T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 1207
posted 04-17-2006 10:33 PM
We talk a lot here about self esteem and body image, and it's sad to say, a lot of young teens here do not have positive self esteem or a healthy body image. It comes across in the questions we answer and the comments we get from other users.
(This is a little bit of a spinoff from Beppie's thread here. I think it's important though, and worth looking at in a different light.) We know what 'society' thinks of beauty, but i want to know what YOU think of beauty. In your opinion, what makes a person beautiful? Can you tell if a person is beautiful or not before you talk to them/know them? If you were a mentor for a younger boy/girl, what would you tell them to strive for, in their attempts at becoming a 'beautiful person'? Is it even important? Why or why not? Ready ... Set ... Discuss! (And remember, our goal here is a healthy body image and self esteem. It is okay if you currently do not necessarily have this; we're here to help. List ways in which you are helping yourself attain a healthy body image. Try to limit the negativity, if you can. And as always, ragging on other users [even indirectly], is not okay here.)
Member # 94
posted 04-18-2006 03:30 AM
I think it's impossible for me to disengage what I think is beautiful from society, because that is the context in which I understand beauty, even when my personal ideals of what "beautiful" is differs from mainstream notions. I'd be lying if I said I didn't perceive physical beauty in some way-- I do, and generally the people that I perceive as physically beautiful are a pretty diverse lot.
However, the whole physical beauty thing to me is very much subordinate to what one would call beauty of character. A person who behaves in an aborrent way will appear physically abohorrent to me no matter what their appaerance-- this is really the only time that I perceive people as "ugly". Likewise, I will perceive someone as physically attractive if their personality is attractive to me. Perceiving beauty in myself is a different thing. For one thing, I am the only person who has access to all of my ugly thoughts. Furthermore, I guess I just perceive my own worth socially as being more frequently judged on my appearance, even though I personally attempt to reject those standards. Not my friends (who are after all the most important people), but people in general DO treat me differently-- more positively-- when I attempt to conform to mainstream beauty standards. Therefore, it is very easy to fall into the trap of judging myself based on these standards (though I'm getting better at not doing so all the time).
Member # 27276
posted 04-18-2006 04:12 AM
I think it's not so much that society has this rigid standard for beauty, but the beauty they hawk around and shove down our throats in the media and such is highly sexualized. There's a difference (at least for me) in enjoying looking at someone who's beautiful and being sexually aroused by someone who's beautiful. So it seems to me that society isn't trying to sell us beauty it's trying to sell us sex. It seems like people will assume when you say someone is beautiful that means you would want to have sex with them, which is a shame, because most often that's not the case at all.
For example, I had a class with a guy whom at first glance I thought was very physically unattractive. His face was slightly dispropportionate and shaped oddly as was his body, which society would definitely not call strong and muscular. But when I got to know him better the first thing I realized was what an incredible voice he had. It was very calm, soothing and intelligent and he had an insightful way of critiquing other people's work that brought things to mind that normally the rest of us might not have thought about. I remember one conversation with him when we went on sort of a field trip to a cafe to draw the layout on location. It was a fascinating conversation. .he talked about the nature of art and how odd it is that we are able to form the pictures of our surroundings in our mind and at the same time be able to record them down on paper. "When you think about it, it really is mysterious," he said. When that class ended I realized that I was really going to miss him. I think all of that to me is beauty. It can also go the opposite way, too. If a man who may be physically attractive to me showed by his behavior that he was racist, mysoginistic, abusive, or in any other way narrowminded. . he just changes in my mind's eye. I don't really know how to explain it, but it's like I can actually see his outward atractiveness physically transforming into something hideous and even looking at such a person repulses me.
Member # 94
posted 04-18-2006 05:14 AM
quote: Originally posted by Gwaihir: I think it's not so much that society has this rigid standard for beauty, but the beauty they hawk around and shove down our throats in the media and such is highly sexualized. There's a difference (at least for me) in enjoying looking at someone who's beautiful and being sexually aroused by someone who's beautiful. So it seems to me that society isn't trying to sell us beauty it's trying to sell us sex. It seems like people will assume when you say someone is beautiful that means you would want to have sex with them, which is a shame, because most often that's not the case at all. That is a totally astute observation-- very insightful.
