Wanda: Boring in Beige to Beautiful in Blue

Two “Beautiful” Stories today . . .

Jenna’s Story

My auburn-haired granddaughter Jenna is very cute, and people frequently tell her how pretty she is. From an early age (here at 3 1/2), she has loved to primp and preen.

2009_Jenna dressed up as princess

Even before she turned two, she would wake up, put on a gaudy plastic tiara and blue Lucite high-heels and toddle around her bedroom, every inch a princess. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with play-acting. But since then, in our Nana/Grand-daughter talks, I have reminded her that there are two kinds of beauty, the inside and outside kind. One lasts. The other one fades. Last year for her 9th birthday, her Grandpa and I collaborated on a gift to help her remember the meaning of inner beauty as she blossoms into a young woman.

It looked like this:


 Here is the verse close-up:

03Proverbs_for Jenna_01gr_4x6

We have talked about the meaning of those solemn and ancient words from the King James Version: favor, deceitful, vain — and have discussed what the verse written centuries ago might be saying to a young girl like her today. She knows for sure that there is nothing wrong with being attractive, but looks are not the most important thing in her life.

to be continued . . .

Wanda’s Story

I don’t know Wanda’s last name, but I know what she looked like before/after her appearance on the TV show “What Not to Wear.” Hosts of the show, Clint Kelly and Stacy London, help Wanda, a family therapist from San Diego, transform from boring beige to beautiful blue. In the course of the metamorphosis, the 47-year-old career woman, reveals that she grew up in a Mennonite culture and thought of beauty as something “to be frowned upon,” something even “dangerous” to use her description.

Here is Wanda’s frumpy before and stylish “after” look:


You can see her “before” pict and hear a snippet of her story on this short YouTube

For Wanda, no more “monochromatic modesty or khaki catastrophe.” She exclaims at the end of the show: “Now I can walk into the future with my inside and outside more coherent.” In the grand finale, a band of friends and relatives gather around the stage to applaud the transformed Wanda who glitters in stylish heels and a purple “date” dress.

As the banner on my welcome page shows (Mennonite prayer veiling paired with a pair of sassy red heels), I can certainly relate to Wanda’s viewpoint. You can read about it in a former post. My own metamorphosis from plain to fancy did not happen nearly as quickly as hers, but over the years I have tried to focus on the qualities that reflect inner beauty just as I try to model them for my grand-daughter Jenna.

What about you? Maybe you are not 40-something anymore. You might be 50, 60 or beyond. Still there’s beauty at any age. That’s certainly what I think.

Do you (as Wanda now thinks) believe your inside and outside appearance should match?

How do you define Beauty?

Coming next: Moments of Discovery: Mother’s Quilts




43 thoughts on “Wanda: Boring in Beige to Beautiful in Blue

  1. She changed her hair colour as well! I guess we can get stuck in the same old same old – I’m still a beige and black gal though of late colour has become more important to me and it’s so nice to get compliments. But as Wanda says, when inner and outer cohere then that is really special.

    Jenna is a very pretty lass, and I’m sure with her upbringing her inner and outer cohere! Thanks Marian, I’m smiling as I type …


    1. And I’m smiling too as I type back to you. You and I have had more years than Jenna to get our outer and inner parts to match. Still, if you feel as I do, I’m still a work in progress. Congratulations for adding sparks of color (oops) “Colour” to your wardrobe. Thanks for being the first commenter today, Susan.


  2. With a grandmother like you, Jenna will be on a good path, as evidenced by the baptism picture you posted recently. It bothers me when I see moms sharing photos of their tiny ones trying on make up and mom says “2 going on 14”–not so much that a child wants to experiment with whatever mommy does, but in many cases, I’m afraid they hear those kinds of statements in the home too, and then why be surprised when the kid continues to act like that? Just saying!


    1. Melodie, your comment reminds me of a show called “Dance Moms” where mothers doll up their little girls (some of them tiny tots) with heavy makeup and extravagant hairdos. Judging from the family stories I see on your blog, your grandmotherly influence is of a more healthy variety, to be sure.


