Do You Worship Physical Beauty?

Let me make a confession right up front. I have a little streak of vanity.

Put a nicer way, I take pride in my appearance. I never leave the house without some makeup and I practice a morning ritual of styling my hair. I file my nails and moisturize my skin. I shave and tweeze and primp. I check myself in the mirror before heading out into the world. I’ve always been that way and suspect I always will.

A streak of vanity? Guilty as charged. Foolishly attempting to live up to the narrow standard of beauty set by our culture? Not on your life. Not when I was 20 years old, and certainly not now that I am 50.

Do you ever get the feeling that somewhere out there is a mold of what a woman should look like… and that what you see in the mirror bears no resemblance to that mold? However our standards of beauty have come together, I’m not falling for it.

The lure of beauty is strong, and we’ve got ample tools at our disposal to achieve it. Some even jeopardize our health. Tanning beds, teeth whiteners, Botoxģ injections, nose jobs, facelifts, tummy tucks, liposuction, breast augmentation, self-starvation, expensive designer clothing… it boggles the mind.

What is it that we hope to achieve by worshiping at this altar of physical beauty? Perhaps self-esteem… attention… happiness… success? There are far better ways to achieve those.

Physical beauty, even the ultimate shining example of it, changes as we age. Time and gravity serve no master. They do what they do regardless of how much we are willing to suffer to slow them down.

In the end, it’s all about you. YOU — the human being who resides within that slightly less than perfect and continually aging body. Then again, who gets to decide what is perfect? Nobody but you.

Next: Taking a good, long look in the mirror.

Every morning I spend a few minutes looking at my reflection in the mirror. Sometimes I like what I see, other times not so much.

I’m 50 years old and I have multiple sclerosis. There are great fluctuations in my health status and, therefore my appearance. Sometimes there is a spring in my step, sometimes I need to use a cane, sometimes even the cane is not enough; sometimes I am physically unable to complete my morning beauty routine; sometimes I could pass for 10 years younger, sometimes 10 years older.

I’m not a classic beauty. I don’t think of myself as pretty and no one has ever accused me of being cute. Still, I can honestly say that I am an attractive woman — and I’m not even going to say, “for my age.” I’ve never caused anyone to scurry away in horror. I look just the way I’m supposed to look. I look like me.

I view myself in much the same manner one would view a piece of fine art. If I were to concentrate on nothing but the individual parts that make up the whole, I could make quite a list of the flaws. My nose is too big, my skin is too pale, and my thighs have lost their former firmness. My weight is just right for my height, but I take only a smidgeon of credit for a healthy lifestyle and thank my ancestors for their genetic gift.

I know that I am not alone in my resistance to the standards and gruesome hard work of acceptable beauty. There are others –† many others — who believe as I do.

We ask ourselves why other women continue to subject themselves to torture. Is it peer pressure? Is it for the men? I think a lot of men are as perplexed by it all as I am. Do the insecurities of adolescence remain with us forever? Is it because “they” say we should? That’s the worst reason of all. Who the hell are “they” anyway?

We must come to terms with our inner beauty — our intelligence; our sense of humor; our wild and crazy and passionate selves.

Young women, please take note. Life is an accumulation of our experiences. I’ve lived the good, the bad, the ugly, and even the ridiculous. Hopefully, there’s a lot more to come. It all shows in my face, in my mannerisms, and in the way I carry myself.

Rather than attempt to cover my tracks, I prefer to embrace all those experiences that got me here. Physical beauty is fleeting. I primp, but the mold I use is purely my own. I’m satisfied with that.

Photo: copyright


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Nimue Pendragon

I think everyone likes physical beauty to some degree. I am lucky to be reasonably attractive, I'm happy with who and what I am, I like attractive people, but I also like people who aren't super attractive, people who have great personalities and other attributes which aren't physical. It is important to see the inner beauty of all people, it's there, you just have to look for it :)

marsha maxwell
marsha maxwwell2 years ago

I know inner beauty is what really counts, but at 38 I was walking down a street, minding my own business, and 2 young punks walked near me, and one guy called me ugly, I am now 60 and HAVE NEVER GOTTEN OVER IT. To me this seemed like a soul rape. Also, I refer everyone to the Twilight Zone, for the EYE OF THE BEHOLDER episode, This says it all! you can watch Twilight Zone weekdays ay 9:30pm on MeTV !

Julia Oleynik
Julia Oleynik2 years ago

Thank You for sharing

Kamia T.
Kamia T2 years ago

No, frankly, I don't. After spending years working in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, where there are some of the most beautiful people on the outside, but really depraved and ugly on the inside, I've certainly learned that it's the character of the person, not their color or their comeliness.

Sarah M.
Sarah M2 years ago

I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to be physically beautiful, but it shouldn't be something that you feel you HAVE to aspire to in order to succeed in life or to be considered a worthy person. It's no secret that it's important to a lot of people, but there are also many who could care less about it, and it also should be emphasized that beauty is very subjective, and I agree with the author that it should be YOU who decides what is "perfect"!

There's a big difference between, for instance, putting makeup on just because you feel like you must in order to have an acceptable appearance when going out, and putting on makeup because it's an expression of your creativity and you love the process/how it makes you feel (though of course a person could do it for both of these reasons.)

Hahaha @Robert V. I love the term "dietary perversions" :D Going to use that one a lot now! I agree with you that "there is nothing wrong with a man refusing to tolerate a lifestyle that causes a pot belly" but there is also nothing wrong with being a "dietarily perverse" fatty with a much-worshipped pot belly ;)

sylvia S.
sylvia S3 years ago

I can't lie but i love all beauty... I love to look at beautiful women... i love to look at beautiful art... I love to look at whatever I find beautiful, it makes me happy. it give me butterflies .. i can take million of photos of something that i find beautiful .. I also love to look beautiful .. i love to dress up put make up on.. i know I'm smart ... i know i'm funny i know who i'm ... i know what i believe in i know my values ... i like who i'm .. but i don't like what i look like when i'm not glam .. i just don't ... my eyes vanish .. my skin is pale .. i love taking time putting my make up ... it's like art.. i take time.. to bland in everything .. i love what i look like when after almost 2 hours of hair and make up I put on a new dress beautiful shoes and go out for to a beautiful place to taste perfectly made food.. and the place is filled with beautiful people... whenever i go to Paris I can spend hours just people watching.. there something amazing about beauty for me .. I rip pages from the magazines to collect them i don't want to forget how beautiful something was... create books of beautiful images ... I don't want to get old.. I know i will ... and I will accept that .. I wont get depressed or have million plastic surgries but I will have some corrections .. here and there ... I still want to look like a human ... however if I can maintain just a little bit of my look why not .. .it's a part of who I'm.. it's not all of it ... but its part of me... that i love

Robert Vincelette

We must be careful not to disrespect that a healthy body that has been made so - notwithstanding the limits of real physical illnesses that impose some limits - by our choices to exercise and to turn our backs upon society whenever society tries to sell us junk food instead of the kind of food we should eat produces beauty in its own right. Obesity is a disease caused by dietary perversions and there is nothing wrong with a man refusing to tolerate a lifestyle that causes a pot belly. Appropriate exercise even if one trains hard for a limited session does not so much as worship beauty as it does to respect and appreciate our bodies and others who might not like to see beer bellies hanging over the belt line.