What Makes a Person Beautiful?
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"
"Beauty comes from within"
"Beauty is skin deep"
(popular quotes regarding beauty)
What is Beauty?
It is a debatable topic, and perhaps a very personal one. How does one define beauty? Many of us spend hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds/dollars per year trying to improve our physical appearance. Whilst some people seem to be born 'beautiful', others grow into it as they age, like swans. Not only that, but not everyone has the same idea of what physical beauty even is. We don't all think the same people are beautiful. It fact, it varies greatly. And our perception of beauty can change over time - even with regards to the same person. Someone we used to think is attractive may change in our views to become quite the opposite, and vice versa. This tells us that beauty is not simply a matter of appearance, although that is so often what we focus on - it rather implies that it is intrinsically connected with our human emotions.
Quote about Being Beautiful......Author Roald Dahl (The Twits)
If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until it gets so ugly you can hardly bear to look at it.
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.....(Roald Dahl, 1980)
The Inner Spirit
How we view a person - the 'whole' person - can definitely influence our opinion on how beautiful we think they are. A person who exudes warmth and good spirit will so often seem more attractive when compared to a more aloof person. Being beautiful is much more than the physical characteristics we were born with - it is about the inner spirit shining through. Even very young children can recognise the difference when shown pictures of facial expressions, reacting more positively to a smiling face when compared to an angry or disappointed photo of the same person.
Not only can our immediate facial expressions influence the way we are seen by others, but as we age our overall personality can show through in our faces. If we spend our lives allowing negativity to take over, then we are probably going to end up transparently 'wearing' our feelings. People who always feel negative frown more. This creases the forehead. They smile less, which makes the mouth head downwards. The opposite is true for those who have spent a lifetime smiling and laughing. Whilst most of us are not too keen on the onset of wrinkles and age-related fine lines, crow's feet that show we have smiled and laughed don't lessen attractiveness and are preferable to a permanently grumpy demeanour. More than that, we unconsciously pick up more subtle emotions when looking at a person's face - perhaps chronic discontent, bitterness or defensiveness - all of these states of mind can alter expression and are less desirable.
Many mainstream magazines might seem to portray the idea that beauty is a youthful concept. If we are talking about unlined skin and non-greying hair, then perhaps it is true. Yet there are many people who still look beautiful as they move into older age. Retaining an enthusiasm for life and for other people can result in a twinkle; a radiance, that shines through the eyes. Some people can even appear more beautiful as they age, having adopted a 'softer' appearance - and perhaps a softer approach to life as well. Quiet contentment and acceptance often softens us as we age.
"Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks,
Not in what they say
Just in what they are"
Quoted from I Am The Messenger, by Markus Zusak
Beauty can exist anywhere, no matter where we come from or what we have...
Smiling and Beauty
If there is one aspect of appearance that really can enhance beauty, then it is without doubt a genuine smile. Smiling is a beautiful thing - it lights up faces and puts other people at ease. Smiling can have a very positive influence on social interactions - we often warm to people who smile a lot because they make us feel welcome and accepted. Smiley people are attractive because they put out an air of friendliness or happiness. Smiling indicates positivity - and we are usually more drawn to positive people because they make us feel good about ourselves.
The most beautiful people are open to the world and humanity around them. No matter how stereo-typically attractive an individual may seem to be, something is missing when aloofness and an inability to reach out to others is apparent. When someone gives out good energy, then others around them will feel better too. Others are attracted towards them, instinctively feeling that they are a good person to be around. The ability to give out good energy is a very beautiful gift to have. Compassion and kindness are beautiful. Generosity is beautiful. Tolerance is beautiful. Making people laugh is beautiful. Zest for life is beautiful. All of these traits portray a beauty far beyond physicality. Sometimes, we read research that tells us the recipe for attractiveness requires certain ingredients - wide-set eyes; full lips; high cheekbones, etc. But the truth is that really beautiful people have a mixture of physical characteristics - and the real beauty lies much deeper within.
