What’s So Great About Beauty?

mandgirlslos

“That’s always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they’re pretty. It’s like picking your breakfast cereals based on color instead of taste.” 
― John Green, Paper Towns

I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. The notion of physical attractiveness defining a person’s social status and success in life is, in a word, abhorrent. So why is it that physical beauty is so important in society if it’s something a person has a very limited amount of control over? 

Some days I try and try to shrink myself down to the shallow mindset of an average person in society and see a person not for the internal depth of their soul but instead for just their physical characteristics. But I just don’t get it, because physical beauty is almost always accompanied with internal shallowness. And so I repeat, I just don’t get it.

What is beauty?

Beauty is defined as the following: a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially sight.

You could argue that beauty comes down to things like facial symmetry, natural glow, and keen fashion sense. And that may indeed fit most of the actual definition, but let’s face it, today’s idea of being beautiful comes down to one thing: weight. And I hate that, because the requirement for that form of beauty is to be unhealthily skinny. 

If a woman is told they have a pretty face or pretty hair, it’s not a compliment. It’s a consolation prize. It’s also quite a bit offensive for the recipient of the “compliment.”

But the worst part is that it hasn’t always been like this. Back when food was more scarce, being overweight actually constituted as beautiful.

This leads me to believe the beauty is, above all, an element of culture. As a collective predilection towards skinny people began to occur, a herding effect began to occur. And suddenly being skinny was the only way to be pretty. Through the last 50 years, we’ve seen minor fluctuations where society showed preference to more average girls. But right now we’re living in the thinnest age yet, where skinny is the new plus-sized and bony is the new normal. 

Why do we seek beauty?

I don’t know. There used to be some kind of evolutionary logic to the whole thing. People sought and admire pretty people because they had chances of living long lives, but with supermodels dying of heart attacks from being too skinny instead of too fat, that’s clearly not the case anymore. It’s probably just a cultural groupthink thing.

Beauty is in the heart.

You’ve heard this before I’m sure, but I’m serious about it. If you’re not considered gorgeous by the world’s standards. If you’re not bone skinny or just can’t get your hair to work correctly. If you have to use glasses or openly flaunt your love for “nerdy” things… you’re awesome! There is no greater calling than journeying beyond what the world says and into the uncharted territory that is being yourself. And the next one tells you you’re too fat, slap them in the face. Or at least ignore it.

Unless you are actually obese according to science. In that case you might want to go on a diet. 

And if you are one of those people who looks at other people’s beauty based on strictly look, just know that you’re probably indirectly causing that girl a great deal of internal strife and lack of self-confidence. Your perception of beauty is bad, and you should feel bad. Beauty is located in the heart and not on the skin.

[Thanks to Tiea Martin for suggesting this topic.]
[And yes I’m allowed to use a “Mean Girls” meme.]

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5 thoughts on “What’s So Great About Beauty?

  1. First, I would like to say that I know several physically gorgeous girls with even more beautiful hearts – not every pretty face masks a shallow grave of intelligence, spirituality, and emotion. Secondly, if a woman is told that she has a beautiful face or beautiful hair, that certainly does NOT always mean that she has been insulted or given a “consolation prize.” To say such implies that all humans are shallow and incapable of being sincere except in the face of all-over beauty, which simply isn’t true. And I have known beautiful women – beautiful by the standards of the world – who hurt deeply because of inner insecurities and frailties. No shallowness there. As someone who does not match the world’s standard for beauty, I had to come to terms with my beauty and identity in the Lord long ago – therein lies the answer. The attitudes of others can wound and heal, but only the Lord can give an insecure young girl the strength to stand and fight another day. I fully agree that far too much emphasis is being placed on the Western idea of weight loss as the way to attain beauty (and, thanks to globalization, it is spreading across the world) but true beauty is under attack on many other fronts. When I see a young woman (or man) who serves selflessly or does something kind for someone else, I find them beautiful – outside and inside. In my opinion, a heart for the Lord is the beginning of true beauty.

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    • That was a very well written reply. Know that in this post, I’m not referring to everyone. Obviously not people like you. But I’ve looked at one too many skin and bone fashion models lately that I just had to rant about what has become the cultural norm. But I agree, a heart for God is the ultimate beauty. Getting people to realize that, however, is hard.

      Keep on reading my blog. 🙂 Do you have one?

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  2. great blog Matt. A lot of what I was going to say Annabelle already said – and probably much better than me 🙂

    Too many people are cruel, which has contributed to the current scale of “beauty”. I would actually attach a picture to this if i knew how, but i’ll send it to you on FB, b/c it totally fits this blog.

    That being said, I know some beautiful (literally) women with the best hearts. And I know some beautiful women who are cruel and witchy. (Notice I am toning down my language 😀 )

    I also know some “hot guys” (men) with amazing personal qualities, as well as some that have no personality, or are cruel, or totally superficial.

    I have never, honestly, been one to date only “hot guys”, if anything, 95% of them were not the standard definition of “hot” by any means. Because i found that for the most part, that “type” turned out to be jerks. I preferred intelligence, humor, etc. That is what makes a person attractive to me. Looks will be gone one day – taken by age, etc. Not to say that I didn’t occasionally got reeled in by one who put on an act.

    I myself have self-esteem issues as a result of the XBF who was verbally abusive when he was drunk. And yes, i know what you are going to say – “Why?” But he did it it right after the other “things” had gone on in my life – and it stuck.

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