Everybody said that my sister Britney was the beauty of the family. I did not really mind them saying so, as it was apparent. What I did not like was the way they pointed out how unattractive I was.
"Is Britney really your sister?" they would exclaim. "It's incredible - you don't resemble her at all!"
Britney's hair is dark and shiny. It flows in waves to adorn her fair, healthy skin. Framed by naturally long lashes, her large sparkling eyes shimmer like opalescent lilies in the lake of the celestial maidens' palace. Her straight nose goes well with her high cheek bones while her full lips are the colour of a red rose. When she smiles, the world would sigh with contentment and her laughter brightens the world. A tall, slim figure with long, slender legs, she is fit to be a supermodel and seems a Greek God or a picture of perfection.
I, on the other hand, am the exact opposite of Britney. I do not possess any striking features and appear to be extremely ordinary and plain. My small eyes, flat wide nose, thick lips and dark complexion could hardly impress anyone.
In the hope of becoming a little more charming, I had tried following exercise programmes, wearing mud packs and applying beauty creams but to no avail. I was disappointed and eventually gave up the efforts to improve my looks. I decided to be contented with what God had given me.
Time flew by and the years passed. Both of us grew up, fell in love, got married and had children. Britney married a doctor and has three children. Despite my common appearance, an accountant asked for my hand in marriage. I consented and till now have borne him two offspring.
One day, I overheard Britney's child arguing with mine.
"It's clear that my mum is more beautiful than yours," said Britney's child.
"That's untrue," my child retorted. "In my opinion, my mum is prettier."
Later, I told my husband Bob about the argument.
"How silly! It's obvious! The beauty of the family..." Bob exclaimed but I cut him off.
"... is Britney. Of course I know!" I said dejectedly.
"No, silly! I meant you!" Bob continued.
Although I found it hard to believe that he meant what he had just said, he was indeed sincere.
"I married you because of your inner beauty. You're kind-hearted, patient, loving and thoughtful - those are the character traits that Britney lacks," Bob elaborated.
"Really?" I asked. "But isn't it true that people generally favour charming and attractive women - or women with outer beauty?"
"A woman's outer or physical beauty can be a bonus, but it's the inner beauty that really matters," Bob further explained. "For instance, when talking to someone for a while, you may find them pleasant or not-so-pleasant at first. But as the conversation continues longer, you may begin to discover personal qualities and traits. Without even realising it, you start to find the person more and more beautiful or charming. In fact, that was what happened when I first met you - you left a good initial impression on me."
Bob's words of encouragement were really uplifting. Now I have finally understood the meaning of the proverb 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' - different people have different ideas about what is beautiful. I am glad and thankful that my husband and children appreciate my beauty. I am no longer ashamed of the way I look.