Member # 28288
posted 04-18-2006 06:50 AM
In your opinion, what makes a person beautiful? In my opinion, what makes a person beautiful is more often the inner qualities they have inside rather than their outward appearance. I know so many friends who don't look particularly pretty, even in a general way, yet once I got to know them I discovered their wonderful personalities and wanted to be just like them. One friend was a person who genuinely cared about other people, always tried her best to cheer other people up and always had a kind word to put in. Another friend had a warm, friendly personality. Both these people had real sympathy for others and always had a smile on their faces. These are two of the most beautiful girls in my mind even though they're not glamorous or anything. A lot of the time we might hear ourselves think, I want to be like a certain movie star, I wish I had her hair, her nose, etc. Even if I do have these thoughts and do want look a bit more like them sometimes, I realise that these envious thoughts don't last long, and they on changing, whereas thoughts of being like the two people I mentioned are far more prominent in my mind. On the other hand, I simple detest people who deliberately change their looks to fit the requirements for being "beautiful" when all they have is an empty shell with nothing good to fill it in. So my definition of beauty is definitely the qualities that come from within. Can you tell if a person is beautiful or not before you talk to them/know them? If you were a mentor for a younger boy/girl, what would you tell them to strive for, in their attempts at becoming a 'beautiful person'? I'm not going to say first impressions aren't important -- they are, because looking presentable shows people you care about yourself. It doesn't matter if you don't look a thing like super models, just wearing a smile can change your whole face. Caring about your looks also means that you love yourself, which I think is important, not to mention a confidence booster. But if I were to advice on someone younger on their attempts to be "beautiful", I'd tell them to work on their personality, their compassion for others and the way they interact with other people. Ultimately people care more for the words and actions they hear and see from you than how you look. So to be a beautiful person is to refine your character, which would shine far more than any perfect face. [ 04-18-2006, 06:57 AM: Message edited by: mslutzy ]
Member # 28009
posted 04-18-2006 09:30 PM
This is a good question. Sadly I was one of those people who came here with self steem issues because of my body. But since coming here and reading what you all have to say, that is starting to change! Being 14 and flat with no hips, i have never felt beautiful. When the boys ignore me at school, it is too easy to get down on myself. They do not take the time to get to know me. I have to remind myself that they are immature at this age ... they do get better later ... right? Anyways I am slowly learning to love myself.
Back to the original question. I guess true beauty is embracing yourself for who you are and striving to be the best person you can be. And being confident in your identity. Like I mentioned before, I am still working on this!
Member # 27531
posted 04-19-2006 01:14 AM
Beauty to me:
The Three Graces from Sandro Botticelli's "La Primavera". http://www.artchive.com/artchive/B/botticelli/primavera.jpg.html The way the fabric flows between them, their flowing hair, the interaction of their glances at each other, their pure, flushed, expressions, and the way their fingers interlock, forming this lovely circle between them. It's just so NATURAL. I can't really explain the feeling I have when I see this segment of the painting, but somehow the only way I can classify it is "beautiful". I think that beauty in a person should be similar. It should just be natural. Whether it be in their smile, in their words, in their actions, in their personality, or in the way they interact with others, beauty should be very natural. Beauty lies within. I think that all of our true beauty can be revealed through revealing OURSELVES. [ 04-19-2006, 01:25 AM: Message edited by: StarHallie ]
Member # 25983
posted 04-19-2006 01:20 AM
To me, real beauty is the ability to see the beauty in the world. I can't tell you how many people I've met, while far from the mainstream ideal of beauty, are really the loveliest people in the world. Likewise, lots of people who conform to and "live" the ideal of beauty are sometimes unkind and unaccepting of people less glamourous.
