To Be Beautiful
There is a yearning for beauty in each of us. Our eyes seek it wherever we go. We find ourselves attracted to beautiful things: cars, houses, clothes, furniture, dishes, etc. Yet surrounding ourselves with attractive objects is not enough, for what we truly want in our hearts is to be beautiful ourselves. The problem is, we believe beauty is a multitude of inherited attributes that most of us simply do not have. With this mindset, beauty is an unattainable feat. No matter how expensive our clothes or how stylish our haircut, the feeling of beauty that we hoped would accompany our attire is always out of reach. Even professional models often admit they feel far from beautiful. Some people go as far as getting plastic surgery, only to end up feeling imperfect for having had the very surgery they underwent to feel more beautiful.
I once noticed that the clerk at my local grocery store had a beautiful smile, and I complemented her on it. â€śIt cost me a fortune,â€ť she said unhappily, and I realized with surprise that having perfect teeth did not make her feel beautiful. She saw her beauty as fake, and for that reason it didnâ€™t count or matter to her. This may seem irrational, but itâ€™s the same kind of strange logic that many of us use to continuously deny ourselves self-love for fear of becoming narcissistic or arrogant. Socially, it is considered shameful to think of oneself as beautiful. When people give us a complement, more often then not we shrug it off and feel uncomfortable. We fear that accepting the complement, or letting even a sliver of it into our hearts will turn us into self-centered egomaniacs. In this eBook, I would like to explore whether this is really the truth, and what, if unleashed, feeling beautiful would really do to us.
Narcissism, Arrogance, and Beauty
Let us begin by investigating the origins of our beliefs about beauty. Perhaps the first story to cast a shadow across the face of beauty is the cautionary tale of Narcissus. According to Greek mythology, â€śNarcissus was a hunter who was renowned for his beauty. He was exceptionally proud, and he disdained those who loved him. As divine punishment he fell in love with his own reflection in a pool, not realizing it was merely an image, and he wasted away to death, not being able to leave the beauty of his own reflection. â€ť
The moral implied by this little story is fairly harsh, it runs along the lines of: if you love yourself you will die for being such a jerk. Notice, it was the young manâ€™s attitude towards others that was the problem, not his beauty. Yet this ancient fable represents how many of us think of beauty even today. The looming social paranoia of narcissism can make us afraid of dressing with good taste, and taking care of ourselves. It can slowly atrophy our confidence, and our ability to feel at ease with each other. Most importantly, this fear can make us afraid of receiving love from others, inducing a strange and unnecessary loneliness. We have been led to believe that having a world of men and women who think well of themselves would be terrible, but is it really worse than having a society full of people with low self-esteem?
Imagine a well-dressed woman with a confident stride just walked into the room and sat down across from you. Do you instantly label her as narcissistic and arrogant for having the moxie to be so beautiful? No, on the contrary, many of us would be pleased, and even flattered to have her company. Perhaps the only negative emotion that might arise is a slight twinge of jealousy for her elegant beauty and poise. Yet any one of us could have what she has if we would stop so ruthlessly forbidding it to ourselves. The paradox is that we place beauty out of our own reach, deliberately denying ourselves the feelings of self-worth that are our birthright on account of some rickety social conditioning. Would we shame a flower for putting on such bright and lovely colors and wearing sweet perfume? We wouldnâ€™t even think of it! Why then, do we place so many restrictions on how people look, act, and feel?
This is an excerpt from the eBook: To Be Beautiful
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