We live in an age where a nuclear holocaust is a very real possibility. You read in the news about terrorists, soldiers or innocent people being killed in bomb raids or shootings in the Far East. Heck! There is even a “zombie rampage” (as I read it called once) in the US at the moment. The thing is that while bombs and bullets and flesh-eating zombies are a terrifying and dangerous concept, I believe that there are four ideas or four “truths”, as I like to call them, that are infinitely more powerful and more dangerous than anything else in the world. Beauty. Truth. Fear. Love. Even just one of these four words has more destructive power than any nuclear bomb or biological weapon. All four are connected to each other but even just one is powerful enough on its own. Three of these “weapons” have the power to create unimaginable happiness. True, unconditional happiness. All four though have the power to completely destroy anything within their reach and beyond. Today I wish to talk about the first; beauty. I nearly lost my life, no exaggeration, as the cost in my desperate search for beauty and everyday I see people who pay for this desperate need with more than just money. The point of this series is to not pass judgment or say what I think is right or wrong. I just wish to explain with as much of an unbiased opinion as possible.
Our society today is so obsessed with beauty that we do all manner of crazy things to achieve “beauty”. Plastic surgery, spending hundreds a year on beauty products, shopping for clothes that will make us look better, working out religiously, obsessing over food and even making ourselves get sick, eating disorders. I myself suffered from anorexia with binge /purge tendencies for 5 or 6 years due to a mistaken belief of what beauty is. While I have overcome my illness there are still days when I have to force myself to eat and then force myself to keep my food down. Celebrities enforce this image that we all have to look a certain way and then society confirms this mistaken belief with advertising and bullying. The price of “beauty” seems to be alienation, verbal abuse from our peers and strangers on the internet, debt, illness and death. I do believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder though and I think it is important that we feel good in our own skin. There is nothing wrong with treating yourself to a day at the salon and there is nothing wrong with shopping every now and again. If you feel like you are too thin or are too fat then there is nothing wrong with adopting a healthier and more active lifestyle to feel good about yourself. The key ingredient though between a healthy habit and dangerous obsession here is moderation. Don’t spend every waking minute obsessing over calories or fat-free this and gluten-free that (unless medical reasons state otherwise). You should enjoy the foods you like. Whether you give yourself a day off and eat what you want or just eat smaller portions on a regular basis. The same goes for shopping. You don’t need to buy new clothes every week. All you will have is a large selection of clothes you never wear or forget you own and then you have a problem with little to no money left. Or even shop at thrift stores. If you structure your search I guarantee that you will find a diamond in the rough. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. This is true with our physical appearance too. When someone finds me unattractive, another might find me very attractive. As I said earlier, I struggled for many years with my self-esteem. I always thought I was too fat or too ugly to ever find someone. I worked really hard and I finally see myself for who and what I really am.
I recently took part in this “experiment” where I was judged based on my physical appearance and given a “hotness score”. I only agreed to do it so I could look at photos of hot men without seeming like a creep, not because I was seeking validation. I got my results and I was actually really surprised. My “score” was a lot higher than I would have thought. As a result of getting such a high “score” my account was upgraded for free. Whether or not this is true, my account was upgraded and that’s the reason I was given. As flattered as I am, and I am, I do feel uncomfortable with being “rewarded” for my level of attraction. To me that’s like saying “This is the standard of beauty that everyone else has to live up to.”, and I am definitely in no way a good template as to what the “standard of beauty” should be. I have a naturally athletic body that has some damage due to years of eating disorders. How is that a good image for people who might not be so naturally slim? I’m sure I would be more “outraged” or whatever if I actually cared about how I look now, but I don’t. This is such a cliché but true beauty is confidence. If you are comfortable in your own skin, regardless of what you look like, then that is beauty. At least in today’s society where children and teenagers are taught to believe that they are never enough.
Sure I have mentioned the dangers of beauty to ourselves. The effects that society has on us can lead us to do stupid and possibly dangerous things. I don’t think it would be fair to write an article on the dangers of beauty without mentioning the beauty of others. By that I mean, people so beautiful that it caused danger to both themselves and those around them. Snow White and her evil step mother. We all know the story “skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony”. The evil step mother was so consumed by vanity that she tried to murder Snow White four times (four if you count the Huntsman, three if not) and failed each time. The evil step mother was then punished with death, or just plain murdered (depending on which version you see, read or hear). The most famous non-literary example is Countess Elizabeth Báthory. A Hungarian countess from the 16th century who believed that bathing in the blood of young girls would keep her young and beautiful forever. The countess has a confirmed 80 kills but she is attributed to the murder of over 600 girls. Either way she is still considered the female serial killer with the higest body count in recorded history. There is the rather thrilling (as in terrifying) example from the movie Se7en. John Doe, a serial killer who kills using the Seven Deadly Sins, mutilates the face of a beautiful woman. In one hand the woman has a phone and in the other she has enough sleeping pills to kill herself. Unable to live in a world without her physical beauty, the woman decides to kill herself and she falls victim to Vanity. The final example I want to use is from mythology (just to cover fiction, history and mythology) is the Trojan War. The goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite wanted to know which of the three was ”fairest of them all” (notice how this sentence appears as early as Greek mythology). The goddesses have Paris, the prince of Troy decide who was. Hera promised Paris power, Athena promised him wealth and Aphrodite promised him the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris chose Aphrodite and as his reward Aphrodite promised him that Helen (of Troy) would be his wife. Paris left for Sparta and took Helen (some say she went willingly) from Sparta and made her his wife. This was the start of the Trojan War. Three goddesses who wanted to be “fairest of them all” and a mortal man who wanted the most beautiful woman in the world as his bride.
Just so this doesn’t come across as one sided against women, there is one example of male beauty that has become a word in English language. The tale of Narcissus. A huntsman who was so in love with his own beauty that when he discovered his reflection he was unable to move and he eventually died. The word (for those who didn’t get the reference) is narcissism.
Again, there is no shame in treating yourself to a day at the spa and there is no problem in going shopping for nice clothes every once in a while. You have to do what you have to do in order to feel good. Feeling good is a lot better than actually looking good. Sure, it is nice to be complimented on how we look but that shouldn’t be the main concern of the day. To be consumed by vanity is to lead a purposeless life. Beauty comes and goes but our personality is forever. If you feel you are too thin or too fat then, like I said, take up a healthier and more active lifestyle. Just don’t obsess over food and don’t obsess over not losing enough or gaining enough weight in one week. Plastic surgery is almost never the answer. There are specific incidents where it is an option but that’s not for me to say is right or wrong. Do what you want but maybe you ought to take a step back and consider what you’re doing before you have the fat from your ass injected into your lips or getting a rhinoplasty (nose job) just because you want a new one (as opposed to it being broken in an accident). Obsessing over every little detail is what eventually leads to eating disorders and the problem with them is that most of the time you are too far gone before you realize you have a problem. Beauty is both a blessing and a curse, and it is up to us to realize when beauty becomes a real problem.