In my opinion, you can't gauge the beauty of a person before getting to know them. First impressions are good; as another user mentioned, taking pride in your appearance does display love and acceptance of yourself. I myself wasn't impressed with the physical appearance of past romances and friends at first, but grew to recognize their true beauty after speaking. I would tell a child to love and be proud of themselves and their body, to respect people of all appearances, and empathy and compassion. Oh, and as cliche as it may sound, that beautiful gifts don't always come wrapped pretty. Or something to that effect.
Member # 25983
posted 04-19-2006 01:26 AM
Oh my goodness, StarHallie! That painting is so lovely. I almost find myself with tears in my eyes comparing THAT standard of beauty with the modern standard. It seems they preferred healthy, happy women. Strange concept.
Beauty lies within. I think that all of our true beauty can be revealed through revealing OURSELVES. I couldn't agree more! Well said!
Member # 27531
posted 04-19-2006 01:37 AM
Thanks Lauren :-)
Yes, during the 1400s, "Healthy" was a bit more vulumptous than the term implies today. It was a sign of wealth and living well. Men generally were attracted to "healthy" looking women. And, in point of fact, generally still are. Although it's a broad generalization, and a pretty specific school of thought... according to evolutionary philosophy, it is simply a "survival of the fittest"-type concept that leads most men to view an ample waist-to-hip ratio as attractive. Broader hips on a woman signifies a higher fertility rate. Although, modern concepts of beauty may be working to change this otherwise "natural" human preference. That's kind of a tangent though. :-) Thanks for the kudos, and kudos to you. Your post really spoke to me.
Member # 11352
posted 04-22-2006 04:02 PM
In your opinion, what makes a person beautiful?
Being truly yourself is what makes a person beautiful both on the inside and the outside. Truly natural. Not changinng yourself for anyone. Loving yourself for who you are, and always. Personality, beliefs, and etc defines beauty along with the physical elements of a person. I found my husband-to-be to be beautiful for just by the way he is. I fell in love for who he was, not so much of what he looked like physically. He is so amazing for what he does, for what he believes in, and so much me. Can you tell if a person is beautiful or not before you talk to them/know them? If you were a mentor for a younger boy/girl, what would you tell them to strive for, in their attempts at becoming a 'beautiful person'? Not 100 percent. We all know we can be attracted to this person physically before we even know them. First impressions are good, but they aren't totally the most important. The more you know them and spend time with them, the more beauty they reveal to you. When I started dating my partner, he was overweight and I couldn't care less. I walked down the streets holding his hands, and being so lovingly. I didn't care what people thought of him. I love him for who he is as a person. He's so beautiful and i showed him to bring that out in several ways, and he becomes more and more beauitful everyday to others. We've been together for just nearly five years. If I were to be a mentor to someone else younger, I would say. Always be yourself. Believe in what you want to believe in. Express the way you are comfortable with. Be positive about life, and don't change for anyone. All those things will lead to being a more of a "beautiful" person.
Member # 28218
posted 04-22-2006 06:13 PM
You know -sorry to rain on the parade, but I'm just not sure I feel there is a good way to answer this question. I think the problem comes in trying to define beauty. Grant, I think narrow definitions are the worst. But to be honest, most people have some sense of physical atrraction, and that is influenced majorly by culture and also is somewhat subjective.
I mean you can SAY being healthy is beautiful. But is this really fair to people who have diseases or immune-system failure they really have no control over? You can say beauty is in the way a person carries themself or personality -but some people are just awkward or their personality might just not suit you. I think any sort of definition for beauty requires being exclusionary. I can find beauty in many different places -I try to appreciate the intricacies in life as much as the next idealistic person. But honestly, I know when I see someone who is very physically attractive in the mainstream sense -like a number of movie-stars, I have a sexual attraction. I don't think there's much we can do about that, those of us who have those reactions. And I think each person should try to find beauty all around them in day-to-day life; I don't doubt it would be better to show a greater diversity of real people in the media. But I don't see how much is gained by simply trying to define beauty in concrete terms, even those as seemingly-benign as ''friendly'' or ''healthy.'' [ 04-22-2006, 06:17 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]
Member # 3
posted 04-23-2006 11:57 AM
Okay, but you'bve just made a pretty specific defintion yourself, in making a point that, to you, beauty is related to sexual attraction.
