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What Exactly is Genuine "Beauty"?

What is it that makes somebody truly beautiful? It is a question that has been asked for centuries and analyzed in literature as well as poetry. Physical appearance probably has a great deal to do with it. Then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In fact, this theme is explored in a classic Twilight Zone episode about a woman who desperately undergoes surgery to make her look normal because her grotesque physical appearance has scared others all her life. The bandages come off and the operation turns out to be a complete failure! We are confused because the woman is drop-dead gorgeous like all the female movie stars we have come to cherish over the past century. The surrounding nurses and doctors all have pig snouts and curled lips. To them she is a freak of nature, however. Perhaps beauty means looking like everybody else should look or even a little bit better.

Feelings of shame still haunt me and wish I could have spoken to that silly young boy that used to be me going into tenth grade who refused to kiss his fellow camper during a game of Truth or Dare. I would tell that boy to not be such a jerk because he would be haunted by guilt for years to come. Another female camper stuck up for the woman and called me an obscenity that was rightfully deserved because I was being a jerk. A few years later perhaps I partially redeemed myself on a month-long teen tour to celebrate my graduation from high school. One of my other tour mates was making fun of a female camper when she was not around and claimed that she looks like a “wolf.” I jumped into her defense because she happened to be a kind person. I asked something along the lines of, “Who do you think you are? The GQ Cover Boy of the Year?” Then I added, “Anyway…you should only make fun of someone you think is unattractive if they are a really mean person.” Another female tour member said, “Wow! Your parents have taught you well.”

A lot of our messages and values are taught through movies, I believe. Has anyone ever seen the movie, “Shallow Hal?” I actually felt sympathy for Hal Larsen because his shallowness was the fault of a traumatic childhood experience and not who he was really meant to be. Tony Robbins who happens to be a real-life motivational guru puts him under a trance. Now he is conditioned to see the true beauty in all the women he meets if they are beautiful in the inside. Unlike other people, however, the inner beauty is now seen on the outside, too. He meets a woman who weighs over 300 pounds and falls madly in love with her because of her benevolent personality as well as the fact that she also looks like a supermodel on the outside. It is a nice message, and it is true that physical beauty makes a difference but it is hardly everything. A family member once told me about the models in the magazines and explained that “real” women do not look like that, and it is all air brushing…a fantasy. He added that even if I really did find a woman like that…she could end up being a real pain in the butt!

Here is another reason why emotional and personality beauty is more important than what we immediately see on the inside. I would probably have to be somewhat physically attracted to the woman that I eventually meet. But she would not be beautiful if she did not care about the environment. I could be married to Heidi Klum, and if she only used Styrofoam plates and cups due to being too lazy to wash dishes then I would get a divorce in two months as opposed to being an accomplice to poisoning the environment with toxic, non-biodegradable products forever. Physical beauty would also mean absolutely nothing if I were with a woman who did not care about the value of other people’s time. Actually, I would not even want to be friends with anyone who was like that all the time whether it was as a friend or romantic partner. Chances are in your seventy-plus years of life a person is going to be late once in a while. But there are some who turn tardiness into an art form and they are born without the ability to be considerate of other people’s time. Or even worse...if they decide they do not want to do something then they will bail out without even bothering to call because it is easiest for them. The woman I used to be in love with in a one-sided type of way suddenly turned ugly when she invited me to a Karate performance and did not show up. Then she refused to answer the phone calls I made trying to show what happened and whether she would be on her way. No matter what physical beauty lies at the surface…such qualities make a person hideous, and it is only a matter of time before the god/goddess-like beauty is rapidly chipped away from our naked eyes.

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