertwined and for what reason, and how one chapter ended so that the next could begin.

Also much like a story, the story that we’re living in has an Author. He created each one of his characters with care and precision to serve exactly the purpose that they are intended for, just like any good author would. He laid down each letter of each word of each sentence on every page so that they too would each serve a purpose. Nothing is extraneous, all was necessary, and all was carefully laid out and planned.

This narrative is the longest and the grandest in all of history, because it consists of all of history. It’s a story of love, hate, joy, anger, despair, hope, and faith. It’s a story that doesn’t stop once you’re gone. It keeps going. It goes on into forever, and the ending, contrary to all writing advice I’ve ever been given, is a happy one. It continues on into paradise.

When you think of it that way, God as the ultimate Creator, not just of physical things (trees, water, flowers, birds, humans, insects), but also the one who created the synapses that allow you to process thoughts, feel feelings, and have the urge to create, dream, imagine, and learn. When we talk about being created in his image, I think we too often stop at the physical appearance. Having arms, legs, eyes, a nose, and a mouth is indeed an image. But what about a mental image? What about the feelings that we feel, the creativity that abounds within human beings, the urge to let that creativity loose?

I believe that this is also one way that we reflect God. If he is the Creator, wouldn’t it make sense that we would want to create? If he is the Author of Life, wouldn’t it make sense for his creations to desire to also be the authors of lives? Of course, ours are often fictional. His story created the world that we live in, ours creates words on pages that can allow others to experience the worlds we keep in our heads. But doesn’t it make sense?

Creativity and imagination and the desire and the drive to make art and books and plays is a unique reflection of our creator, and it’s something that should be expressed. It is equally as valuable as logic and factual information, because without creativity you will never make the leap from what you see to what you think about it. You will never be able to make connections between seemingly disconnected ideas. You would never make the leap from the formation of a little black squiggle to the idea that it could represent sounds and an image. The facts are important, but creativity is what builds the connections between facts that allows an individual to see those facts in a way that no one else ever has. We all have this ability ingrained deep within us. It’s what allows an author to make a character who is representative of the author himself. It’s what allows an artist to represent his feelings about a war through an abstract painting. It’s what allowed the Wright brothers to look at the birds and say, “I can do what they do.” It’s what inspired Galileo to look at the stars and realize that the Ptolemaic model was wrong.

And all of this can be traced back to the image that we bear. He put his mark on his creation the way that an artist signs a painting. That’s what we are. We’re his signature on a beautiful and wondrous universe.

Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@MrsAlenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).

A thank you note, and some information.

Hello, followers!

First of all, I’m flattered that my blog, which started out simply as an outlet for my writing because I was going through journals faster than I could buy them, has garnered so much support and a following. I did not expect that when I started. I have been blown away the past two days as I watched people respond to my post, “To the girl I saw in the Target bathroom.” I never, never thought that my writing would be important enough for people to share with their friends, so thank you. It’s incredibly encouraging to me and it tells me that I actually can have my dream job as a writer. Actually, it may not be too far off. I wouldn’t be able to have a career as a writer without having readers.

I wanted to let everyone know about a way to follow my blog that may be a little easier for some of you and may make it easier to share posts that you enjoy. I made a Facebook page for my blog a while back. The link is here. You can feel free to simply keep following on WordPress, or you can go like the Facebook page! It would help me out tremendously, since Facebook now requires page owners to “promote” their posts in order for people to see them. That’s just a nice way of saying that we have to pay Facebook in order for our posts to be seen by more people. However, if a Facebook page has enough people sharing and liking the content, then the followers of that page promote the content through those posts and likes instead of the owner paying for it (paying for your posts to be seen sounds like cheating to me anyway). The new policy has made it hard for people without an established base of followers to actually get started and be seen and heard, which is silly because the ones who are just starting out are the ones who probably don’t have money yet to promote their product.

Anyway, go ahead over to the Facebook page if you feel so inclined and let me know that you like it by, you know, liking it.

Thank you so very much for following my blog. It truly is flattering and incredible to me, and amazes me every time I look at the number of followers, shares, and likes!

-Alena

Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@MrsAlenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).

To the girl that I saw in the Target bathroom.

Dear stranger,

I don’t know your name, or your age. I don’t know anything about your family, or where you come from or where you go to school, or even if you go to school. I don’t know if you have a boyfriend, or whether or not you drink, or if you’re in a sorority. I don’t know your thoughts, your passions, your fears, or your life.

I do not know you.

But there are some things that I do know.

I know it was a Friday, because I didn’t have to be at work until 10am.

I know that I needed to go to Target.

I don’t know what I needed there. I can’t remember. But I do remember you.

I know that you’re pregnant (I hope that you still are). I know this because you were in front of me at the checkout. You only had one item. It was the test. Probably the scariest test you will ever have to take. You walked straight to the bathroom, which was where I needed to go too. I sat in the stall next to you. You were on the phone. I heard you talking, maybe to a best friend, or your boyfriend, or your mom. Then I heard silence.

I knew that silence.

I heard you say, “This one is saying the same thing, it’s positive too.” And I knew you’d probably taken six tests already, praying that one of them was negative.

You didn’t look much older than I am now. Maybe you’re younger. I don’t know.

I knew the dead-pan tone in your voice. It was the same tone that I had when I told my best friend in high school, “I think I’m pregnant.”

