Sunday, February 21, 2016

The standards of beauty

The standards of beauty in society today are... Overrated. I mean beauty itself, is a misguided priority. It has become something that we hold fundamental, even paramount, to attractiveness, when in reality, it should be something worth considering, but nothing more. It's not more important than being a good person, not more important than inspiring trust. There are even things about how we look that are more important than how beautiful we are. Like having a contagious smile, or kind eyes. These things are just as important to attractiveness, which for us in this day has become synonymous to beauty. 

Something can definitely be attractive without being beautiful, is what I'm getting at. Even on a superficial, visual level. For example, I've been doing some sowing lately, fixing broken shoes and a leather wallet. The stitching isn't nice, but it has a rugged, repaired look. The heavy black thread at almost-even intervals tells a story. And I think this enhances the attractiveness of that wallet and those once pristine shoes.

Wearing these things would only heighten my confidence, another thing that can't be seen in itself, but is attractive nonetheless. If I were more confident, maybe I had the strength to be nicer as well. Or might that I just set my mind to being a more agreeable person, I would for sure be a more attractive person for it. You know, hypothetically. This goes for all of us.

And that's important. There are really so many things about how liked we will be, how attractive we are as friends and partners, that are within our control. Such a shame then, that society and the media reduces our appeal as individuals into only a matter of the smoothness of our skin, the prices of our apparel and, uh, BMI. Things so out of our control.

The media, mostly thanks to feminism, has been awakening to this reality. The media challenges itself and it's projection of what constitutes beauty. It makes fair attempts at separating round from ugly, literally widening the image of what is good and beautiful. I've even seen articles about how we're supposed to change our ideas about what constitutes beauty to encompass stretch marks, pregnant bellies and, well, normal human things.

While I see how this is a valiant fight, I don't think it's the right fight. Ideal beauty is a changing thing, uncontrollably so. Maybe we could instead focus on reducing the importance of bodily beauty in attractiveness, and promote healthier ideals of appeal, other ways for us to feel good about ourselves. Much like the ruggedness of my wallet, stretch marks tell a story. Maybe we shouldn't feel so bad about that.

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