Monday, October 29, 2007

Sur la Beauté

(Fashion model Liya Kebede)

I love beautiful things. I love beautiful people, beautiful music, beautiful places, beautiful clothes, if it's beautiful I like it. Recently something made me wonder if my love of beauty has made or is making me shallow. My initial answer would be no but after further thought I would have to answer maybe.

As I look back I can see that there have been times when I have passed on opportunities to know people or experience places because I didn't deem them beautiful or attractive. That is a hard pill to swallow about myself. I wonder why I value beauty so much? Is it purely the aesthetic pleasure that beauty brings? Or might there be more complicated and insidious reasons?

If a complete stranger walks up to me my reaction will be based on their attractiveness. I think that would be a subconscious reaction. Isn't that normal? Don't we all have those kinds of reactions? Don't babies respond positively to beautiful faces?

Author Malcolm Gladwell talks about this in his book Blink: The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking. As the title suggests Gladwell examines decisions we make in the blink of an eye. If we examine those types of decisions, what will it say about us? That we favor certain things simply based on appearance? If a neighborhood looks bad and our first instinct is to avoid it, isn't that a smart choice? But what have we missed out on because of that snap judgement?

Other implications are more serious. Such as snap judgements based on race.

What If a paramedic or a doctor makes a snap judgement about the person being treated based on appearance? What if a police officer makes a decision based on a persons appearance, while having her gun drawn? In those cases a decision made in the blink of an eye may mean life or death.

This topic jumped into my head because on a recent morning I decided to watch a Sade concert DVD. As I watched it I thought how amazingly beautiful Sade is. And then for some reason I wondered if I would be such a big Sade fan if she were average looking. And an extension of that, would she be as popular as she is if it were not for her beauty? I'm not sure if initially I would have been as open to Sade's unique singing style had I not admired her beauty. So does that make me shallow? I want to find a reason to say no but it might.

Would Tracy Chapman be a bigger star if society thought of her as beautiful? Is the only reason I live in northern California because of it's beauty? Have I chosen my friends based on beauty? Did I buy my PC based on appearance? I didn't even know my PC burned Cd's until I got it home.

This is not easy to think about, I don't want to think of myself as being shallow. I want to blame the society I live in that promotes beauty above all else. I want to say that I am only a product of my environment. But whatever the reason, if I'm making this assessment then I ought to make changes.

I need to look deeper, judge less quickly and be more open to other kinds of beauty. The kinds of beauty that are not necessarily apparent at first glance.

This is as they say, a teachable moment. I have the information and now I simply need to apply it.

8 comments:

Monica Roberts said...

Most boys are taught in terms of looking for a mate not to get hung up on a beautiful face.

A beautiful face is good, but brains and personality are more higly prized than just a beautiful face. I've known drop dead gorgeous people with either jacked up attitudes or who are dumber than George W Bush.

As long as we are humans we'll always appreciate beautiful things and people. There's nothing wrong with that.

We just have to be cognizant of our faults and expand the definition of 'beautiful'

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Monica,

That's true. I think that we just have to keep everything in perspective with regard to looks.

Miriam said...

IF in fact, you may have shallowness. Don't take it as the WHOLE of your personality.

Many successful people are successful simply because they were able to put feelings, emotions, depth of something aside, and focus on the goal! i.e. they had drive, determination, ambition in their personality as well.

One persona that comes to mind is Queen Esther -if your into that. I don't remember where the story is found but she did what she had to do to succeed and she succeeded.

Angie Braden said...

Good post... I enjoyed it. I think that this topic is something that everyone should spend some time thinking about.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Miriam,

You are such a positive person. Thanks for finding a different angle to explore.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Angie,

Thanks. Self inventory every now and then is a good thing. That way if one is heading down the wrong path a correction can be made.

Lisa said...

I have always wanted to think that people judged me based on my ability and not by my looks. I get angry with my sister because she insists that I wear make-up or certain outfits because of the way it makes people respond/respect you. Even though I don't think that I am an unattractive person, I just didn't want "how I look" to be a determining factor in my professional success. I have found, more times than not, that my sister was right - Unfortunately, we ALL are guilty of judging people by how they look. I think that recognizing this thought process is the first step in "making it right". Great post!

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Lisa,

Ultimately it's our character that will override everything, but we have to get through those first impressions before anyone gets to see our character. So the dilemma remains.

Thanks

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About Me

West Coast, United States
African American, Poet?, Vegetarian, Music lover, Agoraphobic, Social Phobic

My Favorite Poet

My Favorite Poet
Staceyann Chin

My Favorite Track Athlete

My Favorite Track Athlete
Christine Arron