Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder’s Ten Magical Eye-Stalks

When I was a kid, I loved reading D&D so much (I hadn’t yet played it yet) that when I heard the phrase, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” I thought the saying literally meant like, an actual D&D Beholder monster — you know, the big floating one-eyed volleyball with all the phallic eye-stalks? For some reason, I assumed the Beholder was the arbiter of beauty, which I found somewhat ironic given that the Beholder was one ugly motherfucker. But maybe that, I thought, was the point. Maybe that said something about the subjective nature of beauty: if such a grotesque monster was the keeper of the ideal, maybe beauty was a wildly moving target?

And now, with a little perspective, I have come to believe that someone out there thinks the Beholder is pretty. I mean, even in its ugliness the creature is a marvel of monstrousness — beautiful in its horror, elegant in the calculations of its nightmare fuel. One assumes that other Beholders think Beholders are fucking hot. Right? A Beholder sees another Beholder across the room and licks its razor-fang teeth while rancid-smelling saliva patters at the ground beneath it. Its eye-stalks bulge and stiffen. Its crevices weep with excitement.

This is a post more about our idea of beauty than it is about the D&D Monster Manual, by the way.

Anyway, that weird preamble leads me to this blog post — “Not Everyone Is Beautiful” — which is one of those posts I’ve seen ping-ponging around Facebook. Facebook seems to be where I get my rage from these days (seriously, it’s like a neverending well of fresh, clean scowl juice).

So, here I am.

The title of that post makes its point clear.

Not everyone is beautiful.

Okay.

That idea, and the post that supports it, is at least half-bullshit.

I understand its point, somewhat, and at the core of its argument, I agree: beauty, physical beauty, is given way too much priority. In fact, let’s fast-forward to the end of the post:

I want to tell you something, whoever you are. I don’t know if you’re beautiful, funny, smart, friendly, musical, caring, diligent, athletic, or anything else about you. All I know is this:

You are valuable.

You are important.

You are interesting.

You are worth loving.

So forget about “beautiful”. It’s become an ugly word anyway.

That’s great! Well-done, sir! I agree.

That’s a killer end to that post, and is just, aww. It gives my tummy a tickle of warmth and possibility. Unfortunately, you have to slog through some less… erm, agreeable stuff to get there.

Everyone is not beautiful. Some people have tumors the size of a second head growing out of their ears. Some people have skin like the Michelin man. Some people lose fingers, legs, or eyes in horrific assembly-line machine accidents. People have warts and blemishes and hair loss and dead teeth and lazy eyes and cleft palates and third nipples and unibrows.

YES HA HA HA THE DEFORMED AND DISABLED CANNOT BE BEAUTIFUL

THEY ARE UGLY AND SHOULD JUST ACCEPT THAT

I MEAN JEEZ

whoa, wait, wut.

Holy crap, really?

A cleft palate takes you off the beauty list?

My father was missing a finger.

Hair loss? Hair loss? I’m going bald. Uh-oh.

(And a third nipple is just one more nipple to love, I’ll have you know.)

He goes onto say:

There are plenty of people that are not physically appealing to look at, the primary and most widely used meaning of the word “beautiful”. So why do we use the word as a catch-all for any sort of positive attribute?

Nobody says, “Everybody is a good listener.” Nobody says, “Everyone is athletic to somebody.” Nobody says, “You are an amazing writer, whether you know it or not.” I keep waiting, but they never say it.

But then later:

But the fact is, we don’t own the word. The world owns the word, and to the world, “beauty” is physical attractiveness and nothing more. To use “beautiful” in our wider, deeper, more important meaning only confuses the issue. It sends our young women horrible mixed messages, telling them that everyone is beautiful, and sending them into despair when the boys flock after someone with a thinner waistline and a wider bust.

Which is all a bit of a mixed message, innit?

“Why do we use ‘beautiful’ to mean more than it does, except also, we can’t, because the world thinks it means one thing and now we’re trying to shoehorn it to meaning another, so it’s the world’s fault, but it’s also our fault for trying to redefine it and, uhhnnngh –“

BOOM.

