Beauty – Beyond the Ideal

Beauty and the Beast (1992 film)

What is considered beautiful? Why do we consider such things beautiful? And how can one obtain beauty? Wikipedia describes beauty as ” a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea, that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction” (Wikipedia 1). Moreover, “beauty is studied as a part of aesthetics, sociology, social psychology, and culture . . . [Because] beauty is a subjective experience, it is often said that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder'”(Wikipedia 1). Often, we look for the ideal beauty.

I think I have a love beautiful things, at least things I consider beautiful ( I being the beholder). There have been pieces of art I am in awe of,  architecture, and too many pieces of clothing and fashion, artful makeup, and some unique tattoos. Not to mention people – other women who just seem to have that elegant and graceful quality about them, certain tall men, with long eye lashes and full lips that I have swooned over, children beautiful in their cherubic way, soft and adorable little puppies and kittens, pink skylines, and orange sunsets, bright and shapely flowers and green nature, and most of all moments in time that just have that idyllic quality of beauty. There is also beauty that grows on you. Things that may be seemingly ugly at first, but turn out to be the most beautiful things of all. Songs on the radio ,for example, that hearing once you hate but hearing twenty-five times you love – the first song I have heard by Lady Antebellum affected me this way Love Don’t Live Here Anymore. People often have this effect, someone you do not consider very good-looking or friendly to begin with but upon discovering their great personality or wry sense of humor suddenly become attractive or seem like they would suddenly make a great friend.

Fairy tales for instance, often have this theme – the entire story of Beauty and the Beast carries out this theme as Belle learns to love a hideous bad-tempered beast which breaks the spell, and turns him into a handsome prince. Or Cinderella a maid who becomes a beautiful princess at the stroke of a fairy godmother’s wand. If we wish to continue on this them of beauty being where once ugliness was, we can look at Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice who at first seems high-handed and snobbish to Elizabeth Bennet,  but eventually becomes her beloved husband. Or an even better example in Jane Eyre where both Jane and Mr. Rochester are plain people who end up loving each other despite their ugly qualities. Yes, beauty is truly in “eye of the beholder” (Wikipedia 1).

When I really think of beauty though, I consider all the  models in the fashion magazine’s who are stick thin and considered the ideal beautiful when really 3/4 of the population is not a size zero. I am a firm believer that women in every shape and size can be beautiful even those models, but not only and not as an ideal. Fashion should demonstrate clothing and makeup on a variety of models of shapes, sizes, and heights. Glamour magazine is one magazine that is excellent at showing models of different shapes and sizes. I was pleasantly surprised a few years back to find an article and layout of models who had bellies and curves. I wonder though, why the rest of the fashion world does not catch on, or at least not in a big way. We should endeavour to find beauty in all shapes and sizes of people and even things. If we can understand what’s beautiful to one person and why, we have come along way to bridging the gap between ideal beauty and beauty in the real world. So I hope you can find beauty in everything in around you from the ugliest creature to the most heavenly thing. Consider that, people in particular cannot always be beautiful, that we have good days and bad days and that other people have valid opinions of beauty, not only your own opinions are valid. Beauty maybe in the eye of the beholder, but it is also all around us if we will only look.

Lizzie Miller