Beauty – a Postscript

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May 1, 2014 by lucieromarin

I forgot to include two important points in the previous post (true to form!):

It is true that a small percentage of the world’s population are naturally ravishingly beautiful or breathtakingly handsome. (I forget if it’s two or six percent, but either way, it’s small). It’s also true that some people, not necessarily ravishingly beautiful, are nonetheless more gifted with clear skin, or lustrous hair, or amazing curves, or whatever, than other people are. But the thing is that when I say they are gifted, I mean exactly that. A beautiful face is just as much a gift from God as is a beautiful voice, or a kind heart, or a good memory, or swift feet. The idea that everything short of physical perfection is a cause for disappointment, angst, or shame (or a reason for looking down on another person) is equal parts marketing, the Fall, and the devil.

Now, obviously it’s an easy idea to sell, because a) beauty is nice to look at, so it’s easy to feel that it matters b) we have lighting and photoshop to help us create artificial standards, and c) beauty can be readily linked to romance or lust, so, as most people don’t want to live without romance or the making of babies, we’re all vulnerable to messages about how to attain them. The only reason why the supermarkets are not filled with products for improving your singing voice are a) bwe don’t associate a beautiful voice with being loved and b) therefore we’re not desperate enough to believe that rubbing cream on your throat will make you sound pretty.

So it’s important to remember that artificial standards are artificial, and they are created a) to sell an idea, which is there to sell products, and b) beauty needs to be loved as one of the many gifts given to us by God. We don’t need to pretend we’re indifferent to it; we just need to know that right way to like it. Just as a few people naturally have ravishingly beautiful voices, while most others have good voices that the right training can make spectacular, a few have naturally beautiful faces, while most others have nice faces that just need the right training (e.g. a smile, and not too much makeup!)

As soon as you become aware of other gifts – as soon as you learn to rejoice in all the other good things there are about people – you’ll find any anxiety about youth and beauty melting away. Your neighbour has that great face; your other neighbour has that great voice; you can make any room look beautiful on a budget of $2, and people love to visit you because you’re the world’s best hostess…and they never go away and think they would have enjoyed the evening more if your hair had been a different colour!

If you find, though, that that anxiety doesn’t just melt away, it’s important to identify your real triggers. When you looked in the mirror and felt depressed, just check if there wasn’t, in the back of your mind, the image of a model you saw on a poster at the bus-stop yesterday. If there was, then, really, it’s marketing making you look or feel old – that message isn’t coming from God, or from anyone who loves you.

It’s true that triggers can be more heartbreaking than that. My traditional trigger is anyone who looks like someone for whom I’ve been dumped, and, wow, you think everyones looks unique, until there’s one face that causes you grief, and suddenly you see it everywhere. But even here you have to realise that it’s grief talking; it’s shock making you feel that way. You don’t feel this way because you were meant to look like her; you feel this way because grief hurts, and hating your face isn’t going to make it hurt less. (On the contrary; dressing up and rediscovering your own personal kind of pretty can make it hurt a whole lot less!).

One more thing. Do not compare yourself to married people. The world is not divided into beautiful married people and ugly single people. I learned this the hard way. I used to look at other women and think, “Oh, the poor thing. She’ll never get married,” and then find out that the Poor Thing was, in fact, married, whereupon I’d go cold with horror and think, “But if they can think she’s pretty, how ugly must I be?”

This happened repeatedly, until I realised that a) this experience was the universe telling me not to be a superficial and judgemental viper about women, and b) it’s stupid, because there is no they. Men are not just a great big faceless lump of boy-flesh, void of individuality or personal taste. (This is why an bad experience with a man should not be taken as representative of all men). Every married person is not seen to be gorgeous by everyone else. Sometimes, it’s only the spouse who thinks the other is gorgeous…and that’s fine. You do not need to be ravishingly beautiful to the world in order to be ravishingly beautiful to your spouse. God has done this deliberately so that we don’t all have to fight each other with clubs in a battle to marry the same person!

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