*skull fragments like grenade shrapnel*

Athleticism is measurable. So is one’s writing skill. Not perfectly so — these things always have a whole lotta wiggle room. Beauty, though? Beauty has no meaningful measure. Even if you were to believe that beauty is only a physical standard, it’s a target moving so erratically it might as well be taped to the back of a meth-addicted terrier chasing a coked-up squirrel. What I think is beautiful isn’t what you think is beautiful. That’s not scary; that’s amazing.

And the beauty of the word ‘beautiful’ (see what I did there) is that we are perfectly allowed to use that word to describe things that have nothing to do with corporeal attractiveness. We can use that word “beautiful” to refer to poems, songs, meals, bowel movements, sex toys, tweets, whatever the futzing fuck we want. It can describe experiences. Moments. Sounds. Ideas. Thus proving it is one of those wonderful Swiss Army words — it has variable utility. 

I recognize that the point of the dude’s post is that, hey, beauty is an unreasonable standard. But it’s the solution — “stop saying everyone is beautiful” — with which I disagree.

Maybe not everyone is beautiful.

I’m not going to say that about Hitler, you know? And that has nothing to do with his physical aspects (though that little poop-smear of a mustache would disqualify him anyway, I think).

But most of us really are beautiful.

And someone will find us that way.

They’ll look at our love handles and weirdly-shaped toes and the constellation of funky moles across the expanse of our backs, and they’ll find us beautiful. Regardless of cleft palates or tumors or nipples-in-excess-of-expectation. And if they don’t find us beautiful for the things that we have — if they cannot look past blemishes and weird toes and the occasional disability — then hey, fuck ’em. (I mean in the condemn them to hell way, not in the have sex with them way.)

It’s not just that we’re all beautiful. We’re also all awkward, and uneven, and ill-shaped, and weird in some fashion. Yes, we all have zits, moles, lumps, bumps, cellulite, stretch marks, odd teeth, weird fingers, hangnails, ingrown hairs, ingrown toenails, and so on, and so forth. You can’t Photoshop reality (and those poor souls that try often end up mutating themselves with plastic surgery into something resembling cat people). And on the inside, we all have bad thoughts and self-doubt and things we’re not good at doing. If I try to put together IKEA furniture, I will end up either a) accidentally swallowing the allen wrench and having it perforate my bowels or b) going blind with rage and spree-killing half of my neighborhood. Every IKEA thing I build is like: “Why are the shelves upside down? Did you put a hole in the drywall? This is supposed to be a shelf and it looks like a sacrificial wicker man, instead.”

We’re all beautiful.

And we’re all not beautiful, too.

And that’s fucking beautiful, man.

I don’t want to see this sentiment lost. I don’t want us to turn away from the idea that we’re all beautiful, because the unfair standard that the post talks about? This is how we get shut of it. We escape it by recognizing the standard is bullshit but also by recognizing that we all meet the qualification in some way. We escape the standard set by the larger media through social media: it’s here we can introduce and champion the idea that, hey, fuck that shit, George. We really all do have something to write home about. We all get to be beautiful to someone.

You, dear reader –?

You’re beautiful. And you over there. And over there.

Even you, D&D Beholder. Even you.

I mean —

Except Hitler.

Because Hitler.

32 comments

  • June 29, 2014 at 9:29 AM // Reply

    God, I hate that phrase. The D&D twist makes it a whole lot more bearable I’ll admit, but still, if you really think about it, it’s horrible.

    “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” basically means that beauty is an external thing that others project onto you without your input, and in a society that tells everyone (but let’s be fair here, mostly women) that beauty is of paramount importance, that’s just asking for a mess of unfortunate implications. It’s basically telling you that confidence and body acceptance are 100% external, dependent on the judgement of others, and that’s fucked up. (And yeah, the ableism and other assorted -isms that phrase comes with is sickening.)

    Beauty isn’t in any third party’s eye, monstrous tenfold or otherwise. Beauty is between your ears. It’s such a nebulous concept that simply believing in it makes it so. I’ll grant that attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder, since attraction is a process that takes two parties, but beauty is intrinsic, personal and internal. It has nothing to do with how others perceive you and everything with how you perceive yourself. Listening to the “beholders” is a one way trip to body-loathing town. Do not go there. The beds are lumpy and the waiters are rude.