Member # 3
posted 04-23-2006 12:05 PM
Before I head off to make breakfast, wanted to add my thoughts here, too. Nice topic, Smurf!
Being a visual artist and photographer, primarily in portraiture, tends to (I've noticed) really influence my ideas about beauty and about what I find beautiful. For instance, I so, so prefer having older photo subjects -- the older the better -- to younger ones, because older people's faces and bodies, over time, basically become what their lives have been: all their scars, wrinkles, lines, stretch marks tell me, visually, and whomever sees my work, a lot about their lives that a younger person's face often can't tell as well. So, in many ways, I'm culturally backwards, in that often, I will find more beauty in an older person than one who is very young. (Don't even get me started on very elderly people's faces and hands: I seriously end up awed. Which also isn't to say I don't see or find beauty in young people, I do, but it's a very different sort, and if forced to quantify more/less per beauty, generally, I'd have to say that older people, or even just younger people who have had some challenges, I tend to perceive as having greater beauty.) Point is, that for me, the older I get especially, the less and less beauty has anything to do with my own sexual attraction or anyone else's. The older I get, the beauty I find in a fern or a jellyfish or water over a stone becomes less distinguishable from the beauty I find in a person, when we're talking about the visual. The older I get, even defining beauty as visual becomes more and more difficult, because my visual sense and aesthetics are so tied up in my values, in the way I see and experience the world, in movement, in sounds, in relationships, what have you.
Member # 28218
posted 04-23-2006 12:46 PM
Well, my real point was not that beauty has to be related to sexual attraction. My point was that sexual attraction IS triggered by specific ideas of beauty for almost everyone, and I don't think any of us here can change that. (Please let me know though, if there is anyone here who wouldn't go gaga over a handful of specific actors).
There are also plenty of ideas of beauty I don't associate with sexual attraction, that to me just make life more interesting. And those ideas for me tend to be much less limited. That is the type of beauty for which I don't care to have a universal definitions for, b/c any definition would be limiting. With attraction some have said ''either you feel it or you don't.'' Not so with a more laidback appreciative sense of beauty. I know I find Heath Ledger, Salma Hayek, and a couple dozen other real people and actors very attractive and since I like to look at them I consider that a type of beauty as well. I don't think denying that that sort of sexual attraction to mainstream beauty ideals exists is a sensible option. And interesting idea though, is I have some friends who are international students. A few of them have said that back home, unlike the US, there is not a pressure to compliment everyone physically all the time. Like according to one girl's perception of her home culture in Ethiopia, if someone there reflects their cultural beauty ideals you say she's pretty, and if you don't think she's really pretty you just don't say anything. And people might not be happy that they aren't considered very pretty to others, but also it is not something people become depressed about. It just is. So I guess my collective points were: A) if you're talking beauty in terms of sexual attraction, I think cultural ideals have a big influence and I don't think there's much that can be done to change that. B) I think enjoying diversity and complications in all aspects of life is another sort of beauty, and I don't like defining non-sexual beauty in any sort of universal sense because that means being exclusionary C) I don't think any of this would really matter so much if people didn't base so much of their self-esteem on beauty, and expect that life was just going to be wonderful for them all the time. Billions of people all over the world are not 100% content with their life, but westerners are sort of notorious for navel-gazing and depression (perhaps related?). Maybe the truth isn't that it's all okay. Maybe the truth is just that we need to stop thinking about what we don't like in our life and what other people have that we don't, and focus on the world around us. It's just an idea. I mean, I'm someoe who's gone back and forth and all-around this issue in my life. I'm never going to have the odds of getting laid by whoever I want as does Angelina Jolie. And as a 20 yr-old that sucks. But there're still a lot of really enjoyable, interesting and could-be-called beautiful components to my life. So I just try to focus on the things I DO have control over and spend my energy thinking about them.
Member # 3
posted 04-23-2006 01:26 PM
quote: My point was that sexual attraction IS triggered by specific ideas of beauty for almost everyone, and I don't think any of us here can change that. Actually, that stands somewhat counter to pretty much all theory in sexology.
