Author Topic: Not everyone is beautiful  (Read 3141 times)

The Right Reverend Nigel

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Not everyone is beautiful
« on: October 20, 2012, 04:36:39 pm »
It seems like the default for fat-acceptance, for body-image issues, is to fall back on the idea that everyone is beautiful in their own special way.

I am starting to think that I have a problem with this.

The problem that I have is not that it's a blatant lie that relies on redefining the word "beauty" into something vaguely spiritual and pretty much altogether hippy-dippy, but that it still allows "beauty" to be a value judgement.

This is not just a women's issue, but to be honest, it is more of an issue for women than for men. If we don't like a woman's ideas, we may make fun of her appearance. If we love a woman's ideas but not her appearance, we may say that she's "beautiful on the inside" or that we "don't notice her looks" once we get to know her. People who are physically unattractive are pressured to compensate; men, by being smart or funny or wealthy, and women, by being nice. By being "pretty on the inside". Fat women are encouraged to feel "beautiful at any size". We all know that "she's got a great personality" is code for "ugly".

Here's the thing. Idealistic redefinitions aside, we aren't all beautiful, and those of us who do happen to be beautiful aren't going to stay that way. So what's the point of pretending that we are, in order to continue to attach value, actual human value, to something that is not actually all that important in the first place? It just reinforces our inner belief that our worth is connected to our appearance, and therefore our inner despair in the parts of us that recognize the lie. It's like telling a child he's smart when he knows damn well that he's not... it does nothing but rip down the self-esteem that he should be building up in other ways, building his sense of human worth by focusing on strengths he actually DOES have. So he may not be the sharpest hoe in the garden... but he sticks with things, works hard at problems, and isn't afraid to fail. So praise him for those strengths, so he can develop and take pride in them. And suppose a little girl isn't pretty... but she's analytical and spots details other people miss. Praise her for that. Praise her for being generous, kind, tough, persistent, clever, a good writer, for having a diversity of interests, for being athletic or good at research, but don't do her the disservice of both lying to her face and minimizing her true human value by telling her that she's "beautiful".
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
― Assata Shaku

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Re: Not everyone is beautiful
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2012, 05:18:51 pm »
No one is beautiful. Beautiful is an opinion. If you put stock in how other people think you look then, unless you're an exceedingly rare looking individual, you're in for a world of pain and, even if you are that odd lucky fucker who won the genetic lottery, like you so rightly point out, you're going to be an ugly old fuck soon enough. Even uglier if you try to fight the tide and end up paying for some surgeon to speed the process along by temporarily knocking a couple of years off. That shit never ends well.

Fat/skinny/fit, tho is something you can do something about if you care enough. You weigh 800lbs and are happy with that then, believe it or not, I got a whole lot of respect for you but if you're three stone overweight, with the muscle density of a jellyfish, constantly whining about how it's not your fault and people like me are "lucky", between mouthfuls of cheeseburger, washed down with diet coke and a hours nap then fuck you, you're weak and you deserve to look and feel as bad as you do.

FTR: I used to be a real good looking boy, now I'm old and ugly as shit and I actually prefer it - suits my personality much better than the pretty-boy thing ever did.

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Re: Not everyone is beautiful
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2012, 05:47:53 pm »
What I like about the OP is how it illustrates the way in which one can, by attempting to deny the value of attractiveness ("you're attractive on the inside" etc) one actually ends up reaffirming the value of looks.  It's almost Zizekian.
"The thoughts of all men arise from the darkness. If you are the movement of your soul, and the cause of that movement precedes you, then how could you ever call your thoughts your own? How could you be anything other than a slave to the darkness that comes before? Only the Logos allows one to mitigate that slavery. Only knowing the sources of thought and action allows us to own our thoughts and our actions, to throw off the yoke of circumstance."
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Re: Not everyone is beautiful
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2012, 06:26:31 pm »
I'm going to disagree to a degree.  We've all met beautiful people whose personality spoils their looks, for example.  You start noticing every little flaw, and instead of accentuating those looks, the flaws detract from them.

