The Many Facets of Beauty

Beauty is a convoluted and confusing term.  For almost everyone, it conjures up individual biases, past pain, personal preferences, and so on and so forth.  Everyone has their own experience with the word "beauty," and it's not always a good experience.  For some, it feels unattainable, for others, it feels like a curse.  In this section, I don't want to focus on beauty as something exterior (though it is, to a certain extent, and we will talk about that), as much as we focus on beauty as a condition of our hearts and souls. One can certainly poke and prod and primp to attain something that will be visually accepted as "beautiful" according to the current social, economic and geographical standards of beauty, but beauty is something much deeper.  Beauty is something that we exude from the inside out.  You can feel someone truly beautiful from a mile away, and it isn't about how good their hair looks that day.

I believe that true beauty has character, strength and kindness as it's main elements.  We all know women who have amazing character, who are strong, and who have kind spirits and they are so beautiful.  That kind of beauty can't be put on with makeup brushes or faked with a curling iron.  Even though we all know this to be true, the emphasis we place on appearance vs. character is often very disproportionate, especially in modern western culture.

While beauty can be a quality that people possess, it's also something that we experience all around us in the world.  We are mesmerized by the beauty of an incredible sunset.  We're soothed by the melodies of our favorite song.  We sit for hours in front of beautiful paintings in a gallery.  We fill our homes with beautiful textiles, paint the walls our favorite colors, and arrange things in a way that's pleasing to our eyes, all because we want to live in a calming environment.  We have pinterest boards filled with beautiful pictures and inspiration!  Beauty is certainly a part of our lives at the most basic levels, even if we don't realize it.  Throughout our schooling, we come to understand nature as a primarily functional thing, but if you just stop for a second and look around at our natural world, you realize that it's primarily beautiful!    The flowers, the colors, the shapes, the textures!  Beauty feed our souls in a way that nothing else can.  We bring flowers to comfort a grieving widow, or someone in the hospital for a reason.

Like the old saying goes, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there's more to it than that.  Just because you don't think something is beautiful, doesn't mean it absolutely is not beautiful whatsoever.  Beauty exists beyond our own personal opinions.  I may think a piece of artwork is beautiful, and you may think it's crazy and bizarre, even ugly!  Someone may love tattoos and someone else may think they're odd.  Some men love big butts, and some men are attracted to small breasts.  I know that I've always found myself drawn to men with a smaller build, rather than men with big muscles or a thick stature.  That doesn't mean men who are bigger are ugly, but I'm not attracted to their appearance.  It also doesn't mean that men who are muscle-y aren't beautiful, kindhearted men of strong character.  Similarly I don't expect all men (or women) to like my body type, or my personality.  I know that I'm not everyone's cup of tea, and that's perfectly fine.

What's so odd about any social standard of beauty is that it doesn't take into account this vast array of taste and opinion!  Look at flowers, for example.  There are thousands of kinds of flowers in different colors, arrangements, shapes.  They bloom at different times and grow in different conditions.  Rarely do we ever look at a bed full of various flowers and pick out which ones are more beautiful than the others.  We don't make fun of flowers because they're too small or too big.  We might prefer some flowers over others (my favorite is Daffodils), but we don't say that ones we don't like aren't beautiful.  We let flowers be beautiful without judging them or telling them they should bloom one way or another.  We simply let them be what they are and enjoy them for that!  Corny comparison, I know, but I think if we viewed our fellow people more like flowers, we'd be much less critical, and enjoy their individual beauty so much more.