  3. Good morning, Marian. This is a provocative post. Your granddaughter IS very cute, and I’m sure she is just as beautiful inside. I suppose when I “dress up,” I would hope that my inner and outer looks match, but honestly, most of the time I’m in gym attire, sweats, or PJs, unless I’m going out. I am holding back the gray in my hair though with visits to the hair salon :), and I have to admit that I want to look really great for my younger daughter’s wedding. I plan to find and buy a dress I love, get my hair done, buy new make-up, shoes, etc.

    I wouldn’t say inner and outer beauty “should” match. Some people may choose to remain “Plain,” or be nuns, clergy, wear uniforms, etc. And some people do not have the means to buy new clothing. Some people, like my husband, just don’t care how they look, well, maybe not don’t care, more like they’re just oblivious to how they look or what they wear.

    I’ve had the experience though–as most people have probably had–that you start to really talk to someone you thought was not particularly attractive, and then suddenly you notice they have beautiful eyes, or an amazing smile or some such, and you realize that the person really is beautiful. That’s inner beauty shining through.


    1. You bring up an interesting point – the meaning of “match.” Right now I’m sitting in cords and a well-worn jacket more than 10 years old, and my attire matches my writing-at-home style. But this afternoon when I have an appointment, I will change part of my outfit, including switching from sneakers to flats. Still me, only different.

      Like you, I have had pleasant surprises when a personality just “pops” out from what I misjudged was a somewhat ordinary soul.

      Just thought now of Scottish poet’s Robert Burns lines here too: “O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us / To see oursels as others see us.” Well, maybe not. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Unfortunately, the worst part of me defines beauty according to fashion and one trouble with THAT is that fashion is horribly mercurial–Wanda will someday shriek with laughter over that makeover dress of hers (purple? peacock blue?). I think my family and friends help me to (sometimes) keep things in perspective–because, miraculously, they love me regardless of the superficial ravages of aging. (Whew.)


    1. Of course, you are right. But haven’t you noticed that styles of other decades, for example the 1970s prints, recycle and become the hot new thing in the 2010s, with some tweaking. Well, Wanda got some mileage out of her makeover at any rate, including the adoration of her friends in the finale. I have a feeling that her friends, no matter how she looks, would love her anyway. Nice to see you commenting here today, Shirley.


  5. Your granddaughter is beautiful. That was a beautiful gift that you gave. I hope you don’t mind that I copy that to give to my granddaughter as a gift on her fifteenth birthday which is in June of which we celebrate it with a party calls quincenera. It’s like a sweet sixteen. She will be adorned from head to toe with all of God’s blessing prayed over her. I always have to remind her that the beauty inside is a lot more than the beauty outside. There’s a saying that goes she’s so pretty that she’s ugly, which means to look at the person they are beautiful but to get to know them their ugly. Because the inside doesn’t match the outside. It’s more important to be beautiful inside by your attitude and character.

    We have these conversation a lot. I don’t want them to focus only on the outside. I also tell the boys not to focus on a girl’s beauty but to look for their beauty inside. I praise God that Nikko who is in college has finally realized what I meant. He tells me Mom you’re so right I’ve met girls who are really pretty but when I get to know them they have a lot of ugly inside. Of course he opened dialog for me to ask, “How do you mean?” They have a lot of negativity on life and people. So I do like you said I tell them so nice to meet you, but I’ve got to go. How funny to hear that he listened. I pray these coming behind him will do the same. Life – ha.


    1. I am honored that would want to give that same verse as a gift to your grand-daughter – spread the blessing, I say! In your family as well as in your counseling ministry, you spread this advice and more. Yes, I am aware of the Quincenera tradition, even more ceremonial than Sweet Sixteen and a year earlier too! And always a good time to give the message of inner beauty. Thanks, Gloria!


  6. I believe that everyone is beautiful in their own unique way . To be given beauty on the inside is a treasured gift and used wisely could move mountains . To be beautiful on the outside, is usually out of a bottle , just ask the very beautiful Dolly Parton who is lucky to have both . Then the naturally beautiful , yes I I think your Granddaughter is one of those she’ll be stealing some hearts you can bet .
    I am mad on colour …it drives my husband mad who’s dead scared of it . There is nothing like a bright colour on a grey day .
    Beauty is also very much in the eye of the beholder …forgot that little gem he he .


