Thursday, March 29

The Pursuit of Beauty

The spring season is upon us and, despite the expected sprees of cold weather, the days are getting longer, the birds are singing and the daffodils are in blossom. All this idyllic imagery inspires me and reminds me of how artists from the past expressed the vibrant bloom of life that occurs at this time of the year. I am Italian and of course the first picture that comes to mind is La Primavera, the Spring, by Botticelli. From there my mind trail takes me to the Venus - a symposium of eternal, ethereal beauty. In his Symposium, good old Plato identified the keys of ideal beauty in the context of love, attraction and attractiveness. It's a beefy piece of work (especially if you've gotta translate it from ancient Greek..), but it has always stimulated me to consider and reconsider the concept of Beauty. Following my previous post, a number of you have raised the question of what defines beauty - a concept that, despite the apparent homogenization of standards ( ei: everyone aspires to resemble the cover page models from fashion magazines) it's actually as varied as the colours of a cubist painter's pallet! The Italians say, "Il mondo e' bello perche' e' vario", the world is beautiful because it is varied, and thank God for that: it is different tastes and preferences that make life interesting and enables us to establish human contact with people who will like,hate, love us. It always astounds me to see how different cultures perceive a range of physical traits. Like the Brazilians and the Africans who love their women's big buts whilst us Europeans often starve ourselves in fear that our bum may 'look big in this'. Or the Far East Asian fascination for prominent noses and here we are willing to pay anything to have our noses made smaller..go figure! Whatever the circumstances, we all appear to conform by a set of aesthetic standards, whether we would like to confess it or not. My cultural background has imposed onto me from a very young age that I should pursuit to be slim, ideally measuring 90-60-90, the 'perfect' hourglass measurements (think Sofia Loren, Monica Bellucci, Gina Lollobrigida), to look pristine and colour coordinated at all times. In as much as I have always tried to escape from aesthetic compromise, I can't help but feel the pressure. In as much as I accept myself for the person I am and the way I look, I keep on wishing I was better, looked better, sounded better...
Expectations can play a nasty game. In an old article on jealousy I quoted Joseph Addison about how it is the fear of not being reciprocated by the ones we love that makes us insecure. Insecure about ourselves, what we wear, how long is our hair, how firm our butt, how full our lips are and so on..Advertising campaigns do not help either as they make a living out of our insecurities..
But without me rambling on for much longer, what do you think defines beauty? and is there a universally accepted 'ideal beauty'?


Baron Hashbrown said...

As we say here "variety is the spice of life". I don't think any set of features can make someone beautiful because it's not that simple. The way someone moves, talks, smiles, the look in their eye, their personality can be the thing that makes them beautiful. Nose size isn't really important unless all we can see of someone is an expressionless photo.

I did see an interesting TV program about masculinity/femininity where they said this completely depends on the amount of testosterone you receive in the womb. It can apparently be measured by the ratio of your index finger compared to the one next to your pinky. This suggests that ET would be female perfection...

Cayetana Altovoltaje said...

You are more beautiful the closer you get to your own idea of beauty.

Gorilla Bananas said...

You occasionally hear people described as beautiful for reasons other than their appearance. Maybe it should happen more often.

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