I will be honest. I stood there in the bathroom for a good two minutes, hoping that maybe you would come out and I could say something to you. Maybe tell you that your life is not over, and give you contacts for people who would help you. I wanted to tell you it would all be okay, and to tell you that I know where you are right now. It really doesn’t seem like a great place to be, and I know that. It’s scary, and it seems so awful, and I know that too. And maybe I could just hug you if that’s what you needed.

But you didn’t come out, and I realized that maybe all of that would be a little creepy and a little overwhelming coming from a total stranger. I know…

But there are some things that I would also like you to know.

I want you to know that I got to my car and I cried. I bawled. I couldn’t stop the tears. I kept wiping them away so I wouldn’t go into work with red, puffy eyes. I cried because I know the feeling of sitting in a bathroom stall, holding that stick and watching the plus-sign appear. I know the paralyzing fear and the doubt and the anxiety. I know the feeling of suddenly not knowing where your life is going now, not knowing your options, and not knowing where to turn or who can help you.

I want you to know that I cried because I knew that you had (have?) two options. I cried because those two options are life and death. And I know that 4,000 mothers per day do not choose life.

I want you to know that while I cried in my car before going to work, I also prayed. I prayed that you would keep your baby. I prayed that fear would not drive you to something you didn’t really want. I prayed that you had supportive and encouraging friends in your life who would build you up and stand by you when you needed those kinds of friends the most (I had a couple of those, and they were life savers). I prayed that you would find comfort and peace, and even joy.

I prayed that you would hear your baby’s heartbeat. Did you know that a baby’s heart is beating at 180 beats per minute when the baby is just 10 weeks old? Did you know that your baby may have already had fingers?

But mostly, I prayed that no matter what you chose, that God would use this event the way he used mine for me. I prayed that he would use any decision that you made to bring you closer to him. Because he can do that. He can literally use anything. He promises that he will work all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). I prayed that he would use anything and everything going on in your life at that moment to push you into him in a way that you’d never experienced before, and that you would feel his love, and feel that he wants you and loves you and cherishes you, and cherishes the baby that he placed in your care. I prayed that you would be pushed into him so hard, that there would be no way for you not to know these things.

And I still pray for you. I want you to know that I care, and that I love you, even if I don’t know you. I want you to know that, in a way, I do know you because I have been where you are. And I love and care about you. Every time I think about you, I also pray for you. Because that’s what I wished people were doing for me when I was in your shoes, but too often I was met with ridicule and derision where there should have been love. And I want you to be met with love. But I know that too many people will look at the ring finger on your left hand, and they will judge you for the lack of a ring. And so I want to be one of the people who meets you with love, even if I never actually meet you. Because Jesus would meet you with love, and that’s the lead I’m following.

Sincerely,

A Stranger

Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@MrsAlenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).

Why the body image movement isn’t actually a solution.

While I do believe that it’s a wonderful thing for women to realize that they are beautiful, and I think that the driving idea behind current changes in the way we think about beauty is a great one, I also think that it’s not the best one. It’s great that women of all shapes and sizes are beginning to see that they don’t have to fit within the “skinny” mold to be beautiful. I’m glad that this movement and new way of thinking is pushing women to love who they are, and that it’s pushing them to be confident in their own skin and not let someone else’s opinion of them bring them down. I’m happy that women are being pushed to recognize their own worth and their own beauty.

But here’s why I think that this beauty movement is not the solution to body image issues.

The current beauty movement maintains that a woman’s beauty is reliant on her outer appearance. She still must be esthetically pleasing in order to be beautiful, even though we have changed the type of body she is “allowed” to have in order to fit within this frame. For example, I never see women with acne portrayed as “beautiful.” I have only ever seen women with acne in commercials for getting rid of acne. I have never seen a woman who is morbidly obese portrayed as someone beautiful, nor have I ever seen someone who is completely emaciated portrayed as such.

Even in photos that are supposedly “celebrating diversity” the women that are in these photographs always seem to have very Caucasian facial features, but with differing skin tones (but never a woman who’s very black or very white), and range from maybe a size 6 to a size 12. Our perspective is still controlled by models who fit within certain parameters by way of the hip-waist-breast ratio. That ratio has just been made able to accommodate other women than the typical 5’9-5’11, 120 pound model with a 13 inch waist or whatever.

All we have done is moved from having one mold into having a few extras lying around that we whip out whenever people demand it. And it seems that most people are ok with that.

The focus is still almost completely outward. It’s still less based on inner qualities and almost completely focused on how much body fat a woman is “allowed” to have, while putting only the occasional spotlight on “inner beauty” or the fact that many women are beautiful without having extravagant outer appearances. We’ve just increased the number of acceptable body types. However, morbidly obese women are still largely unacceptable, as are very skinny women. Very black women are not represented, and neither are very white women. But this still isn’t really the problem.

So we’ve widened our range of acceptable body types, and still not addressed what beauty actually is, because this beauty movement maintains the same train of thought that got us into the “skinny is beautiful” mindset in the first place. This train of thought being that beauty is “in the eye of the beholder,” in that it (beauty) consists of what is seen with the naked eye.

As long as the focus is outward instead of inward, there will always be only a few body types represented in the media, because the media is entirely visual; there will always be some body type or other touted above the others and said to be the preferred other; there will always be ridiculously high sales of makeup and plastic surgery and high heels and fancy clothes and false eyelashes.

Until we can change the focus of our attractions, the rest will never follow.

Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@MrsAlenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).