Beautiful people are not confined by their own egos or fears. They embrace life, and the people they meet within that life. Really beautiful people connect with other people's hearts - they shine outwards, rather than always focusing in on themselves and their own concerns. In order to really love the world and others in it, a certain degree of high self-esteem is necessary - because one of the most important steps in life is to learn to love and accept yourself first. High self-esteem, however, doesn't mean being egocentric and boastful - really beautiful people tend to have an element of humbleness.
Beauty and Emotion Linked
When it comes to our individual perception of beauty, it is easy to see how intrinsically our emotions and our concept of beauty is linked. When we connect with a person on any level, we are more likely to see them in a good light, appearance included. Basically, we look at this person and see someone we like, or even love. We see everything good about them. If, in time, we come to lose the rapport we have with that person - perhaps reaching the conclusion that we are 'chalk and cheese', seeing negative traits, or perhaps even falling out altogether, we may no longer view them in a positive light. In fact, when we look at this person we may see characteristics that we don't like instead - negativity rather than optimism; anger instead of love, irritability rather than fondness. When we feel this way, the physical aspects of the person may seem to be totally different, almost as if their appearance has altered. Whilst the physical features are still the same, we have changed the way we interpret them.
When, on the other hand, we think we have found a 'soul-mate', we really might have eyes for no-one else. We may look at this person and believe we are seeing the most beautiful person in the world - our feelings are not based simply on physical appearance, but actually mostly on emotional attraction. We have connected with somebody on a deep level - far deeper than 'skin deep' - and the attraction of their personality enhances, for us, their physical appearance. To us, no one is more physically appealing. We might be the only one who feels this way about this person, because other people make different connections. This highlights the diverse opinion of what beauty really is.
To approach the subject from yet another angle, perhaps we have seen somebody who we don't even know, who we think of as very attractive; very beautiful. Perhaps a celebrity, someone in a club or bar, or even just someone who walks our way on a regular basis. This is lust; admiration from afar - but if we are given the opportunity to get to know this person, in reality we may find that we simply don't click after all. When that happens, the physical attraction may wear off as well, at least partly.
"The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode, but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years." - Quote - Audrey Hepburn
Making the Most of Oneself
But even though true beauty comes from within, it doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to enhance our appearance to make ourselves feel more attractive. Making the most of what has been given to us indicates that we care about ourselves and the way in which we are received. Truly beautiful people care about themselves from the inside out. Looking after our bodies makes us feel healthier, and when we are healthier we look better. Healthy food and water gives us more energy and a certain radiance. It can give us clearer skin and brighter eyes. When we look after ourselves, we have more of a spark and more energy to focus outwards into the world. It is important, sometimes, to both nurture and pamper ourselves. It makes us feel more beautiful - and how we feel is what is most important.
Accentuating our own features to make the most of ourselves is something we have been doing for centuries. People have used make up and accessories like jewellery for thousands of years, decorating their bodies and faces in an attempt to look more attractive. This further determines the strong link between the mental and physical when it comes to attractiveness. Whilst hiding our imperfections and highlighting our good points can certainly improve our basic appearance (even adorning a colour that really enhances our skin or hair can make a huge difference), it is about how it makes us feel as a person that is most important. People who feel good about the way they look are very often more self-confident - and this self-confidence then shows through in their appearance. Confident people hold themselves differently. They might walk differently. They may even act differently, shining forth rather than holding back, blooming rather than shrinking. This means that the reception they receive off others is often more positive.
"Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart." - Quote by Kahlil Gibran
So many young girls are obsessed with the constant pictures of models in magazines, depicting the 'perfect' image. Too often, they think that being 'beautiful' means copying these women - that their lives will be better if only they wore the same styles; attained identical figures or had perfect complexions. Often, these images are unrealistic - make-up artists do a great job of hiding all flaws, and clever camera angles and airbrushing can do the rest of the work. It is not a true image - the same model dressed down and without makeup may look rather different. But in any case, it is an idea of beauty that focuses only on the external layer and forgets about the inner soul.
We are all individuals, and we shouldn't forget that. In our quest for beauty, we should remember that we can only be ourselves - not anybody else. We can learn to make the best of ourselves, growing as people - but we can't transform into another person, and neither should we want to. If we are always trying to be someone else. then we can never truly shine as ourselves. And if we are not shining as our true selves, then we are missing some of our unique beauty.