Maybe it’s the sudden arrival of fall, with its chilly days spent indoors, hugging a cup of coffee and just thinking about life, or maybe it’s the recent departure of summer, with its demand for toned, tan, “beach ready” bodies, but I found myself thinking a lot about female beauty in the past days.
The pursuit of beauty is something that’s drilled into our minds since childhood, and it seems to always be veered towards the physical aspect of it. But in my eyes, beauty is such a complex concept that it makes me wonder: how often do we weigh our physical beauty against other attributes like intelligence, strength, wit, sense of humor, kindness? And why do we let ourselves be consumed by this endless search for the perfect physique?
Let me give you my two cents on the whole physical aspect of beauty: I personally believe there is no universally ideal body or face. Beauty truly and certainly is in the eye of the beholder, and what is drop dead gorgeous to me might be just “meh” to the person sitting next to me. And there’s no denying that there’s also a strong cultural component to beauty. Just think about the African tribes that celebrate long necks and earlobes in women, or of the Japanese who fancy crooked teeth- features that us Europeans see as “flawed”, “weird” and plain “ugly”. So does this mean that physical beauty is totally and completely unimportant? Well, I say no to this statement too- because to be fair, we all enjoy seeing beautiful features, in other humans as well as in our environment, and in the end we are undeniably visual creatures. But I think that what it does mean is that none of us can proclaim ourselves undisputed judges of attractiveness, nor that physical traits are the alpha and omega of the whole idea of beauty.
So then you might ask, “OK, but where do you think beauty really lies?”
Well, to me, it is found:
In my parents’ way of looking at each other, after a lifetime of knowing and loving one another, through good times and bad
In my husband’s smile, making my bare faced, coffee deprived morning self feel like it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread
In my grandma’s weathered, warm hands, always magically making tea and cakes appear whenever we visit her
In the quiet peace on the face of a woman sitting across from me in my favorite cafe, just reading a book and enjoying her cup of coffee
In the excited, incredulous laughter of a little girl on the bus who wanted to touch my fiery red hair
And in many other people and instances that touch my heart and etch themselves as fond memories in my mind. True beauty resides inside of us, stemming from our emotions, our personality, from a steely resolve as much as a carefree smile. And this is really the beauty that I’m willing to pursue and grow. So now I’ll turn the question back onto you and ask that you tell me: What do you perceive as true beauty?