Thursday, November 18, 2010

Define Beauty

"Beauty is only skin deep." Is that true? What is beauty? I have no idea what beauty is to everyone, only myself because it is in the eye of the beholder. I know what is beautiful to me, hence the concept of the eye of the beholder thingy. Sometimes I think defining beauty is being able to identify what is unattractive.

I was thinking I could crank out a list of things I think are beautiful, but I can't. Things I think are beautiful are so limited. I appreciate beauty but I also find there are other words which are much more apropos to describe so much. For example, I thought I would say that Sterling roses are beautiful. They are, but I think a better description would be fragile and exquisite. Princess cut diamonds are beautiful, but a better way to say it is sparkly and glamorous. My Wild West landscape is beautiful but a more accurate description would be haunting, picturesque, rolling, lonely.

Love could be considered beautiful. But what is love? Someone once told me his one true love was this statuesque red headed woman. He saw her walking on the boardwalk. She stopped and scooped a dropped bottle for a baby, for a woman who was juggling several unruly children. The redhead did this and then smiled a Mona Lisa smile and floated on her way. She then smiled her smile at him and his heart stopped. She has haunted him forever and he "loves" her. This isn't how we often think of the beauty of love, a small candid moment that passes between 2 strangers. But, I think this is a beautiful story.

Easily we all know things that are not beautiful: flood, famine, disaster, blood, gore... These things are not full of beauty. We can always point our fingers and say "oh, that's so gross" or "that's so ugly." We know what beauty is not. I've always wondered why it's so easy to identify the grotesque.

Poets write about beautiful things like women, weather, flowers, love, babies... Most folks point at fine art or lush gardens as beauty, but beauty is as individual as we are. Who do we find beautiful? I think Charlize Theoron is beautiful in the traditional sense of the word, but there are those who would disagree. I love photography and I think many of Annie Leibovitz photographs are beautiful but I know many who disagree. I have a book of her pictures'; it's a theme coffee table book of women- famous, rich, poor, the common woman, young, old, different races and creeds, with clothes and without. I think this book is full of beautiful photographs. Someone visiting my house once picked it up, flipped through it and called it "lesbian porn." What?!? I feel it's a beautiful compilation of beautiful subjects taken by an amazingly talented photographer while someone else thinks of it as porn...

A friend of mine sent me pictures of himself. I love hands; hand are beautiful and erotic and sensual and sexy and... anyway...! He sent me pictures. I look at these in 2 ways. The erotic turn on part which I'm not talking about here. The other part I will. The pictures he sent are beautiful. Shot close with a sepia setting. The shadows, the light play of sun and darkness. The look on his face, the intensity in his eyes. The angle of his hands, the tilt of his head, the way the camera captured the curl of the hair on his arms, the glint of light on his earring, the tousled hair... I think it's the combination of the way he holds his hands and the look in his eyes and the lighting that reach right into my soul and move me, take my breath away. If it was hanging in a collection of photographs in a museum display, what would we say about the subject? About his hands, his eyes, his expression? He is beautiful, utterly beautiful, in this photograph.

Words can be beautiful. I'm a wordsmith, a lover of words. I love to turn a phrase and enjoy the taste of words on my lips. I love to read descriptions and feel words cascade over me. Some writers can give me the chills and I think that is beauty. I have a sensual bonding with words as an art form and I think this is an unparalleled beauty. Words, simply words which can raise my hackles or stir my heart. Words alone, tied together.... I'm a "writer" so this is a beautiful craft.

My Wild West night skies were (are?) beautiful. The stars punctuate the sky and have this breathtaking splendor that is indescribable. To stand in utter the simple darkness of the night, with no trees, or city lights in the distance, to have nothing but unbroken sky the stretches to the end of the earth and that vast open space is filled with stars. More than saying they look diamonds. These stars in my Wild West sky defy explanation. All I can say is, "it's beautiful."

Beautiful people have filled my life but others often disagree with me. I've had some former Sams who made my GF's question my eyesight. These men are beautiful to me for some reason, for their hearts, their senses of humors, their smiles.... depends on the man, but they aren't jaw dropping handsome/ sexy in the beautiful traditional sense of the word. Then there is me. I don't think I'm a beautiful woman at all. I don't think I'm ugly, but I'm not beautiful. One or two men in my life have said I'm beautiful and whatever they see in me that is beauty is personal to them. Maybe that set a tone or a precedence, but beautiful I'm not. I love that those men told me this and I hold those compliments near and dear to my heart because they didn't say it lightly, or offhandedly. It was said with sincerity. Maybe for that instance I was beautiful. Or maybe I believe them because I want to be beautiful? (Though there was the evil Sam of lore who refused to ever say I was beautiful- it was even a discussion about that I was not beautiful nor stunning; just cute or maybe pretty at times. Jerk.)

And though I am not a beautiful person, I can see beauty and appreciate beauty, but usually in the unusual. Not always in the baby's coo, or the soft rose, or the perfectly sung aria, but in my stars, the photograph of my lover, the pages of books, in hands... I sat and trolled the great wide Internet for a wonderfully famous quote that sums up beauty and nothing is adequate, right, captures how I feel about beauty. I guess "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" will have to do.



Jimmie Earl said...

Just last night, our choir was having trouble with an extremely difficult passage of music. It was full of non-harmonic chords. We struggled for several minutes before we succeeded in getting it correct. When we did, our director paused, smiled at us, and said, "That was beautiful."
Beauty doesn't have to be in the "eyes" of the beholder. It can be in the ears, nose, or taste, or touch. (nothing feels more beautiful that 800 count Egyptian cotton sheets!)
This post of yours was "beautifully" written! Thanks.

Curley said...

You have a beautiful way with words. Sometime I just hate it when I get to the end of your post. I just want to keep reading.

sam said...

Hi Maggie,

I've never thought of myself as beautiful. As a matter of fact, ever since I have gotten so fat, I sometimes look in the mirror and think that I am quite homely. It's funny how everyone sees things differently.

I was curious about beauty quotes so I went looking. I found two that I like.

"Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart” Kahill Gibran


"The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart” Helen Keller

It's odd that my favorites speak of the heart. So I guess that that means since you have a good heart and I have a good heart we both must be beautiful.


Evil Pixie said...

Fantastic post!

Who said you're not beautiful? Whoever did is a friggin' idiot.

Beautiful is a concept that is far too complicated for a lot of people. Because of this, they take the easy approach and only connect the word with the physical.

I can relate to being called "cute" but never beautiful. I hate being called "cute." Cute is for puppies and babies' bums - not grown women. But then you know where I stand when it comes to being told I'm beautiful.