Beauty – and the beast

Beauty and the Beast (1992 film)
Beauty and the Beast (1992 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Modern society has something of a fixation with beauty. This has led to such bizarre things as “boob jobs” or cosmetic breast enhancements. Other women inject toxins like “Botox” into various parts of their anatomy to firm them up.

Whole magazine shelves are devoted to “beauty” magazines, and in recent times, they have been augmented by rows of magazines devoted to exercise. TV “infomercials” extol the virtues of this or that exercise machine for men or women, designed to perform miracles on a person’s shape for as little as 10 minutes exercise per day.


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Somewhere there may be someone who is happy with their weight and body shape, but I doubt it. I know that I am not completely happy with mine, but I don’t obsess over it. Some people turn around it and strive in the opposite direction from the mean and try to become, say the heaviest man in the world.

None of this artificiality is beauty. If one measures a beautiful woman for example, one will probably find that the statistics of her measurements are well removed from the average. Miss Beautiful Woman 2015 is way down the bell curve in many ways.

English: Angelina Jolie at the 2010 Comic Con ...
English: Angelina Jolie at the 2010 Comic Con in San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Angeline Jolie, considered to be a beautiful woman, says:

I don’t see myself as beautiful, because I can see a lot of flaws. People have really odd opinions. They tell me I’m skinny, as if that’s supposed to make me happy.

If Jolie is not 100% happy with her looks, how can other women, with less of the physical advantages of Jolie be expected to feel happy with their lot? Of course most women are realistic enough to know that not all women can look like Jolie (or would even want to for that matter), but that doesn’t stop them wishing. Similar holds for men. Not everyone can look like me or George Clooney.

English: George Clooney at the Paris premiere ...
English: George Clooney at the Paris premiere of “The Ides of March” Français : George Clooney à l’avant-première parisienne des “Marches du pouvoir” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is evident however, that there is not one standard of beauty (for men or women). Beauty pageants promote one standard of beauty, but films and TV promote another. Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder. Though it is not usually considered to be a usual measure of beauty, body building is also all about having the best body.

There’s a double standard here, of course. People aspire to be beautiful, and to be highly regarded as such, but if someone goes out of his (or her) way to look at beautiful people, on the Internet, in magazines, all around them, it is rightly considered that there is something wrong with them.


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So on the one hand you have people who want to be beautiful, and that is pointless if they are not seen to be beautiful and on the other hand you have people who are obsessed with beauty, which is unhealthy. Of course most people as is usual fall somewhere in the middle ground – they want to be prettier, but they wouldn’t go to the lengths of cosmetic surgery or Botox.

So you have people who go to the gym twice, eat a week and a half of “healthy” food and then relapse back to their usual ways. They then feel some degree of remorse, have some degree of acceptance, and maybe resolve to try again some time in the future. (It’s these people who the gyms make their money out of, not the enthusiasts who turn up week in week out!)

Gym Cardio Theatre Category:Gyms_and_Health_Clubs
Gym Cardio Theatre Category:Gyms_and_Health_Clubs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some expressions of the search for beauty verge on the bizarre. In particular the “child beauty pageants” are disturbing and border on the weird. Very young children are dressed up and made up like adults with revealing costumes and perform suggestive actions and dances on stage. Costumes sometimes include fake breasts on children well under teenage.

I personally find these shows distasteful. It teaches mostly female children pretty much all the wrong things about sexuality. The parents of the children justify these shows by claiming that it gives the child confidence and often that the child is the one that is driven by the urge to compete.

English: A young girl in Mauritania.
English: A young girl in Mauritania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All this happens in a world where parents are told to constantly be on their guard on behalf of their children. The message is that there is a sexual predator behind every bush. While the advice to be on guard for the children is good advice, is it true that there are a vast number of pedophiles out there?

It seems unlikely that there are more than there were in previous generations. It may be that there is more opportunity for such people as people these days know far less about their neighbours than previously and people do move about much more than they used to. Maybe this has allowed such people to. if not flourish, to become more of an issue.

Danger Ahead
Danger Ahead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even so, I think that the pendulum has swung a little too far in the wrong direction. Sure we should keep our children safe, but it seems that parents are being targeted for innocent photographs of their children. It would be a rare parent who has not taken photographs of their children in the bath, and to think that taking such photographs is a sign of a perversion is perverse.

To parents, their children are beautiful, clothed or unclothed and while it not impossible that parents could be sex offenders in that way, it is probably very rare. I’d suggest too, that it should be relatively quick and easy to determine whether or not parents are sex offenders. Here is another article about the case of a family in England, in which the authorities explain some of their thinking in such matters.

My sister and her baby.
My sister and her baby. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In one case of beauty and the beast, the beauty and the beast are the same. I refer to the situation where a young lady dresses in a beautiful if revealing dress and proceeds to get very very drunk. There is nothing beautiful in a young lady throwing up into a bush or stumbling into the gutter, not to mention the danger that she is putting herself in by getting into such a state.

Obviously the fact that a drunken woman might be vulnerable does not in any way justify someone taking advantage of her while she is in that state. Nothing does.


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Love Actually….

(I’m running late this week. I hope to be on time next week).

