The topic of redefining and recapturing beauty is on many people’s minds. For example, we hope you had a chance to read yesterday’s post about the Beauty Redefined project. We’ve mentioned here the “Recapturing Beauty” campaign that the Women’s Services and Resources department at Brigham Young University held last semester. Stephanie Nielson (otherwise known as NieNie) was the kickoff speaker. The video of Stephanie’s presentation is available on BYU Women’s Services’ website.

Speaking of BYU Women’s Services, they want to hear *your* thoughts and experiences about this topic of defining and discovering what beauty means to you. As a follow-up to their recent Recapturing Beauty campaign, they are holding an essay contest. From their website:

Tell us about your journey to discover your own unique beauty. Where are you in that journey?*

*this means you don’t have to be the poster child for self acceptance. We want to know about the struggle, too.

What is beauty? How did you determine this?

What experiences and people have helped you discover beauty in yourself?

Note: Although the cash award is only available to BYU students, the essay contest is open to anyone who would like to participate. Entries must be sent by midnight on March 1, 2011 and can be emailed to recapturingbeauty at gmail. See their website for essay writing tips.

We also wanted to share an inspirational video we featured in 2009, which was sent to us by Erika. Erika was in cosmetology school when she initiated a service effort to help women who were completing their one- to two-year program in a local, non-denominational addiction recovery shelter. Erika says this about her experience:

The idea to help women in a local shelter came through listening to inspirational people whom I met while in school. One was a really sweet teacher who talked about how he lived behind a men’s homeless shelter. On his day off he would take a chair out to his front yard and post a sign on his fence offering free haircuts. The other was a very inspirational woman who came to our school. Her name is Sister Bonnie. She is a Catholic nun. She became a nun and then asked her convent to pay for her to go to beauty school.  When she got done, she opened a shop in a homeless shelter bathroom in a super dangerous neighborhood.  She talked about the change that came over each homeless person as she took the “weariness of the road” from them. With such wonderful examples, how could I not do my part? …

When the women in the shelter heard about the idea, they were surprised and felt blessed. They made me feel like I was an instrument in Heavenly Fathers hands. [See here for a news story that includes one woman’s poignant feelings about Erika’s service.]

I know that the Lord sees us with the eyes of a Creator — a Creator that put time and love into us. He wants us to be happy. He wants us to love ourselves. For me, helping others feel beautiful helps them to see themselves the way He does. It also helps me to feel real joy! The kind of joy that only comes from serving others.

We were inspired at how Erika and others used their talents to serve other daughters of God who were at an important crossroads in their lives. (We were also inspired by these women’s stories!)

day-of-beauty1(Please click on the picture above to view Erika’s Video: Day of Beauty)