    Not everyone is beautiful, no. Some people have internalized the list of traditionally attractive traits, what society tells them they should be, checked the list against themselves and feel lacking and ugly as a result, and that’s fucking heartbreaking. Nitpicking the use of the word “beauty” isn’t going to help those people. And neither is telling them that it’s out of their hands, beauty is solely what others project onto you, nothing to be done about that.

    Fuck that. Fuck that so hard.

    • I feel you’ve missed the point. You can think yourself beautiful, for instance, as you too are a beholder. Or reject the idea that beauty is defined solely by physical appearance entirely. Beauty is your own idiosyncratic concept to do with what you will. If only we’d stop trying to define other people’s standard/s…

  • Word Master, you continue to inspire.To paraphrase Taj Mahal – “happy to be what I am.” Just be yo’ natchal self!

    • It really is about believing in yourself, though. It’s easier to think that you’re an awesome person if you’ve done a lot of awesome things, but even people who haven’t done anything particularly outstanding can still have a high self-esteem if they’re confident in themselves. There’s a fine line between confidence and full-blown egotism, sure, but sometimes the only thing that’s keeping wonderful, selfless people from truly shining is a lack of belief in themselves. I’ve known a lot of sweet, thoughtful, and intelligent girls who were pretty much completely socially crippled because they saw themselves in such a negative light.

  • Figure drawing class in Art School. All it takes to understand that everyone, everyone is actually beautiful…and I mean physically eye-appealingly beautiful…is to try to draw them.People are gorgeous. They are lumpy and discolored and hairy and weird..even the “super models.” Try catching that all on paper and you might even find the Beholder a little bit sexy. (at least he’s easier to draw)

    Great post. I watched the article sling by on Facebook too, but hadn’t read it yet.

  • And yet we all see the woman, or the man, who stuns us with looks, who makes our heart beat faster, who arouses us in every way possible, just by walking into the room. And I don’t care how beautiful she is on the inside, no man who has a choice, meaning one who draws physically attractive women readily, is going to move mountains to marry a woman who looks like the wicked witch of the west. Physical beauty matters in this world, and even if it does vary, it does not vary all that much. Nor is there anything wrong with this.

    Barring one night stands, of course the internal matters more than the external, but let’s not act like the external doesn’t mater. It matters greatly. This is just basic biology. Whatever society tells us, our DNA has a basic checklist. Society gives us variations over the years, long hair or short hair, one hundred pounds or one hundred and fifty pounds, whatever, but beauty is more than what society says, and ugly is is ugly, period.

    In the world of movies, TV, advertising, etc. expectations are only unrealistically high for some. Others meet them readily. This is what I think galls many when they say the expectations are unrealistic. Yes, for most, but not for all. Why get upset over this? Got news for you, high expectations in any area, and field, are unrealistically high for most people, be it the world of musicians, or the world of nuclear physics, or the mundane world of business, most people stand zero chance of being anywhere near the top. We are not all equal externally, or internally. Whether it’s physical beauty, internal beauty, athletic ability, or intelligence, we are not all equal. This is simply how it is. You’re ugly, but it doesn’t matter is pure bullshit. Of course it matters. Trying living life in that body and you’ll find out fast how much it matter. Beauty matters, too. It matters a lot.

    And, no, not everyone is physically beautiful in any way, shape, or form. This doesn’t make the person worthless. That person may still be the most valuable human being withing a seven state radius. But that person is still ugly. That’s life, deal with it. That person has to, and it does help having well-meaning airheads preaching about how we’re all beautiful. No, we aren’t.

    And while most people are important, and while most people do have value, and while many are beautiful inside, let’s not act like Hitler is the only exception. I understand Hitler is just a stand-in, but he’s a stand-in for millions and millions and millions of people who are as worthless, as ugly in every way, as a turd in a toilet bowl. Both might make good fertilizer, but that’s about it.

    • “And, no, not everyone is physically beautiful in any way, shape, or form. This doesn’t make the person worthless. That person may still be the most valuable human being withing a seven state radius. But that person is still ugly. That’s life, deal with it. That person has to, and it does help having well-meaning airheads preaching about how we’re all beautiful. No, we aren’t.”

      File under: YOU’RE BEING AN ASSHOLE.

      The fact that you’re championing a standard that literally only exists across Photoshop-enhanced magazine covers and other major media outlets is fucked up. And worse, you’re doing so by then cleaving to “ugly” as its opposite (because obviously those of us who aren’t supermodels are just plum ugly) and saying that those who preach otherwise are “well-meaning airheads.”

      The standards of beauty — even the vainest, cruelest standards, the ones that speak only to a narrow range of physical attributes — have deviated WILDLY over time and across culture. Sorry.

      “This is just basic biology. Whatever society tells us, our DNA has a basic checklist. Society gives us variations over the years, long hair or short hair, one hundred pounds or one hundred and fifty pounds, whatever, but beauty is more than what society says, and ugly is is ugly, period,” is horseshit, and horseshit is horseshit, period.

      “Our DNA has a basic checklist” is, also, super-fucked, by the way.

      — c.

  • My husband shot “Well, beauty is in the eye of the Beholder, after all” back at me after a long rant about Beholders. I don’t remember which game I was playing or what I was saying, but his comment came out of nowhere, fit PERFECTLY, and made me laugh until I cried. I haven’t been able to separate the expression from Beholders ever since, and it’s good to know there are others out there experiencing the same:D

    About judging beauty in the physical sense – it all starts so early. I can remember admiring princesses and Barbies when I was just a few years old, and I longed intensely to be that pretty, to have all those nice clothes (with glitter), to have that great hair. I don’t know what I thought would be different if I looked that way – maybe my life would be more exciting? I would be admired? As girls, we judged ourselves and each other, and most of us fell short. After years of internalising this beauty critic, I try to stop. But there’s also a tiny voice inside me that says things like “Oh, sure, everyone knows what it means when they say she’s got a great personality/nice eyes/great mind”. Every characteristic other than being beautiful sounds like a compensation for not being beautiful. This is what growing up in a society focused on beauty does to you (or to me, anyway).

    There’s a link between beauty and goodness/worth in most stories that even makes beauty have moral or spiritual worth. How a character is described is often a cue to their moral compass or their role in the story. Though we’ve branched out in storytelling over the years and don’t have to have likeable, moral, and good main characters any more, we’re stuck with beauty. As long as the MC is hot, they can have all kinds of flaws. Stories where the writer is supposedly trying to widen the beauty concept to include more people (I see a lot of this in YA) often do this by making the MCs have low self esteem instead of having looks that aren’t conventionally beautiful. It’s like in the movies when the geeky girl takes off her glasses and everyone realises she was beautiful all along. It doesn’t expand the concept of beauty; it just places the MC within it.

    Because of all this going on in the background, I think it is important to find the people that really see something beautiful in you – and I mean in a physical sense, too. It’s important to feel attractive, to feel desired, to feel that you are pleasing to look at. Keeping up with society’s beauty standards is a competition, and it’s impossible to win. You think that if you just do this or that, you will finally at least be in the race – but then you discover that the rules have changed, and you have to invest even more time/money/health. Important messages you can get from “your people”: you don’t need to change to be beautiful to them, and if there is a competition, it’s one that you will win, because you know best how to be you.

    As you say, Chuck, the people who don’t make you feel beautiful aren’t worth your time.

    – I’ve now written “Beauty/beautiful” so many times it’s lost all it’s meaning to me. Maybe that’s the way to go?

  • Great post and I love the video “All about that bass”. I will only add that I think beauty always says so much more about the person making the judgement than it does about the person being lifted up or being torn down. We can all learn to broaden our perspectives, to see more deeply, to be more kind. It can be humbling when we learn that what we judge so readily in others is also what we fear or desire most in ourselves, but it’s only in that humility that we can truly be the beautiful creation we are all meant to be.