In other words, being turned on by someone/something is NOT by any means just visual or just about beauty: it's multi-sensory, for starters, isn't always about people, per se, and has a lot to do with experiental factors. Visual aesthetics and what is beautiful to any given person is just one factor of MANY. And I don't see that the question posited WAS about sexual attraction (in fact, it didn't seem to be asking anything about that), nor do I think you can earnestly divide beauty as a whole into sexual and non-sexual. Sexuality sure isn't that simple, and neither are concepts of beauty.
Member # 3
posted 04-23-2006 01:36 PM
(To add an anecdote to that, one really interesting way to find out how a lot of that works is to go out on a date with someone who, aesthetically and sexually, from a photograph, you think is drop-dead, and who turns you on visually.
...and then, to discover that, when you meet them, even when they're fabulous, even if they think you're also beautiful/hot/whatevah, even if everything else is in place, when you go to kiss them? There is NO chemistry between you. Again, this is a slight topic veer, and I'd really like to go back to the initial topic which was NOT about sexual attraction, but the point is, the idea that sexual attraction is primarily about the visual, or primarily about physical beauty is false, in both practical experience and pretty much all broad study we've got on sexuality. For some, that may be a more primary driver than others, but it's actually quite rare for that to be the ONLY driver, or even for it to dominate sexual attraction and response. I'd be willing to bet that, actually, in those we do see where that is a sole or primary driver, we're looking at someone exceptionally media-saturated, whose sexual life is more centered around fantasy/media than around real interpersonal interaction, because we do start to see the isolated visual/the two-dimensional becoming a greater driver, for instance, in people who use visual pornography very extensively.) ...and with that, I'm off with my dog and my partner to go to the Farmer's Market, where beauty abounds! I worked summers for almost nine years doing markets, and they're a cornucopia of beauty. Gorgeous plants and vegetables, the growers who spend all day tending to their plants and beam with pride when you dlight in something they've grown, everyone all still a bit sleepy-headed but getting all caught up in all their senses, planning beautiful meals in their heads, milling about happy in the morning sun. [ 04-23-2006, 01:38 PM: Message edited by: Miz Scarlet ]
Member # 28218
posted 04-23-2006 01:48 PM
Visual is A component of attraction. A vary large component in humans. And I know the question wasn't about attraction, it was about beauty. But for me and for many other people what attracts them is one definition of beautiful, though they may have some other definitions as well.
And I don't recall saying anything about visual being the only component of beauty. But still, there are some visual characteristics that most people seem to agree are attractive-beautiful. Sexual vs. non-sexual? I don't know about that so much. I'm sure it can overlap sometimes. But there are certain visual characteristics most people tend to find attractive-beautiful, and other more-encompassing concepts of beauty tend to be more abstract. So I think you're less likely to find an inanimate object, for instance, or an old person, that most people will agree on being especially beautiful. And that's fine, because I think the most positive message is that there are many definitions of beauty. I'm just not sure that helps the fact that a lot of teenagers care a great deal about attraction in particular. I think it's important to note this since the thread was started hoping to counter body-image issues. I'm just not sure you can counter body-image issues by focusing on more abstract ideas of beauty, b/c I think the only reason body-image matters to a lot of people is for reasons of attraction. So I WAS intending to address the OP. [ 04-23-2006, 02:17 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]
Member # 28218
posted 04-23-2006 02:14 PM
Here's the definition of beauty according to dictionary.com: ''The quality that gives pleasure to the mind or senses.'' So I think I was using it pretty much in the right context. I think what one finds attractive would be a sort of beauty.
