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Beauty – A Blessing Or Characteristic

It  has  been  wisely  observed  that  “philosophy  bakes  no  bread.”  It has,  with  equal  wisdom,  been  also observed that “without a philosophy no  bread  is  baked.”  Let  me  talk to  you,  then  of  philosophy—my philosophy concerning beauty—and, in  a  broader  sense,  my  philosophy regarding human traits in general.
Sometime  ago  I  overheard someone  saying,  in  the  world,  for  a female to have good looks is to have everything.  Because  when  a  female possesses  good  looks,  she  will  be secure  from  all  insecurities  and  all sorts of miseries will be tales told in stories…

This is one view, a view held by a significant number of people. But it is not the only view.  In my opinion it is not  the  correct  view.  What is beauty? Is it the core of a “female’s being”?    No  one  is  likely  to  disagree  with me if I say that beauty, first of all, is a characteristic. Yes, there are inherited characteristics—those that we  are born  with—  as  well  as  acquired characteristics—those that we attain during the course of our lives.
But  some  will  disagree  when  I go  on  to  say  that  beauty  is  only  a characteristic.  It is  nothing  more or  less  than  that.  It is  nothing  more special,  more  blessing  than  that suggests.  When  we  understand  the nature  of  beauty  as  a  characteristic like  hundreds  of  others  with  which each of us must live—we shall better understand what it really means and how to deal with it.

By definition  a  characteristic—any characteristic—is a limitation. A white house, for example, is a limited house;  it  cannot  be  green  or  blue or  red;  it  is  limited  to  being  white. Likewise  every  characteristic—those we regard as strengths as well as those we regard as weaknesses—is  a  limitation.  Each  one  freezes  us to  some  extent  into  a  mold;  each restricts  to  some  degree  the  range of possibility, of flexibility, and very often of opportunity as well.
Beaut is such a  limitation.  Are beautiful women less limited than others?
Though,  like  any  other characteristics,  beauty  offers  some compensation  for  its  restrictions, it  painfully  remains  a  limitation. In  fact,  at  times  more  limiting  than others. Again,  a  common  quality  of all characteristics.

Let us make a simple comparison. Take a beautiful girl with an average mind  (something  not  too  hard  to locate);  take  a  homely  girl  with a  superior  mind  (something  not impossible to find)–and then make all  the  other  characteristics  of  these two persons equal (something which certainly is impossible). Now which of the two is more limited?
It  depends,  of  course,  entirely  on what  you  wish  them  to  do.  If  you asked  them  to catwalk  in  a  fashion show,  then  the  plain  girl  is  more limited–that is, she is “handicapped”. On the other hand, if you are seeking someone to teach history, science, or to figure out some problems, then the beautiful girl will be more limited–that is, “handicapped”.

Many  human  characteristics  are obvious  limitations;  others  are  not so  obvious.  Poverty (the  lack  of material  means)  is  one  of  the  most obvious.  Ignorance  (the  lack  of knowledge or education) is another. Old age (the lack of youth and vigor) is yet another. Blindness (the lack of eyesight) is still another. In all these cases the limitations are apparent, or seem to be. But let us look at some other common characteristics which do not seem limiting. Take the very opposite of poverty—that is, wealth. Is wealth limiting? Indeed, it  is,  for  rich  people  are deprived  of  a  simple,  easy-going life. They are compelled to keep up with  unending  social  expectations to maintain their status and prestige. As  they  are  thought  of  as  special, their  individual  lives  are  narrowly scrutinized.  This  restricts  their personal freedoms. The wealthy are also more likely to suffer from stress owing to lack of true happiness which is  based  on  love,  trust,  friendship (which  cannot  be  bought  through money). This is because most of those who  crowd  the  rich  are  frequently driven by selfish motives like the hope  for  being  tipped  with  money, material  things  etc.  Consequently, wealthy people find it hard to obtain “friends in need”. The fact that rich people often get their way in matters makes  them  to  lose  their  creativity and endurance as well.

Let us take another unlikely handicap—not that of ignorance, but its exact opposite. Can it be said that education is ever a handicap?  The answer is definitely yes. For example, which one would have served better in a  primary  school  library  from  a college graduate with a B.A and one with high school Diploma? I believe the high school graduate would have performed better. Because he would take the job joyfully and he probably would have  stayed  at  the  same  job for  a  long  period  of  time  believing that it was the right position for him. As  for  the  college  graduate  with  a B.A,  he  will  stay  for  some  time  till he  gets  a  better  offer  and  even  then he  would  feel  that  the  job  was  too inferior.  We have  a  bureaucratic term for such case—over-qualified. It appears even the over-qualified could be handicapped.

But  let  me  return  to  my  main subject, beauty. How does it impose limitation?

Throughout the human race, there is the notion of (even unconsciously): “If  you  can’t  have  then  befriend someone  who  has.”  Consequently, people  desiring  certain  qualities and  things  which  they  lack  try  to compensate  by  getting  closer  to those  who  possess.  Another  reality is,  people  view  that  which  looks attractive  to  the  eyes,  that  sounds wonderful  to  the  ears,  that  smells sweet  to  the  nose,  and  feels  good to  touch  as  inherently  good—something  to  be  yearned  and  to  be owned if possible. In so doing, they neglect  that  there  are  side-effects  to everything.

Beauty is valued in  all  human cultures.  Accordingly, people endeavor to acquire the best structure, coloring, posture-whatever in their capacity  to  look  impressive  and attractive. Even feeling that it would add  up  to  their  image  try  endlessly to  win  those  who  look  attractive especially  from  the  opposite  sex. Boys  flock  toward  beautiful  girls and girls on their part flirt and try to charm handsome guys…

Those  beauties  and  handsomers, often  enough,  get  puffed  up  by  the attention  and  delicacies  bestowed on  them  by  their  admirers.  They, too,  forget  that  beauty  is  only  one characteristic and that it can’t perfect and complete a person on its own—become snared by their resource.