  • “The idea that beauty is a measurable thing sounds like something you would get from a computer that writes poetry. Beauty transcends. Aesthetics are subjective.” ~ Tony Brown

  • Everyone is beautiful. Not everyone looks beautiful to everyone else. Sometimes it’s worth investigating further and deeper, other times you encounter that deal breaking quality that outweighs the positives. People are cool like that.

  • June 29, 2014 at 12:48 PM // Reply

    There’s a guy who bags groceries at a local market who looks like a D&D mongrelman. His eyes are different colors and neither is where it is supposed to be. He has a flipper topped with a Hooven nail where one hand should be. Coarse hair sprouts from random places.
    He’s very kind, and one day, I mentioned Star Wars, and he lit up. He LOVES Star Wars, and he was telling me about how great Luke Skywalker is with such passion and joy that, in that moment, he was sublime. Beautiful.

    I think everyone has that moment, and the right person for them lives in that moment forever.

  • We all know that physical Beauty is dictated by the ad companies, TV movies and model agencies … except not so much, because we are the ones subscribing to their definition due to the fact that they know what our culture currently sees as beauty. And the difference today from even 20 years ago is everyone has access to it, the communication of it is so quick. Used to be fashion and beauty ideas took a couple of years to go from Paris to Bodunk USA, now it is instantaneous and has instantaneous buy-in. Certain African cultures used neck rings to elongate necks of their women so as to prevent them being stolen by neighbouring tribes. They made them ugly ,,, which became a mark of beauty to them. In the Victorian age and into the 20’s beauty meant pale skin and being slightly plump. After the late 50’s and 60’s exposure to the Beach boy /California movie star lifestyle, thin and tanned became vogue. But this is all about physical aspects. Do not discount first impressions, as we are genetically hard-wired to respond to that as well. So outside beauty (sorry to say) is important. BUT we as thinking beings rise above our genetic predilections and see inner beauty- humour, personality, etc. Don’t we? Well don’t we?

    The way the original blog post comes to the conclusion we should just not use the word to mean this or that …. smacks to me rather Orwellian.
    Words change and shift and meanings are perverted, even inverted all the time. The word judgement. Judgement is a good thing. We need to use our judgement to make good decisions. But god forbid you judge someone now. Huh?
    I have a right to my opinion, but that doesn’t make my opinion right. It could be wrong if not based on fact. And you should judge me and my opinion accordingly then.

    Discrimination. Used to mean to use your judgement to make a good choice about something. “Oh he is so discriminating in his choice of curtains.” Now it is describes something society abhors.
    Both those words we can use to mean both sides of the coin now – good and bad.
    But these changes occur according to culture and societal change and perception. They aren’t forced upon us by bloggers/pollsters/focus groups advocating one word should not be used over another or in two senses at the same time. If your daughters are mixing the messages up, educate them. Use your words, schools, blogs, Oprah to explain the difference between physical and inner beauty, what the word can mean in both instances and the importance of each. Don’t need to ban a word or force everyone to use it differently.

  • Perhaps the confusion comes because beauty is really referencing what someone *feels* about someone or something, not some external (or even internal) quality of the thing. That’s why we can apply it to almost any kind of thing, be it physical, intellectual, moral, etc.

    I mean think about it. If a robot told you that you were beautiful, would you care? If so, then you probably have deeper issues that need professional help; for the rest of us, why not? Probably because you know it’s a hunk of silicon and polymer which doesn’t feel *anything*. So beauty means nothing coming from it. Even if it said you were beautiful, you’d know it had nothing to do with the robot. At best, it would be from some pimple-faced-nerds definition of beauty – at least as well as s/he could encode that definition into a cold, unfeeling string of ones and zeros.

    Now, when you apply the term beauty to physical beauty vs. emotional beauty, it may evoke different *kinds* of feelings (the physical kind vs. the emotional kind, if you get my drift). But the word is still about making someone who has feelings actually feel something positive (to be clear – something that *they* feel is positive, some emotion they want to have).

    This is why “everyone is beautiful to someone” is a one-size-fits-all phrase that is probably true, yet almost completely meaningless anyway. And this is why “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” probably makes more sense in the context of a hideous fictional floating eyeball than in real life – eyeballs are but one sensory processor involved in making us feel things and decide what’s beautiful.

