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Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self by Alice Walker

Updated on September 14, 2012

Reading-Response Essay

What is beauty? According to PRNewswire only two percent of women would describe themselves as beautiful. There are multiple definitions of beauty, but my favorite is found in the World English Dictionary, which defines beauty as “the combination of all qualities of a person or thing that delight the senses and please the mind.” It is not only looks, but it is every aspect of a person’s character. Beauty does not have a standard. Everyone has something beautiful to offer in his or her own unique way.

According to Alice Walker in “Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self” viewing oneself as beautiful all depends on one’s perspective. This is shown as Walker goes on a journey of self-discovery. When she was a little girl being pretty was the only thing she knew then the accident happened, she was shot in the eye with a BB gun, that changed her life. Her face was no longer flawless and she had to learn that beauty comes from within. Walker’s essay focuses on the negative effects of feeling unbeautiful, the way other people view us as compared to how we see ourselves, and what it really means to be beautiful. I agree with her in the essay that self-acceptance is greater than trying to fit in with the world’s opinion of what beauty is. Everyone needs to find beauty within.

When a woman feels unattractive it affects her whole outlook on life and is reflected in the way she carries herself. Self-esteem and confidence comes from within so if we do not feel beautiful then others will not think so either. Most people want the company of someone who is confident in his or herself no matter what their outward appearance is. I am not saying physical appearance does not play a role. It plays a small, temporary role in concern with whom we are initially attracted to. Walker put all her emphasis on how she looked. When going through her worst times she would say to herself “I do not pray for sight. I pray for beauty.” As she grows she realizes this is the wrong mindset to have. We are drawn to certain looks, and the qualifications for these looks are unique to each individual, but what really makes our opinion of a person positive or negative is their personality. If you show people your genuine personality most likely the ones you relate with most are going to be drawn to you no matter the outward appearance. Most women usually forget personality is greater than appearance.

All too frequently women dramatize their so-called “faults” and believe everyone is looking at them on a microscopic level. As women we take part in a self-deprecating ritual of criticizing our outer appearance then letting those insecurities consume our mind. Walker was no exception. In her essay she states “…it is really how I look that bothers me.” when commenting on the more serious issue of blindness. In reality people do not notice our flaws as obviously as we do. All they see is, yes, our appearance, but also who we are as a person and how we present ourselves. They look closely at our confidence, integrity, character, etc., not our complexion or our weight. If we allow our insecurities to consume us then it will in affect translate into all the important aspects of who we are.

In order to be beautiful do you have to have a certain look or personality? Walker learns that neither of those are criteria for being beautiful. Being beautiful is a personal choice. If you feel beautiful, then you are beautiful. There is not a valid argument to prove otherwise. Walker did not feel beautiful after her accident and it reflected on her life. She became withdrawn from her friends and family. When her flaw was reduced with surgery she says her confidence came back with a bam. Walker went on to be very successful in high school and her life all because she felt beautiful again. What beauty is to one person may not be beauty to another. We have to stop trying to please everyone’s views and focus on our own opinion of what beauty is.

Beauty is all about how you look and feel about yourself. The statistic stated at the beginning of this essay said only two percent of women consider themselves to be attractive is depressing. I am beautiful and you are beautiful. Women need to change their definition of beauty and start realizing the true meaning behind the word. Being beautiful does not mean everyone in the world is going to think you are drop dead gorgeous nor does it mean everyone is going to like you. It means you have an heir of self-worth and people see who you really are by what you represent and stand for. If they do not like you then that is there loss, but at least you know the ones who do love and accept you do it genuinely and for the right reasons. Walker closes her essay with a story about how her little girl changed the way she saw her “deformity”. What once was a default and error to her was now a unique and beautiful characteristic that her daughter saw as something special.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      i do not understand

    • mereleigh profile image


      6 years ago

      Because we chose to respond to the same essay, I was curious to see your response! I agree that beauty is relative depending on personal preference and culturally. Also, I concur that a healthy level of confidence stands as an attractive and rare quality in society. Overall, both men and women who recognize they are created in God's image can stand strong knowing they are uniquely and wonderfully made.

    • sarahbyers profile image


      6 years ago from waco tx

      I love your thoughts on beauty


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