It was only yesterday that I came across a commercial for a popular face wash brand on the television where a 14 year-old girl was seen to be shifting her seat from the back to the front in her class at school as she was not embarrassed because of her pimples anymore. It was through the regular usage of this face wash that her pimples were disappearing. What struck me was that it didn’t occur to the so-called creative minds behind this advertisement that 14 year-old children are at the beginning of their puberty. Adolescents, as they are called, experience a host of changes emotionally, physically, intellectually and sexually at this stage.
This is something that continues till our adulthood and later on as well. I don’t mean the changes the teenager experiences but our mentality gets shaped up in such a way that we tend to judge people based on how they look or what they wear. It has become a spontaneous affair in adults to notice the externalities of a person first and form perceptions according to their judgement. We overlook the behavioural tendencies of a person and deliberately alienate people who do not match up to our criteria of being beautiful. The softness in a person, the inner qualities like goodness, persistence, perseverance, congeniality etc. do not get noticed in the first place.
Our words are mostly judgmental. What truly define the concept of beauty is the words that we use. The way we talk, the range of our tone and usage of words exhibits the person in us. Just as King Solomon, the wisest man who ever walked on Earth says, “Our words should be like Apples of Gold in Setting of Silver,” our concept of beauty should also exceed the likes of materialism.
During my internship, many years ago, I visited the visually impaired school of Ramakrishna Mission in Kolkata. Although I don’t remember many details, one small incident taught me a new meaning of the word “beauty”. As I interacted with the students, there was a young girl, visually impaired, who just wanted to sit with me all the time. She held my hand, touched my face and said, “You are beautiful.”
That day I understood the meaning of BEAUTY through the little girl’s eyes. As Plato quotes, “Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder”; the eye here, is actually the eye of the soul. Beauty is not just a visual medium but can also be auditory, tactual and olfactory. It symbolizes a sense of morality and honesty. It is possible that the little girl equated her definition of “beauty” to someone treating her well, giving her time and space, and making her comfortable.
Similar situations arise in all of our lives. We all appreciate “beauty” but end up limiting our ability to perceive it. We meet different sets of people not knowing what they are going through, and we know how to react to each one of them. But often, we miss out finding the beauty within them and within us too.
You may ask, “Where is the beauty in pain?” But ironically, pain often brings beauty; for instance, a mother, out of pain, delivers a beautiful baby, out of a painful loss, there is an awareness of the beautiful person or time spent with him or her and the beautiful life, out of painful struggle emerges a beautiful poem. Hence, there is beauty in our interconnection as human beings.
Beauty is in our lives if we stop comparing with others, especially our outward appearance. People might pull you down on that matter, however, let us remember- we all are beautiful in God’s eyes who created us and said, “…Behold, it was very good…”
Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, was renowned throughout history for her radiant skin and her stunning beauty. It is said that she used to bathe in donkeys’ milk to keep her skin soft and beautiful. Legend has it that she required 700 lactating donkeys in order to supply the milk for her daily baths. Even today, beauticians recommend milk along with other herbs to help keep the skin supple and glowing. (This, at a time when we have high rates of malnutrition and under-five deaths in our country!) The markets are flooded with fairness creams, gels, scrubs, weight-loss supplements, and what not. And mind you, these are not meant only for the face to look good…the prescriptions are for uplifting the entire body image! Well, there’s no harm in looking good. It’s the mindless obsession after physical beauty that’s worrisome. Many young girls lose their lives every day (yes everyday!!) due to a condition called Anorexia Nervosa, which is an eating disorder that arises from an obsession to be slim and beautiful. The words ‘beauty’ and ‘beautiful’ are so obsessively used to refer to physical appearance that their precious meaning is lost in oblivion. We as a people sure need to rise above the beauty of the skin and the body.
Sir Thomas Overbury once remarked, “Beauty is only skin deep.” There is more to life than merely the beauty of the skin!