    And that Hitler thing. Why do we have to talk about a guy who got a hard on from mass murder? Oh yeah, because in most of us he evokes a gag reflex instead of that beauty thing. The scary thing is an awful lot of people must have thought he was beautiful, otherwise he would never have gotten where he was. Why did they think he was beautiful? Because he made them feel something they wanted to feel. If you’ve ever felt pure patriotism or loyalty (which some might call pure naivete) you know it’s a beautiful feeling; so much so that many people cling to it even long after all evidence shows that the object of that loyalty is alot less pure than the feelings it evokes.

  • Oh Chuck, I wish you’d been around when I was a kid growing up! I could have done with someone like you around.

    I grew up in a family that felt almost duty bound to constantly tell me in which specific ways I was ugly, and hell yeah it had effects. In my bedroom I had a dressing table with a mirror attached to it, and for over half of my teenage years I had that mirror permanently covered with a sheet, so that I never had to look in it and ‘accidentally’ see my reflection. No-one in my family ever made a single comment about it, so I grew up assuming my attitude was completely normal – even justified, considering how little effort I obviously put into trying to minimise my apparent ugliness. It took leaving home – and meeting the man who finally saw something in me that all those others didn’t – to realise that it WASN’T normal to hate the sight of yourself THAT much.

    I have a little boy of my own now, and while I (gently but firmly) call him out if he calls anyone ‘fat’ or ‘ugly,’ I also make sure I tell him he’s beautiful every chance I get. I’ve been told by certain people that I’ll make him ‘big-headed’ and ‘full of himself’ by doing that – but y’know what? I don’t care. I’d rather my son grows up believing he’s a total hottie than have him go through the misery I went through.

  • I think that if you redefine the word “beautiful” so it applies to everyone (and everything?) then it has lost its meaning. It has become a null word that we might as well not use at all. Elle McPhearson is beautiful, I am beautiful, someone with 40 years of cigarette smoke wrinkles and yellow teeth is beautiful. Saying “you are beautiful” means exactly nothing if it doesn’t differentiate between people.

    • Yep! We are propagating this notion in our schools with the ‘non-competitive’ style of interaction. The idea is, it damages a kids self esteem to ‘lose’. (not as if in real life you ever lose) So everyone gets a passing grade, (no matter how hard they work) everyone in sports day gets a ribbon (no matter how hard they practise).
      If everyone is ‘special’, no one is special.
      Kids see thru this. My youngest came home from sports day in disgust, vowing never to be in one again. He had tried really hard and came in second in some race or another and felt really proud, until he saw the last place finisher get the same ribbon as he did. Then it meant nothing. How does that foster self esteem?
      This does not teach kids about life. It is more important to learn how to lose than it is to learn how to win sometimes.

  • I disliked that post, especially because it is just factually wrong when it says that people use the word beautiful for physical attractiveness exclusively. That’s one use, but you hear it all the time. When an announcer at the world cup says a shot, or a play, or a goal save was beautiful it isn’t because the action taken was physically attractive. The same when we’re discussing a work of art or somebody’s prose.

    They are so hung up on the fact that they think of beauty as a physical attractiveness descriptor alone to miss the point that the saying “everyone is beautiful” is NOT using the word beautiful as a physical descriptor. It’s like saying “everyone has a talent” or “everyone is good at something.” There is some aspect of every living person that can be perceived of as beautiful. To some – watch the Riddick movies – it is a high level of lethality and death dealing present in something. To others it’s the ability to see the humor in everything. Doesn’t matter.

    Their comparison points are also bad because they’re taking something you have no say in (even the most physically fit person could be not physically attractive) and comparing it to a bunch of things that take time to learn. Everyone is not a good listener, writer, artist, or other things like those because they take time and dedication to become good at. But like the oft passed around quote attributed to Einstein says “a fish will look like an idiot if judged by its ability to climb trees.”

