Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Our Quest for Beauty

The other day I was watching "Taboo" and it was talking about the lengths and extremes women were going to do become, "beautiful."  Some were putting their very lives at risk to achieve their idea of "beautiful."
I was deeply saddened by the extremes these already beautiful women were taking to achieve the impossible.

As a youth I wanted to fit the media's mold of beautiful.  But try as I could I just could never measure up.
I have never had a desire to wear makeup and to this day I have never had any makeup applied to my face.
For one brief moment I tried mascara and eye shadow but kept sticking myself in the eye so it all went into the trash.
After my brother passed I went and had some glamour photos taken thinking they would cheer me up.  The make up person caked the make up on my face and as fast as she was putting it on I was scraping it off.
In the end the pictures were taken with no makeup and nothing extra done to my hair.
I must admit the pictures turned out very nicely.  I have had numerous compliments on those pictures.
I fried my hair trying to achieve the perfect look.  It has taken me years to get my hair to a healthy sheen.   No gels, sprays, curling iron or blow dryer have touched my hair in years, yet I get compliments on the beauty of my hair.  All I do is wash and go.
For many years I tried to achieve the "perfect" weight and all I got in return was feeling sick and unhealthy.  Now I am a middle aged pleasantly plump woman who is trying to lose some weight the realistic way.
No more yo yo crash diets for this girl and you know what I do feel healthy and have energy.

In 2003 I wrote an essay called "Our Quest for Beauty" I would like to share with you some of my insights I discovered while researching for that assignment:

One of my favorite songs is a hymn titled, "There is Beauty All Around."  At an early age I had been taught three important lessons concerning beauty:

 Lesson One:  "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there is more to beauty than what meets the eye."
Lesson Two:  "Inner beauty, which everyone possesses is the most important beauty of all
Lesson Three:  Your inner beauty will shine through and create your outer beauty."

Author Ann Symonds in her article "Our Perfect Bodies " made this comment, "Beauty is everywhere if we just look for it."  She goes on to describe an encounter she had with an acquaintance of hers [who] by classical standards had a nose which was to wide, a flat face and a sallow complexion...but when she spoke--everything changed.  Her face lit up and she released a radiant energy...she exudes beauty in a way others who achieved mere physical perfection rarely do."
Sadly, our inner beauty seems to be the illusive phantom in our society's vision of "ideal beauty."
All one has to do is to turn on your television, flip though a magazine or just drive down the road and you will find yourself bombarded with images of society's models of "ideal beauty."
According to About-Face organization, "400-600 advertisements bombard us everyday in magazines, billboards, TV ads and newspapers.  One in eleven has a direct message about beauty, not even counting the indirect messages." (Something Fishy website)

One prime example that popped into my mind was the Victoria Secret advertisements.
Their models are portrayed as the ultimate sexual predators.  They are long legged and sensuous, (one 20 year old paid thousands of dollars to have her legs broke and re-pinned and stretched, just so they would give her a couple more inches of height; so she would be "beautiful.")
They have the sultry bedroom eyes, (12 years old's and younger are getting face jobs, eyes, noses, lips, so they will have the "perfect" face)
and long flowing hair.  They have every physical attribute that men fantasize about. (Sadly, fantasy and reality don't mix)
With campaigns like theirs it is no surprise that our society balks at the notion of women having a beauty that runs deeper than the skin.

Psychologist Harold A Frost made this statement,
"Women learn early and from diverse sources their family, television, movies and the fashion industry the message that appearance is of supreme importance and that dedicating oneself to the external being guarantees love, happiness and respect.
Unfortunately, the messenger does not tell us that instead of love, happiness, or respect, we find ourselves depressed, isolated and very self absorbed."
Mr. Frost then shared this sad truth a Registered Nurse and a single mother of three found when she tried to achieve the ideal beauty:

"If I could lose a few pounds, she reasoned I'd be happy, relaxed and  energetic; I would be a better mom.
(Instead) she became obsessed with food and dieting and increasingly depressed and isolated from her friends and co-workers.
She found herself losing her temper with her children and becoming less sensitive to their needs and

"Flawless beauties also have flaws, they have simply been airbrushed or touched up.  It is amazing what lighting can show or hide.  Thanks to imaginative lighting and well chosen poses, actress's and models appear perfect, endowed with abundant cleavage, narrow waists, slightly curved hips and smooth skin.
My friend Mary shared this bit of information with me, "Duct tape is not just for furniture anymore.
Many models wrap it below their cleavage to give their attributes a little extra lift."

A psychological study in 1995 found that women who spent three minutes looking at a fashion magazine caused 70% to feel depressed, guilty and shameful.

A recovering eating disorder victim wrote, "Look at the women's magazines!...Women are programmed to be concerned with external glamour.  It is no wonder women are starving themselves, getting silicone implants to increase their cleavage and paying plastic surgeons thousands and thousands of dollars.  One is left to wonder why only physical attributes define our beauty and her inner beauty is scorned?"

(Taboo interviewed a woman who had cleavage the size of a basketball and she wanted to go bigger even though her enhancements were killing her.
She just could not bear the thought of returning to her natural size.)

Jane Blackwell, head of the Eating Disorders Clinic in Salt Lake City made this observation:

"People are not built the same and can't look the same, but we act as if they should.
We criticize how we look in front of others.
We let boys comment about hating fat girls.
Why doe we comment about other people?
Are we supposed to be works of art to entertain each other as we walk along?
Not everyone is going to look alike.
Not everyone is going to be svelte."

(Elder Holland gave a really good talk addressing criticisms and our unruly tongue.
Really got me to thinking.)

Psychologist Kennith I. Paragament quoted Cushman,

"Culture, which once "completed" people, now leaves many with "empty selves."

Sadly our external beauty is so very fleeting.  Once Father Time gets  his hands upon us there is no amount of surgery which can recapture our vibrant youth, but if we focus on our inner beauty Father Time enhances that beauty.

Elder Neal A Maxwell made this observant comment,

"Think for a moment how different it would be if people took on that physical appearance which would reflect distinctly how well they are doing spiritually...Under such telling circumstances--when the outer person reflected the inner person--whom would we applaud?
And who would really deserve our pity?"

In your quest for beauty, I hope that you take time to see that "beauty comes in many shapes and sizes.  But perhaps most important it comes from within."

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