English: Beautiful scenery beautiful love story.
English: Beautiful scenery beautiful love story. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Love. The word is thrown around with gay abandon, people claim to be motivated by it when they do extraordinary things. It’s been the subject of literature, from classics to stuff which perhaps should never have been written. Atrocious poetry attempts to define it and celebrate it, and sublime poetry achieves its heights for the same reasons.

There are many sorts of love, man for woman, woman for man, and also the love of a person for another of the same sex. People love animals and people love children, though there are certain loves of these kinds which are strange, bizarre, or wrong. There are the loves for team mates or squad members which strengthens the team or squad, to the extent that in wartime a squad member may sacrifice himself for the sake of the others in the squad.

Team GB
Team GB (Photo credit: the_junes)

People love things. The new Maserati, Holden or Ford. The latest iPhone. An iPad, or other tablet. A new dress, new shoes, new Gucci bag. A new hairdo, new sneakers or a nice juicy steak.

I love a good lie-in in the Morning. Some (who in my opinion are slightly insane) love to be up with the lark. Some love a tropical beach, others an alpine traverse. Some love to run, to the extent where sometimes they will run for hundreds of kilometres.

New York Marathon 2013
New York Marathon 2013 (Photo credit: jaroslavd)

Most people love a challenge, a crossword puzzle or Sudoku. Some love competing with others, some love to challenge themselves by jumping out of a plane, or climbing a high peak in the mountains.

Maybe some would quibble that I have used the word ‘love’ above where others would have used ‘like’. I make no apology for that as the one shades in to the other. But what are the characteristics of love? I’d say that no one definition fits all cases, as is common with any human characteristic.

Cherub
Cherub (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Love primarily is understood to be most simply defined by the (usually) male/female couple. In a marriage ceremony, at least in the Christian rites, the couple pledge to love each other, (amongst other things). In other religions where marriages may be arranged by the parents and the couple may not know each other very well at the time of the marriage, I do not know what pledges are made. Of course, it is not unknown for marriages to be arranged in countries that have adopted the Christian religion. If fact it is probably more common than people realise. The opposite probably holds in countries where the religion is not Christianity.

Rahul's Arranged Marriage (2005)
Rahul’s Arranged Marriage (2005) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m aware that the above is horribly full of unwarranted assumptions and suppositions about culture of which I know little. Someone once joked that in a Hollywood love story, boy meets girl, they fall in love, and get married. In a Bollywood (Indian film industry) love story, boy meets girl, they are married, they fall in love.

A quick scan of the synopses of both Hollywood and Bollywood shows that the truth in much more complex. The Internet Movie Database like 50 Best Bollywood films, and the teasers for the films show plots which would not be out of place in a similar list of Hollywood love films, with only minor amendments. The Hollywood films tend to replace parental pressure with a societal one, but much else remains the same. The gloriously over-generalised Hollywood love story is boy meets girl, they are forced apart because perhaps one is one is from the wrong side of the tracks (a Hollywood favourite), or they initially hate each other, or they are about to be married to others, or they somehow misplace each other. Finally they resolve whatever difficulties separate them.

V.V.Pukirev - The Arranged Marriage
V.V.Pukirev – The Arranged Marriage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perhaps there is only one love story, across all of mankind – boy meets girl, difficulties keep them apart and either they resolve them (happy ending) or they don’t (tragedy). Now I come to think of it, most love stories apart from fairytales are of the second sort – the films “Love Story”, “Titanic” and perhaps “Gone with the Wind” bear this out.

But what is love? It is something some people spend all their lives looking for, and something which others find easy to find. Spousal love seems to be a binding force. It creates an unbreakable team and gives a couple extra power over adversity through synergy. Spousal love can lead to a long lifetime together and passing on within hours of the second spouse when the first dies.

Long Wedding Dress for Couple with Flowers
Long Wedding Dress for Couple with Flowers (Photo credit: epSos.de)

Love in unidirectional. One can love someone without being loved back, but if one is loved back a positive feedback is achieved. Love is happiness, except for the case where the love is not returned, not even recognised. Love is eternal, except when the love ends. That is, if one loves one cannot conceive of the love ending. Love is generous, gentle and giving, unless the love of the loved one is claimed by another, in which case love engenders hate and loathing. Love is unselfish, unless the love is such that family and friends are cast aside. Love is selfish when the lovers are so engrossed in each other that worldly events pass them by.

love is not selfish
love is not selfish (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

The Bible says this about love:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

This verse from 1 Corinthians 14:4-7, which is often used in marriage ceremonies in Christian churches only gives the positive aspects of love which is returned. Misdirected love has caused everything from domestic disputes to full scale wars. The mythical Trojan Wars were supposed to have been about the love of Helen who was already married to Menelaus for Paris. The story may have been based around true events which may have separately happened over some time around 1190BCE.

greece - scene of the trojan war
greece – scene of the trojan war (Photo credit: Xuan Che)

One can paraphrase the writer of the Epistile and say “Love is impatient, love is unkind. It is envious, it boasts and is proud”, because often it is. Love is not always good. But when it conforms to the Epistile writer’s definition, it is the oil that helps to make the world go around.

Love Actually
Love Actually (Photo credit: nehuenmingote)