Thursday, April 12

on beauty

Physical beauty has never been something that I pondered on in my younger years. I know a lot of beautiful men and women from my school or hometown, but I had not been one to deliberate on people’s faces or outward appearance, to praise or criticize them. I know they are attractive in some sense, as everything that is symmetrical probably is, to a viewer’s eye. Nonetheless, I have known people too who have jagged lives and have suffered a few deformities somewhere, and yet they beckon you to take a second and closer look at them and secretly say, my goodness how utterly charming....

As I grew older and met more people, I’ve realized that not all of us think the same way about physical beauty, or more particularly, the pulchritude of a woman’s form. Maybe it’s because I’m the proverbial late bloomer, or just generally careless about my own appearance that I don’t really give a hoot about how the world revolves and fawn over fashion or good looks. Well, not really…I did give a damn about those shoes every now and then. But going back to the form, I have had to struggle a bit to understand why people, men generally, make such a fuss about how women look. Why, in a world where nature has not been fair and benevolent to everyone, only the doe and dark-eyed get more of the stares and the ogling. Why sudden curves and well-defined bumps are synonymous to sex appeal. And if one were born sans these endowments why does it seem that she is fated to live the dismal life. Isn’t beauty ephemeral after all, and everyone will come to a certain plateau when we grow old and wrinkly that it didn’t matter if we were Greta Garbo or an obscure hag?

But I am not a man, and being the opposite sex, I have to say that us women are saddled with the duty of being “beautiful” in the slightly bigoted eyes of men. Hence the make-up, the clothes, the gyms and spas, and all that stupendous endeavor to be one with the metrosexual world. So damn tiring. I am all for beauty. Who wouldn’t want to be called pretty, or cute or beauteous? But what if we’re simply not? I know that it sounds rather myopic to say that, but believe you me; I have seen many instances that people had the temerity to peer through disapproving lenses, and judge others on the grounds of their aesthetics canons. You are considered a lesser mortal if you did not have the proper nose height or hair texture or skin color. Sometimes there is very little tolerance and too much repulsion. I am not saying I am ugly, so don’t mistake my over-enthusiastic commiseration. Oddly, this is the way of the world. You have to swallow it, or die alone with your ugliness and mute indignity. Okay, enough of the doggone hyperbole.

Beauty is something that we gloat on everyday, on things that surround us, our children, our peers, our family, our crushes, people we meet on the streets, actors we see on tv, models we read of on glossy prints…But I wish, that we would as much consider the qualities that lie beyond the alabaster skin and the dark big eyes and the pouting lips or the reed thin body. That in all our exultations about the perfect human form, there are men and women who exist-- deadbeat workers and laborers, peasants, priests, doctors, mothers who live unglamorous and washed-out lives for people other than themselves. That inside everyone of them lies a heart that beats for love, kindness, compassion, and respect. That nothing is more beautiful than having a self that candidly tolerates, and often generously reaches out to others across her white picket fences and her spotless, well-manicured life, to share that which nature has so liberally afforded her to enjoy.

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