Eye of the Beholder

What makes someone beautiful?

Beauty is a complicated thing, I think. As a modern American girl, beauty has been a fixation of mine since an early age. My mother would make me dresses and braid my hair, and then I would go out to play in the dirt and catch snakes, and then come home and get in trouble…so I tend to equate beauty with a certain element of cleanliness, and a pleasant aroma as well (garter-snakes pee really stinky stuff on yer hands when you catch ’em).

And then there is the more cultural spin on the matter, I started reading Seventeen magazine, probably when I was 11 or 12 years old, so they very act of turning 17 seemed quite worldly and glamorous, let alone aspiring to look like those glossy spreads of girls. We all know there is the whole weight thing to contend with – in the country with the highest rate of obesity, we idolize women who are skinny as rails, often unnaturally so, and then they are still supposed to be sporting C cups… & on top of that, there is the whole airbrushing issue, so that these models, who are already attended to by doctors, specialists, and makeup artists, so that they have the most fresh and flawless complexions, are then buffed out and shined up with computer graphics programs.

Now that I am in my early thirties, my skin is only just now beginning to clear up, I think because my hormones have chilled out (for the moment, right?) and I have figured out what diet is best for me (well, I have improved the situation, to a degree). I would like to add, that the big switch in my diet, that I can identify, is simply that I have cut out a lot of the chemicals, it wasn’t so much an issue of dairy products or meat, but just crap. Preservatives, food colors, Doritos…mmmm…Doritos…

Anyhow, there’s my background on the modern classic beauty – which is not limited to women, but also men – does your boyfriend have six-pack abs? Probably not, huh? & you might be glad of that, because most dudes I have known, that do have a six-pack, keep Going To The Gym pretty high on their list of priorities (boooooring!).

So, though we all like a pretty face, or ass, or whatever – if there isn’t a good personality to back it up, you probably will not consider someone to be beautiful. I happen to think that my boyfriend is quite handsome, and he just looks better to me all the time, as we spend more time together and learn more about one another. Practically every time he sez something clever, he gets a bit cuter! And with that time spent, I learn to trust more, in him and in us, and that gives the overall attraction more weight and solid foundation.

I think that another hang up with beauty is that many beautiful people are aware of their status, and are often treated a bit more pleasantly than the homelys. This can often lead to a bad attitude! So this is why I tend to hold back now; sure they’re cute, but are they an asshole? Only when someone does something admirable (sometimes even just a little something), will I upgrade them to beautiful (on my petty and judgmental tally card I keep in my head).

And bringing it back to the physical appearances alone – beauty is basically a trick, designed to instigate the propagation of the species. Even falling in love, is a chemical response, designed to cheer you up and get you in the sack with someone from a desirable gene pool (best case scenario). So we are rather driven, I think – by this weird, primal urge – just to mate, basically. But in this day and age, we seem to be doing OK in the “do we have enough humans running around on the planet?” arena – & we have been left with something missing.

I mean, even the idea of the nuclear family has fallen through, with the husband, the wife, and the two kids…that’s just not America anymore. We have been left with the interesting conundrum trying to figure out what really makes us happy. I mean, sure, most folks would like to wake up every day next to someone who is easy on the eyes, but again – not if they are an asshole! & I would add, that this situation, where we have the luxury of toodling around, asking ourselves, “does this really make me happy? am I satisfied with this situation?” is a recent event.

That so many of us are at our leisure to follow our respective blisses… would be unheard of in nearly any block of history that one might choose from the history books! Up until, what? The sixties or so? Women especially, have done as they were told – but even men have been quite beholden to their rank or family ties. I suppose the artistic & elite have often had time to ponder the mysterious and the beautiful, but most of us poor schmucks have to get back to work already. & to be a beautiful daughter,  historically, set the tone for a life of being auctioned off to the highest bidder, and where’s the fun in that?

But in closing, I would like to add, that I might not be a reliably beautiful creature myself, but I certainly think that I look my best when I am feeling happy, and healthy…and well rested – don’t you ever underestimate that beauty rest! Good stuff…

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