  • My mind keeps chasing in circles on this one. Beauty is a tricky thing—value, confidence, talents, self-care, all these things and more all are deeply entangled with what makes someone beautiful or not, as seen in the eyes of another individual. Because I mean, sneak me backstage of a fashion show with all the male models, where the bodies are “perfect” but they’re just bodies? Meh. Give me an average looking guy on the metro who is engulfed in a good book? Oh baby, that’s a beautiful man. And bigger-picture societal standards are constantly shifting, too. So to put any kind of boundaries on who can or cannot be beautiful is ridiculous.

    However. The guy’s still got a very solid point. The meaning of the words we used are shaped by our culture—and then they turn right around and shape US. So when we want to tell someone they matter have value, and the word we choose to encapsulate that is “beautiful” … well, this blogger is right that the reason “beautiful” is the word we choose for that is because of our culture’s emphasis on physical attractiveness. It’s an attempt to redeem the word. But does it work? Largely, I think this guy is right that it doesn’t do all that much in the big picture. When we use “beautiful” for these other traits, to some degree we are perpetuating that value on the physical, regardless of what way we mean it, because the word “beauty” is always laden with the connotations of all its meanings. The word “beauty” has baggage. Or in other words, we’re validating that “beauty” is the most important thing, not value or intellect or the other things that we mean to say along with the word. If we want to change our culture’s focus on beauty, or at least shift our OWN focus away from it, we need to learn to talk about people’s value in new ways.

  • There was an interesting thing on TV recently where a bloke called Sir Robert Winston proved that we are actually attracted by our sense of smell. Not only that but we will choose a mate who is our best genetic match. They took five genetically different women and got them to sleep in a t shirt. The t shirts were put in bags and Sir Robert had to sniff them and choose one… I know, gross. He chose the t shirt of the woman whose DNA best complimented his. So basically attraction is a nasal thing.

    I’ve always associated beauty with what’s inside and a beautiful face is one that lights up when it smiles, with crows feet that are clearly the result of frequent smiling and twinkly eyes… dimples… you get the picture.

    Supermodels are always good looking but not always beautiful.

  • The “not everyone is beautiful because some people have visual imperfections so it is an impossible standard” rant is so frustrating because they are using a definition of beauty that is too narrow. Ok, not everyone is superficially visually pleasing in that instant-appraisal biologically-programmed way, with the indicators of perfect health, symmetry, nutrition. Not everyone is born a perfect Beholder. But beauty is more than that. Which is why someone can be “visually imperfect” and still beautiful – and art galleys are full of examples of this (Read some commentary on the Mona Lisa)

    But Beauty, like Love or Fear, is one of the abstracts; the dictionary definitions don’t really do them justice. People are still trying to work out what beauty is, how it works in our brains, and why we find things beautiful, and you can spend hours on the Ted website just in the keyword beauty. But I heard the idea that beauty isn’t so much about how a thing or a person looks, as how we feel about it/them – the way that it/they evokes emotions within us. It that is true, everyone really is or at least can be beautiful. Because someone can look at you, even just for a moment, and be reminded of a childhood friend and feel strong emotion and find you beautiful. But to find you consistently beautiful as other people have mentioned, perhaps you need that inner depth and fire, you certainly need more than a symmetrical face… so then maybe not everyone can be beautiful long term. Like Hitler maybe (we’d have to ask Eva I guess, or perhaps his mother). But those people must be fairly anomalous.

    Why should we give up using a really meaningful (if hard to define) word and sometimes life-saving sentiment just because some person on the internet doesn’t fully understand it? Surely we would be much better off making sure that people see and read and hear more beautiful things so that when someone tries to tie the word beauty to something that clearly isn’t (like an impossible standard) they just pull a confused face and go back to their soaring crescendo or their wonderfully strung together story?

  • I feel compelled to point out that Beholders don’t actually find other Beholders attractive. Each Beholder thinks that it is the only legitimate example of Beholder-kind, and all others are hideous mutants. They reproduce asexually, and kick out their children within an hour of birth. There is literally no time when a Beholder finds another Beholder beautiful, so “beauty is in the eye of the Beholder” translates to “you are all ugly!”

    #completelymissingthepoint

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