Beauty Bespoken

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There’s so much that has been said and written about beauty. Whether it be celebrating the forever joy it sustains or the rampant undoings of its essence, if there has been any, beauty has been unable to escape the human judgement. Obsessing over societal notions of beauty, growing through cultural acceptance of them, trying to adhere to beauty standards without tending to seem too shallow and vain- because that’s what beauty has been understood as in its many vilifications, this concern of the human for everything and anything beautiful- which is basically every single entity of the world since beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder as has been believed, or at least proclaimed, is but an evolutionary trait of them. Because the recognition of the importance of beauty is biological and therefore natural and not learned, it means that we all are hardwired to exhibit leanings for the beautiful. Which is not anything bad, not at least any more than it would have been good.

Despite such affinity for beauty that we harbour in all unison, all of us are quick to claim on any discussion pertaining to what is first a physical- rather, visual trait that ultimately it’s the inner beauty that matters and that looks will only take you far enough to leave you, ultimately again, on your own, in nature and spirit. Does this dual adherence to beauty on our part, even in complete justification of its basis and being, make us somewhat of hypocrites who skew their definition of things as and when it is convenient for them? What exactly is it about surface beauty that has us squander not any opportunity to distance ourselves from its showcasing even when our impression of it is no less rooted in profound appreciation of the joy that it indeed guarantees? As something molded by common perception of society that views beauty as an attribute and not just as part of the physicality of an individual, this essentially positive experience of the world tends to take on interpretations that marks essentially any pursual of it as almost sinlike an yearning that humans can only deign to do. But in denying or rather rebuking the essence of pulchritude in all its naturalness, what we might in fact be doing is work out the bad of something that in its goodness while might hold not any benefit especially substantial, does not also seek to cause any harm, only if we did let it perpetuate through all the innate flow of it.

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Beauty of the soul sure is important because nothing makes you more human than what you are in your innermost spirit. When your self is an entity of pure beauty, it makes also the world around seem at least as beautiful as itself, which ultimately is all we need to make the world a place better than what it is. But according ‘true’ beauty all its dignity and due should not call for a parallel erosion of what has come to mean beauty in the superficial sense of it. There sure would be a way that lets us celebrate things in all their becoming, whatever those might be, without having to disregard the unbecomings of them. And if there isn’t, there needs to be one. Because it isn’t fair that someone who is beautiful should go by their whole life forever unaware of the ‘power’ they yield, of igniting debates and disagreements, even violence, over something as unintended and uncertain as mere appearance. Or beauty should not be restrictive a notion of what someone can or cannot be as a person. A person who looks beautiful might also be as beautiful within, something that is considered a rare possibility in a world congested by the sceptics. It is almost if all beautiful people are born vain and rude and inconsiderate and ‘inhuman’ because they have what they say the looks of the god, or the fairies, or anything superhuman for that matter.

In fact, this draw to the divine manifests as an irony because physical beauty is something we have been taught to not strive for. And yet seldom are Gods and Goddesses depicted as anything but ethereal looking, even with the consideration that not any single person has an idea of how any of the supreme beings really look like in their presence, if they indeed do in the first place. While that might be a premise for devouts to state that this perfection is what draws the line between human and heaven, it also means that aspiring to become God like can in fact be a proposition that needs us to reevaluate our definitions of the good and the bad. The issue might turn out to be contentious if we choose to drag this further so letting it subside here and now since the discourses on religion are not something we intend to embark upon in all the ambiguity of them, we however continue to fuel our obsession for granting beauty the place of praise it deserves. Even without the reference of the celestial, beauty- and physical beauty exclusively, isn’t something that needs to be talked about in hush hush tones of how it perpetuates inequality in society, of a kind intangible yet emphasising. Indeed it might be that those who do not consider themselves to be beautiful physically- or in the face of themselves, quite blatantly, might come to be characterised by some sort of inferiority complex or low self esteem or such issue pertaining to the psyche. But the disgusting point here is not the awareness that beauty is at fault here, it rather is the undue exaggeration of beauty, not just in it being angelic and stuff, but also as much in it being fickle and fleeting and unimportant that is at the core of such misperceptions. Because when we as a society obsess over a thing, irrespective of whether it is good or bad, what we end up doing is lending something very basic so much attention that it comes to characterise our lives to an extent that we begin to largely live in them. Essentially then, even in stressing just how irrelevant physical appearance is, what we are doing is fanning further such perceptions that deem beauty as important enough of being able to spark off debates for and against its existent or non existent worth.

