I had an experience the other day. I was sitting there, talking to one of my guy friends, and he suddenly said something that surprised me. He said, "(Name of girl) is getting less pretty." It came out of nowhere. This guy is one of the sweetest young men I know. Plus, he was talking about a girl who I think is very pretty. I've often wished that I looked more like her. Now, when I responded with a startled "What?", he explained. "Her countenance. Her countenance has totally changed. She used to be a pretty good-looking girl, but she's changed. Countenance is at least 20% of a girl's attractiveness."
Wow. This was coming from a young man I totally respect. He has high standards and is a good example to me. His opinion is one I value. Countenance is at least a FIFTH of a girl's attractiveness?! Dude. This isn't something that I read in a book or heard in a conference talk. This is something that was said to me by a worthy priesthood holder. If that isn't enough reason to carry yourself with confidence, than I'm not sure what else you need.
What is this "countenance?" Dictionary.com says that a countenance is "someone's face or expression." In Mormonland, it means something more along the lines of "spirit" or (I hate to say it) "aura". We believe that every single person is born with the "light of Christ", or what the world calls a "conscience" or "moral compass". It's a guide to prompt people do the things that are right. By the actions we take, we can either brighten or dull the light of Christ within each of us. (P.S. The Holy Spirit is a constant companion to those who have entered into a covenant with Christ, not to be confused with the light of Christ.) When you see someone who has done something good or joyful, people may describe their looks as "glowing". THAT's their countenance.
Simply put, you can see someone's spiritual health in their countenance. It's that light in their eye and the sparkle in their easy smile. Of course, that doesn't mean we should go around judging people by how glittery their eyes are. You can tell when someone is happy and following the commandments of God. My friend is one of these people who is trying his best to do what he needs to. He is a teenage boy, so of course physical beauty is a factor in a girl's attractiveness, as well as how fun the person is, and how well they can actually converse. But at LEAST a fifth of a girl's attractiveness is what Sister Dalton calls "deep beauty".
"I was reminded of my divine identity, and I learned about what I now call “deep beauty”—the kind of beauty that shines from the inside out. It is the kind of beauty that cannot be painted on, surgically created, or purchased. It is the kind of beauty that doesn’t wash off. It is spiritual attractiveness. Deep beauty springs from virtue. It is the beauty of being chaste and morally clean. It is the kind of beauty that you see in the eyes of virtuous women like your mother and grandmother. It is a beauty that is earned through faith, repentance, and honoring covenants."
Wow! As young women, we are always told to look for a worthy priesthood holder, a spiritual partner, for a husband. We want a husband who can see our deep beauty, because that means he loves us for all of us, inside and out, what we are and who we can become. In order to attract that kind of boy, we have to do the things listed by Sister Dalton. She continues:
"The world places so much emphasis on physical attractiveness and would have you believe that you are to look like the elusive model on the cover of a magazine. The Lord would tell you that you are each uniquely beautiful. When you are virtuous, chaste, and morally clean, your inner beauty glows in your eyes and in your face. My grandfather used to say, “If you live close to God and His infinite grace—you won’t have to tell, it will show in your face.” When you are worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost, you are confident and your inner beauty shines brightly. And so “let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and … the Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion.”
There's our countenance we were talking about. It's true what they say about inner beauty. Your potential is divine and royal. Those young men whom you wish to spend time with will recognize that, and help you develop it. You, in return, will be a motivation and support for their development. They will agree with Sister Dalton when she said:
"Develop deep beauty. There is no more beautiful sight than a young woman who glows with the light of the Spirit, who is confident and courageous because she is virtuous."
Click HERE for a great video using a lot of the quotes I used, as well as a link to the full talk.
Think about it.
(Credit where credit is due: Elaine S. Dalton "Remember Who You Are!" April 2010. And of course, to my wonderful friend who inspired me to write this piece. Thanks, kiddo.)