At first, it may look all glamorous and  heavenly.  But  then,  when realization  dawns  on  the  beauties who  are  being  hunted  that  it  is  not really  that  they  are  loved  or  liked as  human  beings  but  that  it  is  they are a means to an end, tears flow, hearts  broke  and  joy  becomes misery. Beauty, instead of a blessing, becomes a handicap.
If  people  associate  with  a  female for  her  beauty  without  considering what  she  may  be  in  her  mental capacity  and  spiritual  gifts,  how could  we  say  it  is  a  blessing? After all, isn’t it what differs human beings from  animals  their  ability  to  think and reason? Nor am I arguing that beauty is a curse. No, not at all. What I am saying is that it is simply a characteristic like the many others with which we have to live, sometimes advantageous and at other times a limitation. Before I bring this article to an end, I would like to point out the leveling effects  scientific  developments are  inducing  in  putting  people  of unattractive appearance on the same footing as those that are endowed with natural aesthetics. In fact, Jerome K. Jerome, in his essay “Should Women be  Beautiful?”  expresses  the  view that  it  is  likely  that  there  will  be  no more  pretty  women  in  the  years  to come.  The  reason  is  simple.  In  the future, it seems there will be no plain girls against which to contrast them. Thanks  to  ever-growing technological  and  scientific advances,  when  the  plain  girl submits  to  a  course  of  treatment, which  includes  a  combination  of lotions  and  cosmetic  surgery,  she is  bound  to  burst  upon  Society  an acknowledged beauty not long after. The  maiden  has  only  to  proceed to  choose  the  style  of  beauty  she prefers. Will she be a Juno, a Venus, or  a  Helen?  Will  she  have  a  small, sloping nose, or one tip-tilted like the petal  of  a  rose?  Let  her  try  the  tip-tilted style first. The specialist has an idea it is going to be fashionable. If afterwards she does not like it, there will be time to try the small, sloping version. It is difficult to decide these points without experiment.

Depending on whether she would like  to  look  the  original  intelligent type, or the common meek sort, she can  go  either  for  a  high  or  a  low forehead.  Fanciful  eyes  with  depth and  passion  will  not  be  hard  to manufacture with sufficient financial investment. The hair can be made to look curly or straight with a diligent adherence  to  the  prescription. Eyebrows  and  eyelashes  to  match the hair; can be achieved by neatness combined with taste. A dimpled chin, or  a  square-cut  jaw,  in  accordance with  the  demand,  can  be  brought about  under  the  guidance  of  the expert. As  to  the  shape  of  the  mouth,  a lady may opt for a firm, sweet one, or a rosebud looking one. Complexion is perhaps the most durable of all the personal changes when applied with some  patience.  In  consultation  with the dress maker, the figure, too, can be  made  lithe  and  supple.  Never  be bothered with stoutness or thinness. It  can  be  adjusted  to  the  desired thickness.  Age,  apparently,  makes no difference. A woman, after all, is as old as she looks. It is likely that all women will look five and twenty not far  in  the  future.  Color  of  the  hair? Unless  one  clings  to  grey  hair,  one can obtain without great difficulty a rich wavy-brown, or a delicate shade of gold hair by strictly following the tricks offered in the market.

All signs read the same: “soon there  will  be  no  need  for  a  young man  to  look  about  him  for  a  good-looking  girl  to  be  his  wife.” All he will need to do; shall be to take the nearest  girl,  and  tell  her  his  ideal. Then if she really cares for him, she will go to the shop and have herself fixed up to his pattern. Girls might  even  have  the  upper hand  in  mate  selection.  When  the maiden  of  the  future  thinks  that Yacob  is  the  one  for  her,  gently, coyly,  she  will  draw  from  him  his ideal of what a woman should be. In from  six  months  to  a  year  she  will burst  upon  him,  the  perfect  She; height,  size,  weight,  right  to  a  T. And what choice will he have, but to clasp her in his arms. And if he does not change his mind, and the bottles do not begin to lose their effect, there will be every chance that they will be happy ever afterwards. Might not Science go even further? Why rest satisfied with making a world  of  merely  beautiful  women? Cannot  Science,  while  she  is  about it,  make  them  all  good  at  the  same time? Jerome K. Jerome pleads: Science  should  proceed  still further,  and  make  women  all  as beautiful  in  mind  as  she  is  now able to make them in body. May we not  live  to  see  in  the  advertisement columns  of  the  ladies’  magazines of the future the portrait of a young girl  sulking  in  a  corner—“Before taking  the  lotion!”  The  same  girl dancing  among  her  little  brothers and  sisters,  shedding  sunlight through the home—“After the three first bottles!” May we not have the Caudle Mixture: One tablespoonful at bed-time guaranteed to make the lady  murmur,  “Good-night,  dear; hope  you’ll  sleep  well,”  and  at once  to  fall  asleep,  her  lips  parted in a smile? Maybe some specialist of  the  future  will  advertise  Mind Massage:  “Warranted  to  remove from  the  most  obstinate  subject all  traces  of  hatred,  envy,  and malice.
”As  I  read  these  lines,  I  couldn’t help  murmuring  “amen!”  Only, that  science  would  also  extend its  beneficence  to  men  as  well. Although  society  seems  not  to bother  much  with  the  outward appearance  of  men,  surely  men could  do  with  some  inward improvement! Perhaps, some more kindness,  gentleness,  sensitivity, understanding, good-will…will go some way toward perfecting them.


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