“Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”

In Japan, people would look at me and gasp “Kirre!” “SagoiI!” “Chiisai!” (translation: “Beautiful! Wow! Small!”) as they motioned a small circle with their hands and touched the skin on their face. This was followed by broken English “Small head.” “Beeeeaaauuutiful.” The Japanese love small heads and are obsessed with pale skin – the mirror opposite of Hollywood’s chocolate lollypops with big heads and tanned bodies. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

What makes a person ‘beautiful’?

Is it their body shape: Thin? Curvy? Toned? Tall?

Their facial structure: Symmetrical? Angular jaw? High cheekbones?

Their eyes? Their smile? Their skin color and complexion?

Hair-style? Fashion sense? Grooming?

Or is it their personality? Their confidence? Sex appeal?

When you think about it, it’s really a combination of all of the above, and much more. And it changes – all the time!

I find it interesting to think about how our ideals of beauty and where they came from. Greeks and Romans praised and sculptured tall, muscular, long-legged men with a full head of thick hair, and a high wide forehead (a sign of intelligence), wide-set eyes, a strong brow, a perfect shaped nose, good profile, a smaller mouth, and a strong jaw line. The definition of a beautiful man doesn’t seem to have changed much.

Feminine beauty on the other hand seems to constantly change. From premodern times where large was beautiful (a sign of wealth), to the sylph-like early Victorian woman and later the Victorian hourglass, to the table tennis 20th century bouncing from voluptuous Marilyn Monroes to ‘boyish’ Twiggys, Glamazons to Kate Mosses, to the Hollywood over-toned bodies to alien-eyed stick-figure fashion models, and now it seems to depend on the mood of magazine editors when they decide the week’s headlines.

“It’s not what’s on the outside, but what’s the inside that counts.”

I do believe this. However I also think there is an intrinsic connection between what is seen on the outside and what is on the inside. I’m not saying just cause someone is beautiful on the outside means they are beautiful on the inside, however I do think that the connection between our outer appearance and our inner self is inseparable and important. We are happy when we look good and when we look good we feel happy – and a happy person is a desirable lover and a desirable friend.

When we are happy, a light shines from our eyes, our skin glows, we smile naturally, we stand taller, walk with confidence and radiate a positive energy. When we’re not happy, our eyes look downward, our face tenses up, and we slouch, and our mind is distracted and anywhere but the present. It is amazing how much your posture and facial expression reflect your state of happiness, and it’s even more amazing what a difference posture and facial expression make to your appearance. Next time you look at models in a photo or on the catwalk, look at the posture and the eyes. These two things models learn to control, and it is these that are the key to a good walk and a good photo.

Apparently there is a new form of discrimination called “lookism” – the better looking you are, the easier it is to get a job, get a raise, etc. It’s probably true – we are judged on our looks right from job interviews or sometimes even job applications (in Japan you send your photo with your resume). I read somewhere that more attractive criminals even get let off with lighter sentences than less attractive ones – it wouldn’t surprise me – no one, not even a judge, can resist a pretty face.

I truly believe everyone is beautiful, and actually I think anyone could be a model if they wanted to. Heck, if I could do it, anyone can… You may not think you are beautiful, but let me tell you something – you are. That’s my little bit of encouragement for those that have the self esteem I once had. I realize now that it’s up to each of us to find our inner and outer beauty – then to bring it out and let it shine.

I think the key to beauty is to feel good. If you don’t feel good, then figure out what will make you feel good, and do it. Take time to figure out who you are and who you want to be. Look at your appearance – does it reflect who you are? Is the person in the mirror who you want to be? If not, then it’s time to change. The major deterrent to becoming beautiful is the poor self-images we have of ourselves.

Grooming, lifestyle, food habits, sleeping habits, fashion, hair, and makeup – are all an indirect reflection of how someone feels inside. People that love themselves love their bodies and look after them: from eating right to exercising, to the little details of hair, nails and skin care. Sure, some things we are born with and can’t change, like our height and cheekbones – although even these things we can improve on with posture improvement and some facial exercises (a model once assured me chewing gum builds up facial muscles in the right places!)

Ok, that’s enough of my rant on beauty. I have so many pieces of writing laying about on my computer that I’m trying to pick one and edit it and post it… this website is a good way to reflect, and get my files organized. And if it is interesting to other people to read, then it’s a bonus. J


Photo: self-portrait