Thursday, October 25, 2007

Beauty is a sham!

“Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”, we have all been hearing it since ages, haven’t we? I have too, but then I ask myself, “If beauty is in the eyes of the beholder then what the hell are all those beauty contests for?”
I used to watch as many of the beauty contests as I could. I still wouldn’t mind watching if I knew beforehand of the schedule. But I wouldn’t because I don’t read, watch or listen to the news.
There have been times when the judges have selected a beauty queen and I have said, “Well-deserved!” (Like Sushmita Sen winning Miss Universe), but there have always been times, when I have screamed, “Are you bloody kidding me!?” (No, I don’t say “bloody” that’s more of a British word and I have recently moved to Britain, but the word I was going to use is not so nice. Anyway…)
So you can say that since my idea of beauty differs from those judges, it really is in the eyes of the beholder. Are you sure?
There are common ideas of beauty, as a group of people or society at large would agree to what is beautiful and what not. That same group of people might agree on a 100 people and yet may have dissent about others.
Or, you could meet a girl you don’t find attractive at all but who is somebody’s girlfriend or somebody’s wife, the apple of their eye, the prized possession or whatever..(ack! The inscription on the knife in my back reads “Women’s Lib”). And you do see the kind of guys or girls who look to you like nobody can find them beautiful by any stretch of imagination and yet….for example I think Julia Roberts is ugly, but her fans would want to kill me a slow and painful death just for saying that. There is a quote that I read recently, it says “ the right light, from the right point of view, in the right situation, everything is beautiful…”, something like that.
So what’s the deal here? Is it in the eyes of the beholder or is it something that can be defined?
I have been thinking about it lately, quite a lot, and I have come to the conclusion that leaving apart the extreme cases of individual preferences beauty is largely defined by society. Beauty is what a certain ratio of the population may possess. It has to be a group not so small that almost nobody has it, but it has to be something that not everybody has it. Let me take an example.
Big breasts are considered sexy and something to have, so much so that surgery and money come into play. But if all the women in the world had big breasts, it wouldn’t be sexy. If only a few hundred women in the world had big breasts, it wouldn’t be sexy. It’s something that’s possible to see in a man’s lifetime, but something that’s not common - that’s beauty!
I will take two examples to illustrate my point.
My friend N in Germany, has a preference of brunettes, dark-haired girls. I can’t understand why because I think blondes are so sexy! But, he argues, Germany is full of blondes, brunettes he doesn’t see so often. On the other hand, India is full of brunettes almost exclusively, and blondes….not really. Hence my fascination.
Second point is from a story I read in high school - Country of the Blind. Don’t ask me who wrote it, I am too old to remember that now. One peculiar thing that I never forget about that story is that the hero, who is the only person with eyes and a stranger in that land, falls in love with a pretty girl who is considered ugly in that society. The barometer of beauty in that land of the blind is skin. Yes, the smoother the skin of the girl, the more beautiful she is considered. I don’t remember the story in its entirety and I doubt that it has any statistics but I will give you even odds that smooth skin was something not every girl had in that country.
Beauty, as per my arguments, is nothing more than a statistically selected group of features, a standard defined by the society and thus, is completely worthless!
So, do you agree or do you want to cross swords with me on this one?

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