Conversely - and here's where the qualification is - you can take someone that's really hideous, but is also genuinely nice, and you stop noticing the ugly.  They won't be "beautiful", but they're no longer repellent.  Of course, there are people who are repellent in looks AND personality, just as there are people who are beautiful in each regard.

But here's the thing:  As you say, nobody stays beautiful forever.  And when the looks fade away, the person is left with their personality...And if the person has relied on looks to overcome a terrible personality (or lack of personality), they're fucked.  Kirsty MacColl wrote a great song about this (What Do Pretty Girls Do track 9 or 10 on the album Kite)...Whereas people who are beautiful on the inside still have a measure of beauty to them.
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Re: Not everyone is beautiful
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2012, 06:31:48 pm »
I AM going to agree whole-heartedly with the last paragraph, by the way.  Being praised for accomplishments, skills, and personality is ALWAYS better than being praised for looks, no matter WHAT you look like.

Also:  The Talmud states that all brides are beautiful on their wedding day as a matter of religious law.  This allows people to praise an ugly bride for her looks without lying, and also assures the bride that she IS, in fact, beautiful...Even just for that one day.  Which I think is pretty neat.
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Re: Not everyone is beautiful
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2012, 07:33:37 pm »
The problem I have always had with "you're beautiful in your own way" or "beautiful on the inside" is not only that it reinforces the cultural standard of 'beauty' that is force fed to us, but also, especially for women, it reinforces 'beautiful' as the ultimate standard. Which is crap. I'd rather be told I'm intelligent, articulate, passionate... a million other things aside from beautiful. Because beauty -- true beauty, not the willowy-and-skinny-but-decent-tits-and-good-muscle-tone image of western beauty, is subjective, as P3nt said.

Also, Nigel, I just wanna give a big ol' hallelujah to the last paragraph.
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Re: Not everyone is beautiful
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2012, 07:36:55 pm »
Wouldn't this thread be better served if we defined beauty first, and then got into an argument?

I mean, I kinda disagree with the OP in some respects, but I get the feeling that I'm doing so through a different definition of beauty than what is being used.....
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Re: Not everyone is beautiful
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2012, 07:44:19 pm »
I AM going to agree whole-heartedly with the last paragraph, by the way.  Being praised for accomplishments, skills, and personality is ALWAYS better than being praised for looks, no matter WHAT you look like.

Being praised for something that you didn't do is always bullshit. How you ended up looking after your DNA did it's thing is the ultimate expression of this.

On the other hand, it should be noted that there really is no avoiding it. It's part of base sexual attraction. Fitness to reproduce, etc. It's hardwired. The peacock with the shiniest tail feathers gets all the pea-pussy. There are people, really nice people, who are so hideous I couldn't get it up to fuck them, even if I wanted to. Likewise, tho, there are people who are so breathtakingly stunning I get an instant boner just looking at them, right up until they open their mouths, then it's a case of "no cock for you dear".
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Re: Not everyone is beautiful
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2012, 07:45:37 pm »
What I like about the OP is how it illustrates the way in which one can, by attempting to deny the value of attractiveness ("you're attractive on the inside" etc) one actually ends up reaffirming the value of looks.  It's almost Zizekian.

Thanks, Cain!
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
― Assata Shaku

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Re: Not everyone is beautiful
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2012, 07:48:34 pm »
I'm going to disagree to a degree.  We've all met beautiful people whose personality spoils their looks, for example.  You start noticing every little flaw, and instead of accentuating those looks, the flaws detract from them.

Conversely - and here's where the qualification is - you can take someone that's really hideous, but is also genuinely nice, and you stop noticing the ugly.  They won't be "beautiful", but they're no longer repellent.  Of course, there are people who are repellent in looks AND personality, just as there are people who are beautiful in each regard.

