Beauty in the Eyes of the Beholder
The search for beauty is fundamental in every man. The search is as relevant from the time of our cave dwelling parents to our generation today.
It makes me wonder what was the concept of beauty among cave dwellers, when grooming was in its early stage, when shampoo and perfumes and jewelry were not invented yet. Or even among our fundamentalist Muslim sisters who cover every single part of their bodies with black cloth. I’ve seen some of them even wear gloves and socks, aside from the “avaya” that they put on to cover themselves.
The concept of beauty is often dictated by culture and current beliefs. In the Renaissance for example, obese and inflamed bodies were the norms of beauty while today, we tend to worship anorexic shapes.
The search for beauty is an enigma, a puzzling problem that is difficult to comprehend.
The search for beauty can be macabre. In the court of Louis XVI, women drew blue veins on their necks and shoulders to show their nobility.
The search for beauty can be deadly. In 18th century France, men and women apply a powder compound made from sulfur and mercury, which leads to the loss of their teeth and inflame their gums. In some cases, it leads to loss of lives from poisoning.
The search for beauty can be a torment. In 19th century, women wear steel corsets that makes breathing very difficult. We also hear of traditional Chinese women who wear steel shoes to limit the growth of bones in their feet. To me, wearing a shoe 2 sizes under my size is already agony. Now, think of those Chinese women who wear steel shoes all their lives.
The search for beauty can cost a fortune. In the Philippines alone, beauty products makers rake in buckets and buckets of pesos selling products that promise to make people beautiful. This is not counting the weight loss, dietary products and services that promise a sexier you. Add to this the millions of pesos paid to health club memberships and cosmetic surgery. Michael Jackson, I believe you all know him, had an inventory of four nose jobs, a chin implant, eyelid surgery, a face-lift, lip reduction, skin bleaching, and assorted touch-ups.
The search for physical beauty is indeed bizarre.
But there is another form of beauty that is universal to man. This concept of beauty transcends all generations, religions and culture. Amid man’s search for what is beautiful outside of himself, he often forgets that real beauty resides in the deepest recesses of his heart.
In fairy tales, I learned that only the pure of heart could discern the handsome prince in the ugly frog.
It takes a lot of maturity to believe that beauty is not so much in the eye, as in the heart, of the beholder. The measure of one’s ability to recognize the beauty in others is the mark of a truly mature person.
Kahlil Gibran, my favorite poet, claimed that, “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” Each one of us has that light.
Henry James, a famous American philosopher and writer when he first met the English novelist by the name of George Eliot wrote about Eliot, “She is magnificently ugly… She had a low forehead, a dull grey eyes, a vast pendulous nose, a huge mouth full of uneven teeth… [But] now in this vast ugliness resides a most powerful beauty which, in a very few minutes, steals forth and charms the mind, so that you end as I ended, in falling in love with her”.
So ladies and gentlemen, if you doubt in yourself and believe that you are the ugliest