  7. Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder indeed. Your comment about color reminds me that one of my readers suggested a book about colo(u)r some time ago entitled Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall. I wonder whether it was you. At the suggestion, I read it and would recommend it highly. It blends love of color with the psychological.


    1. Yes Marian it was me . I am so glad you read it . She has written others that are equally as good . The author is from just up the road where I grew up in Birmingham .


  8. I’ve found the more the personality sparkles and shines, or fascinates and intrigues, the less I notice the facial features or the clothes. Q.


  9. Very interesting post for me. I grew up in a very strict evangelical church and my dad was a pastor. I had to be very careful lest our family was criticized by tongue-wagging members! No make-up or jewelry, no shorts, certain places of entertainment were forbidden, etc. But, I learned that those things didn’t make me into a wholesome, desirable person! Who I was, what kind of friend I was, inner beauty, is what mattered, not what I wore or where I went. Today, I’m still in the same church, rules are gone! Thank goodness! 🙂


    1. Your early life sounds very much like my Mennonite life. Our church then was in transition too. Now rules in the church I grew up in do not include restrictions on dress, etc. How wonderful to celebrate freedom in our spiritual lives. Thank you, Anita.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Marian — The photo of your granddaughter shows that she’s as pretty on the outside as I’m absolutely confident she is on the inside.

    As to my definition of beauty…to me there’s no one more beautiful (or handsome) than a person with a joyful heart. They simply radiate.


    1. Joy emanates from your face, your fingertips, everything you touch. That’s one reason people flock to your website every Tuesday. Thanks for always being so attentive to mine. So very grateful for a joyful friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Interesting post Marian. You are doing your granddaughter a great service by letting her know it’s nice to be pretty, but the inside beauty is what life is about. Heck, similar to my first book when I envied my mother’s beauty as a child and grew to learn there was nothing inside to cement true beauty, and well those who read my book discovered her demise. As for Wanda, she is wise to recognize that she can look good and feel good with confidence without it being about vanity. Nice post. 🙂


    1. You have made up for your mother’s lack of coherence regarding beauty – and then some. A lesson: Without the irritation within the oyster, there wouldn’t be a pearl. (Something like that!) Thanks for your anecdotes here, Debbie.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Sorry, Marian. That clip of the “monochromatic Mennonite” — ouch. I really preferred her former look. I think she and I must shop in the same consignment store. Comfort is my #1 goal in dress. Even for dressy occasions. When she walked out at the end, all I could think of what how much her back must hurt, wearing those heels. Was I projecting, do you think? 🙂 Your granddaughter is adorable, btw.


    1. Ha! . . . If you were looking at me now I’d be monochromatic too. Black cords and white sweater; you’ve seen them both at the log house. I guess it’s different strokes for different folks. On WNTW, it was all for show as we know.

      Your photo and comment always conjure up the most pleasant memories. Thanks, Janet!


      1. I can’t say I was impressed with the makeover. They kept mentioning her poor dating life and then she shows up after with so much exposed. Is this to draw eye of potential men? That is what I see it as.

        I see beautiful Plain women and girls everyday…She was not dressing plain so much as sloppy.., and she should not use her upbringing as an excuse.


        1. Your conclusions probably express the views of several, Athanasia. This show is marketing a “product,” that would induce the one made-over to attract a suitable mate.


  13. Jenna is beautiful and you are right to emphasize the inner beauty along with the outer beauty. Physical beauty may fade – although I’ve seen some dynamic older folks. But a beautiful soul lasts forever. 😉

    I always loved the transformations on “What Not to Wear.” I wrote a post on it once – a fantasy that I was on the show.


  14. It’s a job to love our older selves (and I carry my mother’s ever critical voice about how I look), but it’s important to link a mature woman’s wisdom with an older look. I feel comfortable and beautiful when I’m exercising and eating well. Then it doesn’t matter to me that I’m heading toward 70.


    1. You are the eternal voice of common-sense wisdom, Elaine. My mother was critical too, to a point. In earlier photos, I see how she bought cute Easter hats for us and put elaborate smocking on the dresses she made. I suspect she had a hidden “fancy” streak that she expressed through us.

      I am already in the decade you are heading toward and believe exercise and eating well helps control the inevitable decline, particularly in energy. My goal: to be ageless in spirit.


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