At times we might look at a person and admire their physical appearance, but as soon as they start talking we might start to find that person unattractive. Why is this? Why is it that despite their physical appearance we are taken aback by their words? Perhaps it is because “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? And what does that quote mean?
This ancient Greek saying is expressing subjectivity in beauty. Since who are we to really set up what is and what is not beautiful? Are there really certain rules we must follow in order to be beautiful? Can the mind be attractive as well?
Being attractive is more than just looks. People are naturally drawn to confidence and personality. Our mind works like a magnet. A study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison made students in a classroom pick other students that looked physically attractive. As the semester progressed the study showed those students who did less work were found as less attractive than at the beginning of the semester.
Ancient philosophers like Plato would speak about the beauty of the mind, and how is it possible to fall in love with it.
“After this, he should regard the beauty of minds as more valuable than that of the body, so that, if someone has goodness of mind even if he has little of the bloom of beauty, he will content with him, and will love and care for him, and give birth to the kinds of discourse that help young men to become better” wrote Plato in The Symposium.
In other words, what the excerpt above suggests is that, once you find someone with a beautiful mind, his or her appearance is of no relevance. A great example of this is Pablo Picasso. Picasso had a total of 7 “muses” or lovers. He had two wives and four children by three women. Although Picasso wasn’t a Zac Efron or a Channing Tatum, Pablo Picasso did have a brilliant mind. Not only was he known as one of the fathers of cubism but also his art had great messages. Picasso’s piece “Guernica” which depicted the atrocities of the Spanish Civil war sent a great message of peace.
People like Picasso, have something that attracts us. Plato talked about knowledge in the allegory of the cave where a person spent most of his life in a cave. This person was tied to a chair and was forced to watch the shadows. After watching the shadows for so long and believing the shadows to be the ultimate truth, this person was released, to the station where people made the shadows. His eyes burned, but he got used to it, and he began making shadows for the people that were tied down. When this person got extremely good at making shadows he was sent out of the cave. Where he saw the light, the trees, and the water, which Plato would represent as the truth. But how does this relate to the truth?
The allegory itself talks about a society living in a cave, watching shadows, which can be things that distract the mind until someone opens up his/her mind, and begins to break free from the norms of society. That’s what Plato meant by the truth. Thus saying we can’t just see someone’s physical appearance and say they are beautiful until we really get to know the truth (who they are).
Another case that I see in daily life is that of singers. People are attracted to the ideas these individuals interpret through their music and lyrics. People relate so well to the situation the singer is portraying and they are immediately attracted to it. A vivid case of this example could be the salsa singer Marc Anthony who sings about love and even though according to the media he might not be qualified as one of the most physically attractive men in the world, he has the charisma and personality people are attracted to.
Therefore let us not be blinded in this world full of physical appearances, especially in the case of women. Throughout the years, people have set standards of beauty. Before 1915 it was okay for women to not shave their armpits until a fashion magazine named “ Harper’s Bazaar” came up with an ad depicting a woman with no armpit hair. Although not shaving armpit hair has many benefits like softer skin and fewer irritation women today still shave their armpits. A person shouldn’t be judged by his or her looks but rather for who they are.
In the words of Dr. Seuss “Today, you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”.
With that being said, I think it is upon us to feed the mind. To see the beauty beyond takes time, but is not impossible. One is beautiful by the way he or she is, one just needs to expand the mind, and the right person will come along.