I’d like to know who made up the saying “beauty is only skin deep”, so that I can tell them that they’ve got it all wrong. The saying should be “Being considered sexually desirable by most members of the opposite sex is only skin deep”. I guess I can’t fault that person. Somehow the idea of beauty has been condensed down into this one tiny facet of “being widely sexually appealing”. It pervades our culture. But that’s not actually beauty at all. At the very least it’s not beauty in it’s entirety.
It’s a shame though that if I am describing a woman to someone that’s never met her and I say “She is beautiful”, the first and only thing they will think of is her face and form. Beauty is so much more than that to me.
True beauty is like magic.
It exists in some other dimension beyond simple geometry and cultural expectation and bodies that are just flesh and bones. Beauty does not exist in what we see with our eyes, it exists in the soul.
Beauty is why you feel absolutely overcome when you look at a great and starry sky. Beauty is 6 tiny snoring puppies, the way their fat little bellies rise and fall. Beauty is the way a mom’s eyes well up with tears when she looks at her tiny precious child for the first time.
Beauty is not skin deep. Beauty is that thing that reaches into your gut and grabs it so tightly you can’t breathe.
And I think, there is a lot of beauty in individuality. If I google image search “beautiful women” I am quickly bored by seeing the same contoured cheeks and long lashes hovering over seductive eyes and barely parted lips.
If I google image search “human faces”, what I see is a vast array of shapes and angles and colors and combinations, each striking and real and unique and god damn it, beautiful.
Sure, there are biological drives underlying our very nature that we cannot deny. Many men like long hair, not realizing that subconsciously it signals the idea of good health to them. Many women like muscular shoulders, not realizing that subconsciously it signals the idea of safety to them.
But all of that comes down to mating.
That all comes down to the sweaty primal human animal that we are.
And is that really even remotely close to beautiful?
Let me tell you two stories.
One- A man with rugged features meets a woman with long silky hair and perfectly curved hips. They feel mutual sexual attraction and so they have sex. The end.
Two- A man with acne scars has been dating a woman that can’t ever be bothered to put on makeup and is 30 pounds overweight for 5 years now. The man has spent much of his life self-conscious, but he can sometimes glimpse the way she sees him- through a filter of good memories of nights spent together walking by the ocean, of the way she fully trusts him to be honest because that’s the kind of man he is, of how she loves how much he loves his family. And when he looks at her, all he feels is warmth radiating back from her smile. On his own he has always felt cold and neutral, but her joy is contagious and it spreads through him like sunlight. They have come to understand and appreciate each other so well that both have been changed forever.
Which story tugs at you?
Which story makes you happy to be human, to be alive?
It is the one that goes beyond the surface, beyond the animal, beyond the skin.
Because that’s where beauty really is.