Beauty and Grace

Describe an act of service that has impacted you greatly. What lessons did you learn from the experience?

Look at her.

I swallowed nervously and raised my eyes to regard the figure before me. A girl stared back at me with an expression of sorrow etched into her features. As I raised my hands to my cheeks, she did too, flinching as my fingertips brushed the bruised skin there. I marvelled at the black, menacing scars that had begun to form in her face: the red and brown patchwork of textured skin. And yet a conviction rose above the turmoil of my thoughts: You are beautiful.

These were the words I repeated to my reflection daily as a young girl with chronic acne. Yet, my verbal resolve did little to improve my esteem, which suffered every time someone asked why I looked the way I did. At home, I would brush my fingers across the glossy covers of magazine that featured models with satin smooth skin. I perceived beauty as an external construct that transcended all. And, as long as it continued to evade my grasp, I believed I was resigned to a life of discontentment.

One day, my class visited the Lekki Motherless Babies Home as part of our senior community project. We sang, played, and taught sums to about thirty young children who had been abandoned due to various characteristics their parents had considered ‘defects’. However, I was...

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