Beauty, Beasts and Beholders

 

Inner Beauty, Of Course

Posted June 2, 2012

Well, you know that I can’t do a week of posts regarding Outer Beauty without addressing the legitimate aspect of Beauty, which is, of course, the Inner part.

This will not be an overly long post (again, ha!), because there isn’t much to consider here; we should all know by now that Inner Beauty (or lack of) is what defines us more honestly than what we’re showing on the outside.  I would like to believe that it is the inner beauty of a person with which we fall in love, but, unless you’re Beauty (a la “and the Beast”), there generally has to be an initial outer beauty attraction.  I think it likely rare that a majority of us look past the outside “ugly” to even allow for the inner beauty to manifest.  More commonly, I suspect that most go for the outer beauty, and either never get to the inner beauty part (because perhaps, it doesn’t exist), or it is a slow development over time.

It seems to me, that some of the most beautiful people I have met in my life tend to be ones who are not, to the unenlightened world, considered “beautiful” on the outside.  Perhaps they’re even considered “ugly.”  I have found that often, the un-beautiful people have something more on the inside (or maybe it’s something less? Like pride, conceit, judgmentalism?), and I wonder if it’s because they don’t give a hoot about their outside appearances.  They have accepted their Outer Beauty for what it is (or isn’t), and have employed their energies elsewhere.  I’m not saying that these people are perfect; they have their bad days, and, like the rest of us, may sometimes curse their imperfections.  But that is human, and isn’t that what makes us?

I have a friend with an uncle who was born with cerebral palsy.  He was limited, physically (not enough to keep him from dancing an Irish waltz now and then, though!), and he could be difficult to understand when he spoke.  That did not prevent him from being one of the finest Men I have ever met.  I’m not exaggerating.  He was a gentleman, big-hearted, fun-loving, and an honest-to-God joy to be around.  An on-line search with the question, “how can I learn to love Life?” should direct you to a link on Uncle Frank (as he was known to all of us).  He may have been a little imperfect on the outside, but on the inside, he was Beauty, personified.  No amount of expensive creams, injections, or surgeries can buy that kind of thing.

Of course, there are plenty of people who have the Outer and Inner Beauty contained in one fine package.  Just because a person is attractive on the outside, doesn’t mean there is nothing on the inside.  But, if we all recognized the inner beauty as the only standard, there would be no separation of groups here.  Inner beauty really should be the standard by which we judge our fellow humans.  Imagine all the time and money and mental anguish we would save if we didn’t care how people (we) looked on the outside?

I’m guessing that there are a million studies out there which discuss our natural instinct to stare longer at pictures of attractive people.  There is probably something way down in our genes regarding survival of the species and picking the most attractive/fit mates for reproduction purposes.  This isn’t about picking mates, this is just about recognizing real beauty when we see it.  This is about rising above the standards of outer beauty which we have manipulated and adjusted according to whatever the Beauty Industry has deemed “in” for that month/season/year/decade.

I think we could all take a lesson from Uncle Frank, and others like him.  Perhaps if more of us worked on our inner beauty, we would be more apt to recognize it in others.  We would know that a perfect nose and big lips signify  absolutely nothing, if the heart underneath is small.  Regardless of what is on the outside, Inner Beauty, in my humble opinion, will always be “In.”

 

 

Concepts of Outer Female Beauty- Part 2

Posted May 30, 2012

 

I discussed in my previous post the concept of outer beauty, and the need for non-model females to appreciate the unique traits which make us beautiful.  I mentioned that growing up, there were some fairly uniform female standards of beauty, most of who were white, blonde, and symmetrical.  Thankfully we became wise enough to recognize that this was a silly standard, and the ground-breakers like Beverly Johnson, and Lauren Hutton, and Cindy Crawford (with mole) opened our eyes to that fact.

Now, we appreciate and laud the outer beauty of “flawed” character traits. Moles and gapped teeth are not hidden, big ears are left out in all their glory, resembling the opposite sex is titillating, and looking drug-emaciatedly thin are all celebrated looks.  Skin color and ethnic background are moot.  Everyone is beautiful.

Wellll.  Not quite everyone.  Fat people are never beautiful.

Now of course, I do not believe this, in the least.  But I am pretty sure that 87.6% of the population do.

I am going to come across as slightly contradictory (and maybe even catty) in this post, because, while I celebrate that we have become people who appreciate and applaud unique traits (previously, “flaws”), the thing is, if a person is “fat,” those same unique traits are once again relegated to the “flaws” category.

Actresses and models who we consider “beautiful” or “cute” would not be described as such (hell, they likely wouldn’t be actresses or models, at all) if they were 80-100 pounds bigger.  Add 100 pounds to Ginnifer Goodwin, and her sticky out ears and cute pixie haircut would not be so cute, after all.  Same beautiful face, same great sense of style, but on a fat body, she’s no starlet on a red carpet.  She may be talented and good hearted, but if she’s also “fat” (and I’ll go into that, in a bit), it provokes a sad shaking of the head and a commentary of “hmmm… too bad.”  Like it or not, skinny females can get away with a whole lot more.  I dare you to take any female star with “unique” looks and add 50 pounds to the frame.  Five bucks says they never would have made it through the lobby of a casting call.