Workings on the psychology apart, beauty should not be vilified, if not revered, for the sheer ‘importance’ it continues to yield on the weary souls of the world. Poets and litterateurs have forever waxed eloquent about beauty, artists and painters have drawn out classic masterpieces with their muses in mind and singers and musicians have melodies revolving around the many aspects of beauty, including the physical, as rich repertoires of soulful realisation, that bears the ability to soothe our scorched beings and transports us to a world of utopic bliss, that cures us instantly of all worldly woes and furthers our pursuit of the simplistic bliss of life. Without the enigmatic Monalisa there wouldn’t have been a Leonardo da Vinci to look upto; without a handsome Mr. Darcy, we would not have experienced the euphoria of fantasising our lives in all leisurely indulgence of the spirit; without the evocative imagery that celebrates a blonde damsel letting her hair down in all its soft curls, caressing her rosy cheeks and kissing her pink lips, as she dances around in joy, with an elegant gait and shy cheer, we wouldn’t really have know the art of feminine joy to bath ourselves in for those dreamy once in a lifetime photoshoot portraits; with no image of Rapunzel floating about our eyes, we would not have the image of our own prince charming as well to envision a life in such beauty that bears the ability to gratify our heart. In such and numerous other means through which physical beauty, conventional or not, has been celebrated in the domain of the arts and the life, we discover a kind of joy, a certain heaven that would not have come to characterise our imagination living within the murky realities of the real world. Lending us therefore with a vision that transcends the nature that life can behest itself in to turn mundane to tiring extents, it has been but beauty that has been a respite for our souls, a recluse where we find a certain belonginess, even if those physical attributes are unlike anything that defines us in essence. John Keats indeed had spoken his heart out when he claimed a thing of beauty to be joy forever. Beauty indeed is an never ending source of joy, even when it ceases to be itself, beauty has a power of living through moments and experiences and of course a certain romance ascribable to it.

And why just people, do places also not exhibit stunning levels of beauty to have the same experience upon us? The verdancy of the greens, the crystal allure of the skies, the shimmering sands of the beaches, the twinkling lights of a decked up palace, the colors scattered over the terrains of a town all are but manifestations of beauty in a form that gets as physical as it can. And yet we don’t find anyone who writes off such characteristics of flamboyance and resolves instead to decipher the beauty within of the landscape. Forget places, even other more animate beings, think birds and flowers and animals and virtually everything are exalted for the astounding allure of their physicality. We find sparrows cute in their tiny forms, we savour every sight of a deer for its innocuous grace and beauty, we erupt in joy with every sighting of a peacock dancing in all its pretty colors, we love the vibrancy of colorful butterflies fluttering away from one pretty flower to the next- we even draw references from them in our many idioms and stuff and yet none of it condemns us to being looked down upon as someone with too much emphasis on the physical standards of beauty. If every other life form can be celebrated for something that is essentially, inherently physical in its attractiveness, then why does calling a person beautiful based solely on their looks comes across as superfluous adherence to what should be considered ‘real’ beauty?

Also, what exactly is the basis by which we go about saying of someone supposedly not beautiful that it is their inner beauty that will hold them in good stead? What determines the standards of beauty in a world that has as many eyes and that which therefore can perceive beauty in their myriad, almost infinite ways? If beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and with no exact way to surveying whether everything or everyone perceived as ugly by one is ugly also to every other individual in the world, how exactly can anyone surmise the essence of beauty for that matter? What emerges as problematic therefore is not such beauty that is wholly and thoroughly physical, irrespective of what lies within it, but rather our skewed perception of it. It is in according beauty a elevated status that we have actually brought down upon its doom. Beauty is too trivial an identity to be a cause for conflict, yet too important a matter to bring disgrace upon in each and every single mention of it. It isn’t really anyone’s fault if they are born beautiful, physically that is for inner beauty needs to be cultivated, and it’s time we stop this tendency to frown upon this aspect of what will characterise existence till the time we cease to exist altogether. The joys of beauty might not be what you care about to smile all your life in but try as well not to make it the cause of that frown that has you squandering any chance you have at being beautiful, whichever way you might prefer to be.


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