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Posts Tagged ‘culture’

I’ve not seen the movie Shallow Hal. After seeing the trailer I calculated the cost-to-benefit ratio of having my¬† values validated while forcing myself to endure a thousand and one fat gags from the likes of Jason Alexander and Jack Black. The math didn’t work for me, so I skipped it. The story, I hear, is all about fixing the eye of the beholder.

(Or is it making fun of fat people? Or maybe how funny it might be to watch Gwynneth Paltrow act like a fat person… I don’t know…okay, I’m a little bitter)

Here’s a You Tuber’s version of a the lessons of Shallow Hal:

When it comes to personal beauty, we too often lose our way.

We reduce beauty down to its visual elements: hair, teeth, skin, boobs, legs, butt.

We objectify beauty, separating it from the soul, leaving us with mere image.

We rank and compare beauty, as if there could be a MOST beautiful anything.

We infuse beauty with power and then use it as currency.

We’ve sold beauty to the highest bidder.

Just because the price is high, doesn’t make it any less cheap.

We need a new way of seeing.

Human beauty is a gestalt – a magic combination of spirit, soul, and body. Beauty is a presence, an essense, a scent of the divine in the flesh. Mirrors can’t capture beauty.

One day as I stood before the mirror, frowning, my husband pulled me away and said, you’ll never see what I see in that mirror. A mirror can never reflect what happens when your spirit shows. When you’re being yourself, your beauty comes out and radiates something beautiful. You need a better set of mirrors.

I need a better pair of glasses.

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I’ve spent the better part of four days observing the phenomenon of beauty, wondering whether to start a thoughtful series on the subject. Then I turn to Karen over at Cheerio Road and she’s already there with an encouraging word and a couple of great videos to share. It must be a sign, I think. So here goes.

I’ve become a rabid fan of Stephen White, writer of some pretty great psychological/crime fiction. His main character is a psychologist in private practice in Boulder. This is a treat because I get to peek at the therapeutic challenges of another practitioner, as well as follow his adventures in one of my favorite places in the world, the People’s Republic of Boulder. I’ve now read my library’s entire collection of Stephen White, which is sadly short of what’s required.

It’s Stephen White that got me started thinking about beauty, while reading his 2004 bestseller, Blinded. Here’s how one of his characters describes another character named Gibbs Storey, in several passages:

Gibbs Storey was gorgeous, okay? I mean make-me-nervous, shift-my-weight, avert-my-eyes kind of gorgeous. The girls-guys-like-me-don’t-even-get-to-talk-to kind of gorgeous.

Not pretty.

Gibbs was movie-star stuff.

If she hadn’t been so pretty, or maybe if I had just been constitutionally more adept at being around someone so pretty, I might not have blurted out what I blurted out next. But she was, and I wasn’t.

then later:

What I didn’t say was, “My God, woman, your options are limitless. I know twenty men who would bow down and lick clean the ground you walk on.”

I took a moment to look away from her and give myself a pep talk. I told myself that I could look her in the eye and not be weakened by her beauty. That my resolve wouldn’t dissolve in her loveliness.

When I looked back up at her, I was pretty sure that I’d been wrong.

White weaves the theme of female beauty throughout this novel in a way that rubs the sore spot on the psyche of many an unresolved high school wannabe. It made me cranky, I admit.

The sheer power of a certain kind of feminine beauty, as described here, is stunning to me. What can it mean, I wonder? Beyond the obvious factors: our sex-infused culture, the media, inadequately socialized boys, improperly socialized girls?

What does it mean? What does it represent?

I’ll be wondering this all week. Stay tuned.

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