When we look at pictures of our grandparents when they were young, we always think they were beautiful.
It doesn't matter how they might actually and objectively compare to today's standards...whether they had teensy waists or perfectly white, straight teeth. They are always beautiful.
Maybe it's the glamour of the era, the black-and-white photos. But I don't think so. I think it's youth, and history. When we see those photos, we see lifetimes, legends, and a past that connects to us. We see pieces of ourselves that we want to love.
When I glam up for a night on the town, lining my eyes and pinking my lips, I can look in the mirror and say, "I feel pretty." But I've learned that it can also be an amazing experience to wash it all away at the end of the night.
When I see that face, when I see the real shape of my eyes and pallor of my skin, I see something far deeper than beauty. I see my siblings and parents and grandparents. I see Slovakia and Ireland and even a hint of the great plains of the US. I see children and grandchildren, and pictures that will come to look like history.
Hopefully someday, my grandchildren will have taken these old digital photos of me and transferred them into some as yet unimagined form. They will sit with me and say, "Grandma, you were so beautiful." And oh, I hope so much, that I will have found the words to help them realize that they are beautiful. That their youth, their history, their humanity shines from their faces...and that is enough.