Now I’m going to briefly touch upon the idea of what is considered “fat.”  There doesn’t seem to be a magical number in pounds or dress size which is the watermark for crossing over into fat territory.  I think that many women might consider anything over size 12 to be dangerous, and that many men refer to anyone over 115 pounds as “at least 200 pounds.”  Neither of these are fat, unless you happen to be like, 2 foot 2 and the age of 4.

Thankfully, we have come along a bit in our considerations of “big” beauty (the Dove campaign, for one- which of course had some backlash), but there is still a long way to go.  There are some big beautiful female stars out there who break the mold, but the negative Catherine observes that, when one of them loses a ton of weight, suddenly they are reeeeaaaalllly beautiful.

I’m not going to go into a big dissertation here about what is healthy, or about the obesity factor in Americans in particular.  And of course, we prefer to look at people who we consider attractive, and generally that does not include people with waist tires and triple chins.   However, just like with the hairy mole covered guy, we need to recognize that everyone truly is beautiful, regardless of initial impressions.  I’m not talking about “on the inside” or “having a great sense of humor” (which is generally how fat people are described), I’m talking about what is right in front of our eyes.

I’m not even going to rail on about the fact that Outer Beauty is generally crap, and it’s the Inner Beauty which makes us truly beautiful.  Maybe I’ll reserve a separate post for that.  I will say, though, from atop the luxury penthouse suite of my soapbox, that we need to get beyond the first glance.  I DO understand Hollywood standards, and I’m not saying that they should be employing all chubby actresses, or that people shouldn’t try to lose weight.  I am saying, though, that if “flawed” can be beautiful on skinny women, it can be beautiful on the non-skinny ones, as well.  Fat can be beautiful, too.  It’s a fact.

 

 

Concepts of Outer Female Beauty- Part 1

Posted May 28, 2012

When I was growing up, I remember thinking that the most beautiful women in the world were blondes.    I’m not sure if this was due to the fact that I, myself was blonde (and I was identifying with what I knew), or if it was because most of the women in magazines seemed so.  Cheryl Tiegs, Kim Alexis, Christie Brinkley, Farrah Fawcett.. they were everywhere, and I probably disregarded everyone else.

As time went on, I began to recognize that there were other types of beauties in existence.  I almost became anti-blonde, because it started to feel just “blah” and typical.  It didn’t seem unique or exotic, in fact, it seemed rather boring.  I no longer felt “lucky” to be blonde haired with blue eyes (which are now green….telltale?), I felt jealous of those other women who possessed the genes which made them seemingly ethnic and unique and mysterious.  These weren’t women in magazines (yet), these were women I saw every day, out in the world.

If I dyed my hair black and got a tan, I still wasn’t going to look Greek.  If I dyed my hair red and stayed out of the sun, I wasn’t going to look Irish.  It wasn’t just the hair color, it was eye shapes and bone structures and varying natural skin colors which made them beautifully unique and not boring American blonde.

Interestingly enough, and perhaps sadly, I bet that the people with these beautiful traits wished they had different ones.  I’ve seen enough orange-haired Italian women to know this.  It seems like a universal thing to want to look like something you are not.

In my early 20’s I remember having a discussion with a female friend of mine, on the subject of “if I ever owned a hair salon”, and saying that my goal would be to make women work with what they had.  Because that is what they were meant to have.  Straight hair would not be permed, curly hair would not be straightened, etc.  Now perhaps this is a little unfair on my part, because I was blessed (?) with pretty reasonable hair.  It was not too thin, not too thick, not too flat, not too curly, not too straight, not too greasy.
It’s easy for me to say “deal with it”, because I had it mostly good in the hair department, and I didn’t care much about trends, either.

Back then, if you had flat or thin hair, you tried to grow it, then permed it.  It looked good on maybe 3 people, and the rest just looked strange.  It didn’t look like you had naturally wavy hair.  It looked like limp hair trying to make a show of things.  Or fat-lady-at-the-circus-like.  Meanwhile, the wavy/curly haired people were using irons (the kind you use on clothing….), wearing woolen winter hats whilst dressing (trying to get the crown flat), and blow drying for hours trying to avoid the looming disaster of resembling Annie on crack and not even remotely Farrah Fawcett-like.

While hair perming has mostly been eradicated, there are still all those other things which we feel the need to change.  Nose size, boob size, skin shade, lip size, cheekbone prominence, eye color, you name it.  Now let me say a few things here.  For one thing, I’m not talking about disfiguring or painful body ailments.  If they cause physical pain, and can be fixed, I’m fine with that.  For another, I am all for women trying to make themselves look “attractive” or changing up their looks now and then.  BUT, I think that most should learn to work with what they’ve got, rather than chasing some magical version of themselves.

I could go into a huge sidebar here regarding plastic surgery, but I won’t, for now.  What I’m mostly trying to say is that outer beauty can be whatever we want it to be.  There is no magazine cover standard for it any longer, and we need to recognize that our traits, good and bad, are what make us uniquely beautiful.  Our too small eyes or boring blonde hair or big noses or A-cup boobs make us who we are, and that is what counts.

Just ask Jennifer Grey.  She knows.