(Per your anecdote Miz S, I'm not sure if a kiss is the best way to gauge chemistry either. I mean, even with the same person, sometimes kissing feels great and sometimes it doesn't. And for me at least that has more to do with the way the person kisses than whether I even know them and like them.) According to that definition of beauty, you could think people are beautiful in some ways, or not, before you talk to them, and beautiful in other ways, or not, after you talk to them. If I was mentoring a child I would advise them to try and be happy and to make other people happy. This is my personal philosophy anyway, and is about the only way to not exclude anything that could be considered beautiful to someone (unless you're one of those people who take pleasure from being unhappy, at which point things do get more complicated). [ 04-23-2006, 02:19 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]
Member # 8067
posted 04-23-2006 02:34 PM
Please let me know though, if there is anyone here who wouldn't go gaga over a handful of specific actors *raises hand* Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie et. al. ... pretty much without exception, they do nothing for me. Conventional "Hollywood" good looks do not turn my crank when it comes to sexual attraction. As an ideal, it just strikes me as ... boring. Individuals can "compensate" in my eyes if they happen to be gifted with quirky personalities and brains (looks being far, far from the only factor in what attracts me to people). But since I don't know any of these people, that's not a factor here. So even when it comes to sexual attraction (and the purely physical, visual element of that - which is only one among many), I think people's response are a whole lot more diverse and less conventional than you give them credit for.
Member # 28218
posted 04-23-2006 02:58 PM
Well as far as that last bit: ''I think people's response are a whole lot more diverse and less conventional than you give them credit for.'' There's this study I found a few months ago on visual attractiveness in our culture:
http://www.uni-regensburg.de/Fakultaeten/phil_Fak_II/Psychologie/Psy_II/beautycheck/english/zusammen/zusammen1.htm It's pretty interesting and disturbing in equal parts. Among other things it found that when you average male facial proportions and average female facial proportions there is not much difference between the two (contrary to what culture would have us believe), AND that test subjects ranked women's faces most beautiful when they had been morphed to look around the shape of average 14 yr-old girls. (Personally, for the record, I appreciate all manners of quirky personalities and brains. But when it comes to what turns me on, I tend to like a lot of real people who look ever-so-slightly off conventional beauty ideals. And the survey indicates most people ARE influenced by such standards, as does the fact that people who meet those standards get significantly more dates at the schools I've been at and many people of both genders say "they're hot." I even tried seeing someone who charmed me in most ways but visually. Did NOT work at all.) Again, I'm not saying these things are good. I'm just not sure anything is gained by pretending cultural ideals don't sway people's interactions if in fact they do, when trying to counter body-image problems. [ 04-23-2006, 03:04 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]
Member # 8067
posted 04-23-2006 03:27 PM
I think cultural ideals certainly shape people's interactions in lots of ways - especially when it comes to who's publicly seen as "desirable" in very status-conscious, media-influenced environments like high school, and what many people in the West will publicly rate as "beautiful" if they're asked to sort photos.
But: if you're talking beauty in terms of sexual attraction, I think cultural ideals have a big influence and I don't think there's much that can be done to change that. I really don't think that cultural ideals are the immovable monolith you seem to imagine. For a start, as I've pointed out, many people obstinately go on wanting things which don't fit the cultural ideals. Secondly, cultural ideals can and do change - if you look at ideals of "beauty" for women in the West, they change decade by decade, often pretty radically. And thirdly, there's no reason why what you mean by "beautiful" or "attractive" has to conform to what the current media say you ought to think is "beautiful" or "attractive".
Member # 28218
posted 04-23-2006 04:06 PM
[ 04-23-2006, 04:17 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]
Member # 3
posted 04-23-2006 04:12 PM
All that said, maybe we can gear the discussion back to Smurf's original topic, which was NOT about sexual attraction?
Member # 28218
posted 04-23-2006 04:20 PM
Miz S, why do you think girls want to look a certain way and feel bad about themselves if they don't? (That is the problem we're trying to counter here, correct?) I always thought it was b/c they wished to attract people, which is why I thought Smurf's original topic indirectly had a LOT to do with sexual attraction.
Member # 3
posted 04-23-2006 04:25 PM
quote: Miz S, why do you think girls want to look a certain way and feel bad about themselves if they don't? Well, that's a pretty complex question without anything close to a single answer, especially since while self-image issues tend to effect girls more strongly, there's also not unique to women.
