© 31 Jul 2012 Luther Tychonievich
Licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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Various kinds of beauty.


In the airplane this afternoon my attention was drawn to two beautiful women. From my days as an aspiring illustrator I have a tendency to analyze faces, and as I considered these two I found myself wondering how many people would find both attractive.

One of these women was beautiful in the advertiser’s daydream sense of the word. Her face was symmetrical and smooth, with the tertiary traits currently in vogue: a smallish straight nose, large eyelashes, flat forehead, narrow eyebrows, etc. She had just enough weight to conceal individual bones and perfectly smooth skin of even hue tastefully augmented with makeup. She wore high-end clothing in in an individualized way, moved gracefully, spoke gracefully; even her belongings, such of them as I saw, complimented the overall image.

The other woman was of a different sort altogether. Her features were even and healthy, but not the sort currently in vogue. Her eyes were large and lightly-lashed, her forehead curved back sharply, and her nose was large and round. She had acne and, though young, creases at the corner of her eyes and on her brow. She wore no makeup, her hair was brushed but not groomed, her clothing was cheep, ill-fitting, and clashed. Her beauty was more personal: when she smiled she exuded joy, when she listened she appeared engrossed, when she spoke it was as if she could barely contain the pleasure of giving someone else her wit.

Beauty is a concept I do not fully understand. I’ve seen people with the same level of personal exuberance noted above whom I found very off-putting rather than delightful to observe. I know people who have asymmetric and otherwise anomalous features who everyone seems to treat the same as the more traditionally statuesque I’ve never had the nerve to ask one of them “‍why are you beautiful?‍” I wonder if they know. .

I have found that beauty is a difficult subject to discuss. Females are conditioned to link beauty to self-worth and men are conditioned to link it to desirable life partner. I have found it almost impossible to work around these conditionings and discuss the aesthetics of the appearance of people.

Perhaps I need to hang out with more artists.

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