“We must start looking beyond other’s looks, success, failure, and character. Simply, we must see their value and worth” -Lauren Scruggs, Conscious Magazine, Issue 02

After a life altering circumstance where Lauren Scruggs lost her eye and hand, her heart deepened to give back to others, just as others gave back to her when she was healing.

Emily Dickinson once wrote, “Beauty is not caused. It is.”  Whenever the word beauty is mentioned, most people’s minds start drifting off to models, fashion magazines, and products. Wherever you go, you can see society’s obsession with outward beauty. It is ingrained in our culture that outward beauty is the only definition of beauty, causing people to strive to be outwardly accepted and to be “in style.” Emily’s quote offers an overlooked viewpoint: beauty is not caused. It just is.

It was a cold, wintery Thursday night. I just left my fashion magazine internship and ran over to Culture Espresso in Midtown NYC. I sat down in the quaint, warm coffee shop, reflecting on my day: politics class in the morning was interesting, but it did not grab my attention. For some reason this evening, I could not stop thinking about this internship and why beauty has come to hold such a shallow meaning.  Little did I know that within the next hour, many of my questions would be answered.

Lauren Scruggs, an influential woman defining beauty and founder of Lolo Magazine, entered the coffee shop, and after a little bit, we started discussing her story and why she wants to change culture’s perspective of beauty.

Some people are born with an innate love for art and expression. Lauren Scruggs is one of those people. Since she was little, she has always been artistic and inspired by editorials. She loved incorporating new trends into her outfits, but Lauren also loved observing what others wore, such as her mom who encompassed natural beauty through her organic style. She explained, 

“To me, style has always been more than appearance; I see it as a reflection of personality as well as a depiction of how you view yourself.”

Lauren followed her dreams of breaking into the fashion industry by interning in the Gossip Girl wardrobe department and the Michael Kors showroom in New York. These experiences allowed her to understand what aspects she wanted to pursue in the fashion industry. After completing these internships and returning home to Dallas, she experienced a culture shock, as she was used to being surrounded by fashion-passionate people on a daily basis. Lauren says, “I was constantly learning, constantly seeing new perspectives, constantly inspired. To keep myself challenged and infused in creativity in Texas, I decided to start my own blog. That’s when I found my voice for writing. I loved it. It kept me very engaged, and for the first time I had an interest in dissecting fashion into words.” At the same time of starting her blog, her good friend connected her to a woman in Dallas who had her own online fashion magazine. This woman took Lauren under her wing, introducing Lauren to Fashion Week and giving Lauren the opportunity to report on shows. She explained, “After graduating college, I wanted to encompass my love for people, business, and creativity into one. That’s what led me to starting my own website.”

Lauren’s goals were similar to most ambitious recent college grads’ dreams: achieving entrepreneurial success, reaching the next goal, and making enough money to independently support herself. Then, tragedy struck. Lauren went on a flight above Dallas with her family to view Christmas lights. When Lauren exited the plane, the airplane propeller struck her, causing her to lose her left hand and left eye. After such a tragic incident, many people would just give up on their goals, on their passions, and on their dreams. However, this experience only motivated Lauren more. She still has the same dreams and passions—people and their stories, her faith, creativity in food and fashion, and business, and in fact they have only deepened, causing new interests to emerge. She explained, “After a tragic experience, I quickly recognized (and am still realizing) what’s truly important in life. I aim to weed out my visions that are fueled by shallow or selfish motivation. There is a bigger picture, even in the fashion industry. It is so much more than a structured silhouette, an outwardly beautiful face, or a sublime fabric.” Her realizations are “faith is lasting; relationships are precious; time is valuable; success will ultimately never fulfill.”

After this life altering circumstance, her heart deepened to give back to others, just as others gave back to her as she was healing.
 Her community constantly supported and still supports her family with encouragement. This caused Lauren to have a passion for working with anyone that has lost a limb, specifically females. Lauren said, “Bethany Hamilton and I did our first retreat last fall for 11 girls that have experienced this. It was the most heavenly weekend, and we are looking forward to another one this year. It was such a sweet time of building a community helping other girls feel like they are not alone in this rare journey. Very enriching! I also have a book coming out in a year geared towards teenage girls; I wanted to share my personal experience of discovering true beauty and the meaning of it.”

