Many women think that the key to beauty lies in the bottom of their makeup bag. There are a million and one reasons why women believe this: they’re judged on their appearance, pop culture and mass media support those judgements, and big business makes its money off shamelessly promoting the before and after effects of their miraculous products. The truth is, being beautiful doesn’t come from a lipstick tube, mascara wand, or blush brush. The following seven factors create a more lasting impression than any amount of makeup ever could:

1. Her passions

A woman who is without passion is one dull woman. At times life can feel like a Mack truck, ready to roll over us all at a moment’s notice. It’s hard for a woman to slow down and take time to do the things that truly bring her joy, but when she neglects the part of herself that ignites her, then she is living a passionless existence. A woman who takes the time to follow her passions, whatever they may be, understands that life is too precious to speed along without enjoying the ride. A woman who enjoys all that life has to offer, not just her partner or her relationships, is a woman who others admire. Why? Because passion is contagious. Watching someone pursue her dreams is just about the most beautiful experience human beings can have.

2. Her compassion

A cold-hearted woman may love herself, but who loves her back? Think about this. If a woman is incapable of feeling for others, who will feel for her? Compassion, whether one is a mother, lover, colleague, mentor, or friend, is the adhesive glue that holds relationships together. Though self-absorbed celebrities are splayed over the front covers of the magazine rack, most men don’t find narcissists all that appealing. The reality is, if a woman loves herself more than she is capable of loving another, the only beauty she can boast of having is skin deep. A woman who understands how to give and receive love is much more desirable than a woman who has none to spare.

3. Her mind

There is a popular myth in our culture that a beautiful woman isn’t smart. In fact, this stereotype condemns women in two ways because the implication is that smart women aren’t beautiful. This is a lose-lose scenario. If a woman looks too appealing then she can’t have anything going on upstairs, and if she “has her nose in a book” then she can’t be a looker. A woman who doesn’t take time to cultivate her mind is like a writer who never reads books. Neglecting one’s intellect is similar to shouting, “I don’t need to understand the world — the world needs to understand me!” Life doesn’t work like this. The pursuit of knowledge and truth is not only attractive, but essential to our existence. Knowledge is empowerment and empowerment is sexy.

4. Her fun-loving spirit

Ever tried to have fun with Debbie Downer? It’s really hard to share the same space with a Negative Nancy and here’s why: No one loves a mope. This is not to say that a woman must be Positive Peggie all the time. A woman can and will taste disappointment in her life just like everyone else. The point is, a sense of adventure and appreciation for all that life has to offer is more attractive than relentlessly sticking to routine and taking life’s opportunities for granted. If a woman can’t relax enough to take a spontaneous walk with her child or sing her favorite song in the shower, who wants to join her? Her child doesn’t dare ask her, and her husband doesn’t dare climb in the back of the tub — capiche?

5. Her resilience

Nothing is more beautiful than a woman who refuses to give up. Tenacity, whether in one’s career, marriage, or physical health, is inspiring. The world loves a fighter. Please don’t misunderstand. This isn’t a call to arms or some sort of ultra-feminist mantra. Fighting over what to have for dinner or which movie to see afterwards, that’s just not pretty. Give in a little, girl. Resilience isn’t about a woman’s control or refusal to cede control over to another. It’s about believing that life can never defeat her unless she allows herself to become defeated. Accepting the worst or the best in equal stride, acting in such a way that either outcome will not control her, that’s beautiful.

6. Her confidence

Speaking of beauty, let’s talk about boasting. There’s a fine line between bragging and being confident. Bragging is when a woman deliberately describes herself in a self-congratulatory manner so that others will do just that: congratulate her. Seeking out praise for the sake of one’s ego isn’t just selfish — it’s ugly. Confidence isn’t about wanting others to notice us and wanting them to tell us how good we look, speak, think, or act. Confidence is about a woman feeling proud of how she looks, speaks, thinks, or acts. A woman who doesn’t need other people’s reassurance to help her feel this pride in herself is infinitely more appealing than a woman who incessantly seeks others’ approval.

7. Her energy

Finally, the most beautiful quality about a beautiful woman can be summed up by the total effect of all of the above. It’s her energy. A woman who has an unmatchable vitality for life is and should be idolized. Set her in stone or marble, if she will stay still long enough. Cast her in bronze, something timeless. When a woman follows her passion, shows compassion, pursues her intellect, keeps a sense of adventure, refuses to give up, and believes herself to be worthy, then her energy will be the spark that lights up everyone and everything around her.

Featured photo credit: young girl among dandelions summer day via shutterstock.com

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