Writer and journalist August McLaughlin, whom you can find at www.augustmclaughlin.com and her August McLaughlin Blog, has once again invited writers across the internet to participate in the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest, a “blog-fest designed to celebrate beauty, however you define it.” My submission is posted below. I hope you enjoy what you read here and that you will follow the links to the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest site and read what others have to say about beauty.
The Beauty Box
If you type B-E-A-U-T-Y into a Google search you will get approximately 2.3 billion results. That’s 2.3 billion starting points for your exploration of the concept of BEAUTY. Dictionary definitions. Style guides. Product reviews. Beauty tips. It’s a fun list. Eventually you even get some links to pages that have nothing to do with a woman’s appearance.
If you search for BEAUTY at Wikipedia you will find about 1,800 words on the subject, including 260 words on ugliness, implying, I suppose, that ugly is the Yang to the Yin of BEAUTY. Wikipedia will also direct you to visit their pages on adornment, beauty pageants, glamour, processing fluency theory of aesthetic pleasure (surprisingly more interesting than it sounds), and sexual capital.
CNN has 11,262 articles on BEAUTY–the first one on their list being all about plastic surgery, for what that is worth.
And if you search for BEAUTY on this blog you will pull up about thirty posts on the subject.
That’s a lot of discussion about BEAUTY. That’s a lot of definitions, opinions, facts, images, and rules about just what BEAUTY is and how to achieve it. Peruse that mess long enough and you will get lost in that algorithmic labyrinth.
The only way out of the maze is to change the goal and to change the goal we must accept the question–“What is BEAUTY?”–is flawed from the moment it is asked. It is flawed because it implies there might actually be an answer out there, that BEAUTY might actually be quantifiable.
We know better than that.
In fact we thrive in the social media game by stating in a thousand different ways how much BEAUTY is NOT what the magazines and beauty industry tells us it is. We talk about “real beauty”. We read about “real women”. We come to terms with realistic expectations. We even share variations of the old BEAUTY clichés
Everyone is beautiful.
Beauty is as beauty does.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
We take time to redefine the rules of what is beautiful. We construct a box that includes the parts of us that didn’t fit in before. “There is room for everyone in the box,” we might say. “All are welcome. All shapes. All sizes. All skin tones. All sides. All facets. Everyone IS beautiful.”
And so…there we are…in the box. The BEAUTY box.
We made it. We stand in solidarity with our beautiful sisters.
We feel good…
…and then we don’t.
It’s not what we imagined it would be and we quietly think “Sure, everyone ELSE is beautiful but I’m still just me. “
Billions of words out there written about BEAUTY and still we got it wrong. We put so much effort into trying to pin down BEAUTY in the hopes we might be able to touch it and caress it and copy it, that we left no room to imagine how far off track we were. We asked the wrong question, got lost, and failed to recognize BEAUTY is not something we can describe and measure. BEAUTY is not merely something to BE or SEE.
BEAUTY is an emotion.
BEAUTY is something you feel.
Think of the last thing you saw that was truly beautiful. How did you know it was beautiful? Did you measure it? Did you compare and contrast its features? No, you just knew it was beautiful. You felt it. Your heart may have raced. Something stirred. Subtle maybe, but real emotion.
BEAUTY can’t be put in a box. BEAUTY is something you FEEL.
And when you learn to feel BEAUTY you will learn to feel BEAUTIFUL.