Friday, February 15, 2008

On Beauty- part 1

"Aristotle called beauty "the gift of God;",
Socrates called it "a short-lived tyranny;"
Theophrastus, "a silent deceit;"
Theocritus, "an ivory mischief;"
Carneades, "a sovereignty which stood in need of no guards."

The beauty that addresses itself to the eyes is only the spell of the moment; the eye of the body is not always that of the soul."

~ George Sand~

Beauty, in my experience, is both a blessing and a curse. Undeniably, beauty opens a lot of doors (literally and otherwise) but it can also provide obstacles that are difficult to overcome. The emphasis on physical beauty is all around us: movies, TV, magazines. We are bombarded with photoshopped images of "perfection." We are told that looking a certain way will bring us happiness and...most importantly, love. If only it were actually that simple. Beauty comes with its own Pandora's box that once opened can be hard to close.
Vanity, for instance, is an easy trap to fall into. I've seen this all too often in my experience: really pretty girls that relied only on their looks to get what they want while existing as empty shells, lacking all thought and substance. They are like glossy magazines- fun to look at but devoid of content. The attention lavished on a beautiful person serves only as reinforcement for that person's behavior, whether that behavior is good or bad and again puts good looks on a higher pedestal than actions.

For someone who's had to deal with both sides of the beauty coin it's easy to see how much bullshit this is. I also credit my awkward years as a chubby child and gawky teen (my nickname was "Flagpole") with developing a personality so that I ended up not being a total douchebag as an adult. For me, it was like winning the genetic lottery and having those winnings put into a trust fund that was unavailable until I turned 18. I had to live most of my life as a taller-than-average, clumsy looking kid with a fat head (tho I was fucking cute as a toddler, as far as I can tell from pictures.) Most importantly, I had to deal with my physical awkwardness during my formative years. Sarcasm was the main weapon in my arsenal, and it still is. I also got to fill my not-so-pretty head with books, music, and art...things that I wouldn't have had too much time for if those grade school boys were all over me.

What's strange is how differently people, especially those of the opposite sex, treat you. Once my Eastern European genes kicked in, boys started to notice me. Even though I had a boyfriend, it didn't stop others from flirting with me all the time. Was I really a different person? Nope, I was still me. My personality hadn't changed at all, I was just packaged slightly differently. I became an object of desire, not because of my personality, but because of my looks. And that's something I had to deal with eversince. Yeah, some people might think "Oh, this poor girl...she's so wanted, why should I feel sorry for her?" But it's not that simple. When you're aware that people are fixated on your looks it really casts a doubt on yourself and makes you wonder if that's really all you have to offer. It's ironic that something so prized, beauty, can actually make your life lonelier. I suppose that this wouldn't happen with a less self-aware person but when physical attractiveness is not a top priority in life it can be an issue that you have to wrestle with everyday. I'm not saying that I'd rather be unattractive...damn, it's better to be attractive than not, what I'm saying is that attractiveness adds a whole other layer of complication in a thinking person's life. Intelligence and beauty are not two things that are associated too often but when they co-exist (and they do, more than people like to think) it provides for an interesting conundrum. Most people see beauty, not intelligence. That's why I have to work harder to make my intelligence shine through. Of course, if people can't see that, then they're probably not worth my time anyway. Still, it'd be nice for people's jaws not to fucking drop when I mention that I was a Chemistry major and a Math minor. Yeah, pretty girls are smart too, who the fuck knew?

Coming soon...Part 2 of a riveting series of 2 (so far, but I might add more)

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