But here's the thing:  As you say, nobody stays beautiful forever.  And when the looks fade away, the person is left with their personality...And if the person has relied on looks to overcome a terrible personality (or lack of personality), they're fucked.  Kirsty MacColl wrote a great song about this (What Do Pretty Girls Do track 9 or 10 on the album Kite)...Whereas people who are beautiful on the inside still have a measure of beauty to them.

I think the thing to keep in mind is that the definition of "beautiful" is so muddy that it's easy to conflate "beautiful" and "attractive". A beautiful person can become very unattractive because of their personality, and an ugly person can become extremely attractive on the same basis.

And of course, when we love someone we tend to see - physically see, with our eyes and our love-enhanced brains - things about them that we find beautiful, and not so much things we find ugly.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
― Assata Shaku

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Re: Not everyone is beautiful
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2012, 07:49:12 pm »
It's important to distinguish between the standards of beauty that we all have collectively agreed on and the way that some people make out little monkey brains fire up.

One can and does feed into the other, but there is an important difference. I'm attracted to all kinds of weird looking people, people who would never, ever, ever be on any kind of magazine other than BEARS Monthly.

The kind of beauty that sets a standard that celebrities hold so proudly is part of a whole THING with people that is somewhat separate from people you want to bang, though they come roughly from the same place in the human brain.

It's the way people will always brush their hair. They do it because looking unkempt is bad for reproductive business, it looks like you don't give a good god damn. This is also why hippies are forced to produce offspring with their own kind.

That standard of beauty is what I think the OP is talking about. I think.

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Re: Not everyone is beautiful
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2012, 08:13:51 pm »
Wouldn't this thread be better served if we defined beauty first, and then got into an argument?

I mean, I kinda disagree with the OP in some respects, but I get the feeling that I'm doing so through a different definition of beauty than what is being used.....

I'm talking about the current Western standard of physical beauty.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
― Assata Shaku

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Re: Not everyone is beautiful
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2012, 08:15:06 pm »
It's important to distinguish between the standards of beauty that we all have collectively agreed on and the way that some people make out little monkey brains fire up.

One can and does feed into the other, but there is an important difference. I'm attracted to all kinds of weird looking people, people who would never, ever, ever be on any kind of magazine other than BEARS Monthly.

The kind of beauty that sets a standard that celebrities hold so proudly is part of a whole THING with people that is somewhat separate from people you want to bang, though they come roughly from the same place in the human brain.

It's the way people will always brush their hair. They do it because looking unkempt is bad for reproductive business, it looks like you don't give a good god damn. This is also why hippies are forced to produce offspring with their own kind.

That standard of beauty is what I think the OP is talking about. I think.

Yes. The one that we tend to leverage as judgement in this society.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
― Assata Shaku

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Re: Not everyone is beautiful
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2012, 08:27:15 pm »
So there's the two elements. The aesthetic - purely personal. Your "type". Then there's the biological, facial symmetry*, size of eyes, rippling pecs, whatever.

*I'm sure I heard somewhere this theory has been discredited but I'd be surprised if there wasn't  some kind of metric going on aroud there. Making the lizard want to fertilize some eggs.
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Re: Not everyone is beautiful
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2012, 08:31:51 pm »
Here is a thought; the value of beauty is connected to the value of reproduction. So, then, when we use beauty as a value judgement, are we also reinforcing the thought that a person's value, particularly a woman's value, lies in her reproductive desirability? Not to downplay the importance of reproduction, as it is one of our basic and essential drives, but society itself, the reason for which our large brains exist, creates many opportunities for survival value to be expressed indirectly, by contributing to the survival of the clan... and that ties back full-circle to the reason society exists. So why should we decide, culturally speaking, that beauty should be the ultimate value judgement for women? I don't think it's for biological reasons, especially since the assessment of physical beauty is a changing and culturally dependent variable.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
― Assata Shaku