Monday, July 08, 2013

You Are Beautiful. . . Or Does it Even Really Matter?

The sign beckons me from a parking lot in Santa Monica.  You are beautiful, it says.  And for a moment, I agree.  I am beautiful.  And so are you.  And you.  And yes, even you.

It's such a, well, beautiful sentiment.  We should all acknowledge how uniquely beautiful we are.

For years, I've worked within this framework, encouraging women to focus on what aspects of their appearance they like.  For some, even finding one or two features was a difficult task, but I was patient and resolute.  For me, it was important to recognize that appearance isn't a black-and-white issue, and that while you might not like your stomach, your eyes, well, they're kinda pretty, no?

And, zooming out a bit, aren't you really just a beautifully complete creature, a perfect constellation of limbs, organs, fluid, and cells, parts that fit and function in a miraculous way?

More recently, though, I've found myself shifting frames.  If you feel beautiful, that's quite an accomplishment given our current cultural context.  Good for you.  You've outwitted them.

But if you don't, that might okay, too.  Because, I'm interested in taking that current cultural context and slamming it into an empty parking lot wall.  Why must we put such a premium on beauty? You're not so attractive?  Okay.  What do you have going for you that likely, in the scheme of things, matters significantly more?  Beauty may get us through this world more quickly.  I'm not going to argue that.  It's like a theme park fast pass for life. But, if beauty is what you want out of life, and that's how you'll evaluate your time on earth as it nears it's end, then it's possible you have some larger challenges than the shape of your nose or the size of your thighs.

The ladies behind Beauty Redefined offer up some words of wisdom that reflect this change of course.  You may argue, "No, that's not true," but isn't that just another sign that you've been brainwashed like the rest of us?

So, what do you think?  Should we continue to stress "You are beautiful," or instead radicalize the discourse a la Beauty Redefined?