Friday, February 27, 2009

Beauty is a Funny Thing

Beauty is a funny thing. It seems to be one of those things that is common among all cultures (every culture has a definition of what makes someone beautiful), but vastly different as well. The differences between what is “beautiful” and what is “not” differ from person to person too, even if they live in the same house. Beauty is a very unique thing in many ways.

I thought about this as I was doing my bi-monthly, half-assed leg shave last night. I don’t remember when I first started shaving my legs (around 11 years old, I think), but I do remember feeling like I was super grown up and totally cool. After shaved legs came training bras, then “hair in places there wasn’t hair in before”…and over the course of a couple years we became ‘women’. At first I thought it was all pretty funny; I had read numerous books about what would happen to me and what it all meant…but that doesn’t mean we didn’t tease the first girl in the group to get armpit hair (who was also, coincidentally, the first girl to (we think) feel a penis. It was a school dance and he must’ve got a total boner while dancing with her. When she told us what happened we squealed and asked her what it felt like…she proceeded to touch us gently on the leg with a few fingers smushed together. Anyways, ask me and I’ll show you sometime.)

All this is to say that it was these few years was when I first started thinking about beauty and started to pay attention to my appearance. At first it was painting our nails 10 different colours, wearing sparkle gel from La Senza…and I’m pretty sure I recall a phase where I thought I’d try to wear makeup; I was 14 and the lipstick was a deep maroon-purple.

After those few years, I generally stopped thinking about “conforming to society’s standards of beauty” or whatever else you think when you’re 16 years old, and did my own thing. I went through many phases as I grew and was always fairly conscious of clothing decisions (even when all I wore was sweatshirts) but never really did the makeup thing. Now that I’m older, I enjoy looking nice. I’ll wear makeup and put outfits together, and I even try to match purses to shirts (or am I supposed to match them to shoes?). I mean, I don’t always wear makeup because some days I couldn’t care less…but I try to look good. I am not fashion, as we all know, but I don’t want to be that sloppy fat girl on the subway.

Beauty is pretty interesting, though. Some people drool over model looks – perfectly sculpted abs, perfectly rounded breasts, tight asses, fantastic hair…these things are what some people find attractive and what we as a society tend to all agree is “traditionally beautiful” in the Western world. However, some people find that they are more attracted to [for lack of a better word] ‘average’ looking people. There are some who prefer heavy people, short people, black people, long hair, makeup…you really can’t define ‘beauty’. 

So as I was in the shower last night doing my bi-monthly, half-assed leg shaving, I started to wonder about all this beauty stuff; where do I fit in on the beauty scale? What exactly do I find beautiful?

Where do I fit in? Obviously on the ‘omg you’re so hot’ end. Duh.

What do I find beautiful? I really can’t say. I’ve found tall men appealing, but have gone crazy over short men too. I’ve dated stick-thin and not-so-thin people. I have kissed full lips and I have kissed thin lips. I have stared in awe at my friends’ beautiful racks, and smiled dreamily at their crooked noses. I guess I tend to find people beautiful when I know them and know their personalities; if I know someone, I’m much more likely to be attracted to them than if they’re just a stranger on the street. I think a lot of people feel this way, too. Many people I’ve talked with can say that once they get to know someone that person becomes more and more beautiful to them. That whole “beauty is what’s on the inside” thing.

In the other vein, I've met people who I've chatted with online, fell head over heels for them, then met them and wasn't physically attracted to them (and I KNOW this has happened vise-versa too, but I try not to focus on those things.)  Did I pursue a relationship with them?  No, because that initial sexual attraction wasn't there.

Anyways, beauty is pretty indefinable and interesting and there are tons of examples out there (like those tribes in Africa that put plates in their lips! Plates!). And maybe there’s a difference between someone being ‘beautiful’ and someone being ‘sexually attractive’…?  And maybe it does all boil down to personality, after the initial 'eyes locked across a crowded room' thing.  

Whatever. I’m just gonna start waxing.

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