And there are SO many reasons for poor self-image and for obsession with physical appearance, just with women alone: there are issues of women as a class and their status in the world (which physical apperance plays a HUGE part in in many cultures), there are class issues, period (some studies have shown pretty huge discrepancies with this issue, for instance, between very lower-class women and those in middle and upper classes), there are issues BETWEEN women, family issues, issues of capitalism and mass media. One can spread even further out and look at health issues and depression (which women are more inclined to have due to hormonal factors), etc. But again, I really am quite certain - and Smurf can possibly clarify this -- that sexual attraction was NOT what she was looking to focus on.
Member # 22756
posted 04-23-2006 06:11 PM
It's interesting that in the last 3 centuries or so, the definition of beauty has shifted more to
the visual recognition of what pleases the senses, as opposed to another older meaning of harmony and symmetry. Personally, I don't think you can determine somebody's true beauty until you interact with them and see what kind of person they are. Gwaihir's comments on initial attraction/experienced repulsion are really apt. I've made the mistake of seeing external beauty where there was no internal beauty; I've lucked out, seeing internal beauty where there was little external beauty. More importantly, there's truth to the caveat that "Until you see yourself as beautiful, no one else will." It seems like a lot of the threads here have pointed out one of the cruces of this discussion - that external signs of beauty are often (misguidedly) conflated with one's perception of their own "inner" beauty - their value as a person. In the rush to be perceived as "beautiful" in skin-level ways, some people fail to maintain their character and self-esteem. I always thought it was b/c they wished to attract people Granted, that's true in a limited subjective sense if we equate attraction with culturally standardized physical beauty. But I think that desire to "attract" is more rooted in something like Maslow's hierarchy of self and social needs than in skin-level self-image. For Maslow, the need to belong in society comes BEFORE self-esteem. "Beauty" is tied into "belonging" and self-esteem as well. I think that's why it's more difficult to belong in a society where peole place external beauty above grounded self-stability. It's disturbing that our society (and some non-Western cultures too) places so much emphasis on cultivating physical attractiveness and social "grace" while devaluing things like mental health. Were I Yoda to somebody's Luke, I would tell them that beauty is having heart and being able to see good things in bad situations. It's important that younger people learn that internal beauty is the most meaningful - otherwise they will judge and be judged by subjective cultural standards. On the other hand, I can't think of a culture - from Iroquois to Masai - that doesn't prize integrity, respect, loyalty to your friends, and so on. [ 04-23-2006, 06:19 PM: Message edited by: kitka ]
Member # 1207
posted 04-23-2006 07:04 PM
Just to clarify, this was not really intended to be about sexual attraction. A lot of people do see beauty in terms of sexual attraction but it doesn't have to be that way ... This is what i was trying to draw out with the questions phrased the way they were.
I also think there are many other reasons as to why someone would strive to be 'beautiful' (one of the many forms of beauty, as described in this thread). For example, sometimes i wake up having a 'bad body image' day ... All the wrong freckles are sticking out, i'm bloated, and my hair won't do what i'm telling it too. I can put on some makeup, put on a nice dress and put my hair up, and i feel so much better. I don't do these things to attract other people, i do it for me, so *I* feel better about myself. I totally reject the idea that beauty HAS to be about attracting other people, in any form. VERY interesting points, kitka, especially regarding physical beauty vs. inner beauty, and what you'd say if you were 'Yoda'
Member # 28218
posted 04-23-2006 07:36 PM
I'm sorry Smurf, but about this:
"... All the wrong freckles are sticking out, i'm bloated, and my hair won't do what i'm telling it too. I can put on some makeup, put on a nice dress and put my hair up, and i feel so much better." Where does this feeling come from, if not cultural beauty standards? Why is there anything wrong with freckles or no make-up or messy hair? Why does how you look affect how you feel about yourself and you feel there is a "wrong" way to look? Maybe this is just me, but as long as I'm healthy I really couldn't care less what I look like... were it not for the hope of making positive impressions with people and attracting certain crushes. I still agree beauty can be found in many places and with many senses, and I resent people continually insinuating I said beauty was equal to sexual attraction when I repeatedly typed that I consider there to be many types of beauty, attractive things just among them. [ 04-23-2006, 07:38 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]
Member # 1207
posted 04-23-2006 08:29 PM
Where does this feeling come from, if not cultural beauty standards? Why is there anything wrong with freckles or no make-up or messy hair? Why does how you look affect how you feel about yourself and you feel there is a "wrong" way to look? Excellent questions Just because these are the same/similar to cultural beauty standards does not mean i feel this way because they are cultural beauty standards. Correlation does not equal causation On any other given day, in the same state, i could feel perfectly happy with the freckles and the bloatedness (hey, maybe my pants will fit better ... ) and such. But some days are just bad body image days for me. Don't you ever have those? I think it really has more to do w/ the state of mind than what i actually look like ... Or what anyone actually looks like.
