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I have a new edition to my modest collection of etiquette and style books from different decades. In TK Maxx last weekend I picked up How to be Pretty though Plain by Mrs Humphry. Originally published in 1899 the book sets out to equip the ‘plain’ girl to make the most of her features and to acquire a beauty by developing good health and a good temper.

Her opening introduction includes the above quotation as she makes her wider argument that, although some people are blessed with naturally attractive features, inner beauty soon spills out into visible outer appearance. An active person nurtures a healthy body, a lazy soul; a slouched position. A kind heart gives warm smiles, a bitter disposition translates into a sour countenance.

And I agree completely with the sentiment. There are many faces that please my eye and soul immeasurably because they are etched with smiles and love. Our faces paint a constantly moving picture of our thoughts and feelings for better or for worse. Taking control of our inner dialogue and aiming to cultivate the higher realms of human character have a much greater impact on a person’s beauty than any outward change of appearance ever could.

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