Lauren finds culture’s obsession with outward beauty exhausting. By working at top places in the fashion industry, Lauren has directly experienced the unfulfilling pursuit. She believes that this obsession causes us to forget about the things that truly matter.  According to Lauren, “identifying yourself by something that eventually fades will only fail.” Humans are valuable, deep-hearted beings, all encompassing different experiences that have shaped each individual life. According to Lauren, “It takes emotional effort to build internal beauty, so we often take the easy way out and just primp our exterior. After succumbing to this habit, we forget to correlate innate attraction to beauty. We forget to really get to know the depths of someone. Because of our visually fixated society, it is easy to direct our attention solely on outward appearance. It’s the first thing we see before we know someone, and sometimes the vulnerability of being known is our subconscious avoidance.“

All people create their own lists of “needs and desires.” Through personal belief and experience, Lauren believes that true fulfillment comes from depending solely on Jesus. As Lauren says, “With Him, you are truly never alone; you always have someone walking through life with you. Putting your faith in God is more than living by rules; it is a wonderful relationship. I talk to God throughout the day, and to witness His daily provision, peace through the unknown, and sincere joy through trial has only made me thankful for my hardship. If we observe the outcome of pursuing things such as success, relationships, and beauty for satisfaction, we soon realize it fails to meet our expectation. So much clarity and comfort comes when you look to God and ask Him for guidance. It all comes down to loving God and loving people.”

People need to start seeing each other differently. We must start looking beyond other’s looks, success, failures, and character.
Simply, we must see their value and worth. Lauren learned the importance of worth and not judging others from her Dad. Whenever she would complain about someone growing up, her Dad would remind her, “remember that everyone has a story.” Lauren says that she will never forget that. She continued, “I have come to realize (and am still learning) that the way people react to you is often a reflection of what is currently going on in their life (or maybe they even just woke up having a bad day! Don’t we all?). We often take things personally, immediately think someone doesn’t like us, or make quick assumptions about a person’s character. We forget to ask questions, acknowledge passions, or encourage a friend or a new acquaintance on their journey.”

Lauren believes that we can inspire others to see their value and worth by actually doing it ourselves. Most of the time people are busy running around and concerned with their own schedules. Thus, if a person experiences your genuine interest in who they are, it may be shocking because this has become a rare experience. Lauren said, “It is interesting how personally putting something to action will quickly change our viewpoint and realization about what we have been missing out on. We need to remember that there are wonderful people around us that we can find inspiration in as we truly get to know them. It only broadens our horizons and builds our acceptance and awareness of people and their stories.”

Everyone has struggles and fears. These are ingrained in our nature. For Lauren, these often tend to co-align. As her life and career defy the status quo, she often finds herself comparing herself to others, all the while wondering if her pursuit that edges on risk is worth it. She says, “I have to dwell on the fact that pursuing my passions and stepping out in faith is way worth the journey. Being one-handed as well as having a prosthetic eye has also caused insecurities that I daily fight through. It is such a reminder that my appearance will not sustain my identity, but rather it must be placed in something unchanging–Jesus. He always sees me as beautiful, and His purpose for me is what truly exudes beauty.” As for future plans, Lauren and her friend are working on foundation to fund prosthetics. Lauren is also plans to release a book next Spring. She is continuing fashion blogging and is excited to continue retreats with her friend Bethany for girls who have lost limbs.

For Lauren, one experience showed her that her whole journey was, in fact, worth it. A Father was taking care of his son and daughter after his family had gotten into a tragic car accident. The outcome was shattering: their mother passed away and “Lolo” (sharing the same nickname as Lauren) suffered severe injury to her foot and brain. Lauren explained, “Her outcome has been miraculous; her personality is the same, and she is walking again!! Her Dad reached out to me because his daughter wanted to talk to me over Skype. He told me that she would look at my picture daily in the hospital to remember God’s power and hope in recovery. As she began walking in rehab, she would think of a comment I made in the hospital when I was getting back to walking as well: ‘10 steps,’ which represents fighting hard. We set up a time to Skype, and it was unreal to be a small part of Lolo’s journey. It was an honor to encourage her in her recovery, and it was such so special to see her joy in a situation that would change her life forever.”

For Lauren, these individual relationships are worth the journey. Perhaps, we can all take Lauren’s Father’s advice:

“…everyone has a story.
 Next time we want to ask someone “Where did you get that nail polish?” Maybe we can instead start asking, “Where did you get that scar?” The beauty is in the story. After all, beauty is not made. Beauty just is.