Member # 28218
posted 04-23-2006 08:49 PM
Actually, I don't think I do have bad body-image days. I suppose I could be called a bit artsy and I tend to dress eccentrically sometimes just for fun. I love bright colors and I wish I had curly hair so that I could do some funky things with it. I tend not to smile big for pictures b/c then it shows my jaw is more asymmetrical than typical which I DO wish was not the case. But I don't really have special days where I wake up and am troubled by the way I look. The only time I ever even think about the way I look is if I realize I look messy when I need to have some sort of formal meeting with someone important, or when I'll be seeing a crush, or like going to a party and hoping to meet someone. I guess my personal mindset is I only ever care about trying to look a little more like some mainstream ideal for what I consider utilitarian reasons.
[ 04-23-2006, 09:01 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]
Member # 27531
posted 04-23-2006 09:13 PM
I couldn't resist, I had to throw in some more:
Beauty is: The way a lily pad rests on the surface of a pond, or, similarly, the way a bug swims on top of the water (...thank you, surface tension!) The moment (on a sunny day, in an airplane) RIGHT when you've JUST come out of the clouds. Symmetry Closing your eyes and hearing life go on around you, without seeing it (and how much MORE you hear when you CAN'T see). Cherry blossoms The fine grains and lacquer on a string instrument made of maple. (And one of the things I find REALLY beautiful, which is kind of strange....being able to see the tendons in someone's hands. )
Member # 22756
posted 04-23-2006 09:47 PM
Thanks, Smurf. Awesome topic!
I guess my personal mindset is I only ever care about trying to look a little more like some mainstream ideal for what I consider utilitarian reasons. That's exactly what Smurf is arguing against; if somebody gets dolled up just to catch a partner, that puts them in a subordinate position where they're having to prove themselves to other people, and they don't even realize it. They're not being beautiful for themselves. What happens if they don't secure that goal of partnership with a certain person? Thing is (among other things) this mindset puts them at risk for a crushing realization of "if only I had made myself look nicer for THEM" years down the line. If they're more well-adjusted, they might escape unscathed, but that's kind of dicey, given the run of self-esteem issues that women face today. one example of beauty to me is: black helicopters flying over the blue of the Indian Ocean, silhoutted against the golden sky
Member # 28218
posted 04-23-2006 10:12 PM
Meeting interesting characters on public transportation and hearing their life story. Waking up during extreme turbulence on an airplane and looking outside to see a blood-red moon. A game of stripping-spin-the-bottle with people you admire. Dark chocolate with spices, and homemade flower-sorbet Massages plaster, dancing, making-out, and all other manners of exhilirating perpetual motion Those gray days after it's rained, when you can smell wet soil and then feel it under your barefeet Wind through your hair and over your bare shoulders when you run Lying outside with your eyes closed and pretending that you're making love to the sun (b/c you can feel its hot presence heavy all over) Those guys who identify as feminists and cook and clean WELL Laughing at yourself when the worst things happen. Moving on and especially entertaining other people with stories of how weird you make your life. Life. Growing green things. Outrageous laughters. Messy hair. Having a secret dream, then finding others who share it. The fact that no matter how sophisticated we think our technology and philosophies make us, 5 major components of life tie us to other mammals and to people since the dawn of time: Working, Eating, Sleeping, Sex, Playing [ 04-23-2006, 10:15 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]