Saturday, April 25, 2009

What is Beauty?

The phenomenon of Susan Boyle singing on Britain's Got Talent brings back to focus a question close to my heart: What really is beauty?

In a previous blog, I asked What is Ugly? A New York Times article on Oct. 29, 2009 ("Move Over, My Pretty, Ugly Is Here ") examined how "beauty" and "ugliness" is defined with societies. Maybe folks have overdosed on the skinny, young, and pretty which left room for unlikely heroines like Ugly Betty.

But despite a few exceptions like Ugly Betty, the media gives us a constant stream of what is supposed to be "beauty." Be it on TV, in ads on web sites (particularly dating services), or pop music stars.

Freelance web writter Julie Neumann has a recent blog post "Flaws & Fame: Susan Boyle vs. French Elle Magazine" which is a wonderful examination on the issues of beauty and body image, especially for women.

Interestingly, she notes that because Susan Boyle sang so beautifully, people take away the lesson "you can't just a book by the cover." But Julie also asks, what is Susan did not sing so well? What is her singing was ordinary or even bad? Would everyone just laugh at Susan and consider her of no particular value?

That is the saddest reflection I've heard.

Why do we have this societal idea that the beautiful are admired and have value, and that the ugly are avoided and have little value? This is what is closest to me. Having never had great looks, in the past I've tended to "stay in the shadows" and be less social, assume a lower social standing, and generally view myself as less interesting than the beautiful and popular. However, the joy of middle age is becoming unencumbered by these value systems and gaining confidence in your professional and other abilities. And just not really giving a shit about what people think about you.

But my point is not to focus on me. My concern is that so many will devalue others who do not possess what society defines as beauty. How many people are there that may not be the most attractive on the outside, yet have great talent, intelligence, and/or inner beauty.

And, are we not so much poorer for never knowing these people?


Tanya said...

Wonderful post Rachy. I tottally agree with ur thoughts.


beautybmj said...

beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,
beauty is skin deep
In gods eyes, we all look the same

Barbara said...

Hi, Thank You, YES We all are beautiful in gods eyes.
Im glad you liked my post.:)