Saturday, July 12, 2014

What is Beautiful?

I found this video yesterday.  I was really impressed.

Colbie Caillat's Try

The women in the video go from perfect make-up jobs to (nearly) naked faces.  They go from beautiful, even stunning to people with freckles, blemishes, wrinkles and yet I would argue they are just as beautiful.  In fact, I marveled at how many different types of beauty there are and can be.

So inspired, I showed the video to a couple of friends.

After the video, one of them said, "I don't understand the message of this song.  What is so wrong about trying to look your best?  Shouldn't we want to put effort into our appearance? Why not exercise and keep yourself in shape?"

I stared at my friend, a million thoughts running through my head and yet none of them found utterance. I think I stuttered out a word, "B..b..but..."  And then stopped.  My other friend spoke up, "That's not the message of the song."  We left it at that.

Except I can't leave it at that.  I have a lot of questions by my friend's response.

(1) What does it mean to be beautiful in our society?  What efforts do we put in to make ourselves beautiful?  Are these efforts beneficial to who we are, inside and out?

(2) Are we mis-attributing differences as flaws when it comes to the definition of beautiful?  Do we encourage women to change their flaws or learn to accept them?  Is one method better?

(3) Are there different expectations for beauty between men and women?  Is there spoken/unspoken expectation regarding beauty from the other gender?

(4)  What is the line between accepting yourself and desiring to improve yourself?

(5) At what point are all of our thoughts regarding beauty, acceptance, etc simply reflections of society?  If we were to look at "beautiful" from other cultures, time periods, etc, would we find those concepts so absolutely foreign to us that we would actually find them ugly?

Anyone have any answers?

As for me, there are many moments in my life when I look in the mirror and I like what I see.  I like my eyes.  I like my thick, dark curls.  I like my body.  I like myself.  But when it comes to the world and the image of beauty that is impressed on my mind, I wonder if I will be the only one in my life who finds me pretty and instead, I feel horribly mistaken.  I was never beautiful, I think.  Efforts I make to be beautiful just leave me feeling like I'm putting a lot of effort to still not look beautiful.  Do I need to change myself?  How do I change myself?  Or do I simply change my attitude towards myself and towards how I think other perceive me?

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