It was an interesting afternoon. The staff in our office went ensemble to a Beauty/Makeup store for a group makeover. It was a fun, relaxing event where we all got to have a makeover and try new products. When I came home and signed into Facebook I noticed that people were trying a new app to Analyze your profile picture: “A no-brainer, just for fun app to analyze your profile pic on the basis of charisma, smartness, coolness and sexiness. Try now.”
It got me thinking, which can be dangerous. I spent 25 years in the cosmetic industry, selling “hope” to consumers who were looking to change, enhance or completely redo their appearance and their life. We had features and benefits to handle any need or objection. Not happy with the texture of your skin? There is a product for that. If you are Asian and would like to look more Caucasian there is a product for that. Need to feel sexy? There is a scent for that.
What is beauty?
It can be framed as a moral equation. Plato says “What is beautiful is good.” “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” wrote John Keats. Anatole France thought beauty “more profound than truth itself.”
Beauty is a celebration at its best. It is the face paint of aboriginal warriors or Madonna in her metal bra. We revel in the chance to shed our everyday skin and masquerade as a more powerful, romantic, or sexy being.
Beauty also discriminates. Beautiful people are said to make more money, get called on more often in class, receive higher pay , and arethought to be friendlier. We all judge books by their cover.
Do we believe the clichés that “beauty is only skin deep” or “its in the eyes of the beholder” In this era of political correctness it’s still is the truth that appearance matters, and we are not all created “equal”. Some are more beautiful than others.
Beauty matters. It can test our values. The more we live and embrace the depth of our world, the more generous our definition of beauty will become.
Love of appearance has been preeminent for centuries and through all cultures. Is it hard-wired into us? Beautiful also means young, healthy, virile and fertile. Very attractive if you want the species to continue.
The preoccupation with beauty can be a neurosis, (think Michael Jackson or Cher) and yet there is something therapeutic about paying attention to how we look and feel. Is beauty shallow or is it fun to reinvent ourselves? Is it a mystical transformation? I recently uploaded a whack of pictures from my cosmetic career and it was fun and enlightening to see the many transformations of my appearance. It felt good to have felt attractive, but the real me is here today. The I hasn’t changed.
At the end of the day when the life breath is leaving, what will really matter?
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross