Kalon and Polly Milton

Kalon is a Greek adjective meaning beauty that is more than skin deep.  This is one of those phrases that is meant to empower and inspire women.  The saying has been repeated so often over the years that it is almost clichéd, but however popular the sentiment, it is not truly believed by most.  Let’s be honest: the first thing you see in someone is their looks.  If someone’s clothing or hair isn’t trendy, most people will notice, and not in a positive way.  It just doesn’t come naturally for us, especially as girls, to look at ourselves and think, “I’m fine with not fitting in, and it’s all good.” Living in a digital society that values appearances and superficial things so much makes it especially difficult.

Thinking about this word, Polly Milton immediately comes to my mind.  Polly is the main character in the classic novel An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott, which takes place in the 1800s. The story follows Polly, a 14-year-old from the country, as she visits her friend Fanny who lives in the city. It is the fashion for girls in this time period to act older than they are — concentrating on the latest styles, makeup, gentlemen — and to use their education as an excuse to socialize.  Polly is the “old fashioned girl” in this story, because she was raised differently than all the people she encounters in the city. She acts her age, and because of this she is ridiculed by the other girls (they call her an “odd bird” and “country folk”) and is sometimes an outcast.

The thing about Polly that really inspires me is that she isn’t a perfect character who makes it look easy to be different. She is hurt by the words of the other girls, and finds it difficult to not really fit in. This gets to her at some points, but overall, she becomes confident enough in herself that she remains true to how she was raised. And despite the fact that she doesn’t behave the way the other young ladies do, people love her.  Polly’s smile, her kindness, and her wonderful personality allow people to look past her exterior and at her truly shining personality.  This is what makes her beautiful, even though she may not meet society’s definition of normal.

I am writing this to make a point that has been made many times: it is your inner beauty that truly matters.  Looks are not permanent, but it is your personality and kindness and love that you show to everyone that will make a lasting impression.  This is far easier said than done, I know. But the next time you find yourself getting caught up in the superficial things of this world, or dwelling on the fact that you might seem to be different from everyone around you, summon your inner Polly Milton: rise above the norm and give people a reason to look past your outward appearance and at your heart, your kindness and your love for those around you.  That is the beauty that defines you.

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