Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fictitious Beauty

Beauty is POWERFUL. It may be the most powerful thing on earth. It is dangerous. Because it matters.

As I was reading in the second chapter of Captivating, this line opened one of the sub-sections 'Why Beauty Matters'. It grabbed my attention, and I immediately wondered what the next few paragraphs were going to hold. Was the author of this "Christian" book now going to expound on all of the virtues of physical beauty, as the world sees it? As it turns out, the answer to my question is NO... and YES. Here are the six words she used to described beauty:

Beauty speaks - every experience of beauty points to eternity
Beauty invites - think of a piece of music that captures you or an ocean that beckons you
Beauty nourishes - recall an infant feeding at her mother's breast
Beauty comforts - remember the bouquet of flowers at your loved one's memorial service
Beauty inspires - creativity in all forms
Beauty is transcendent - it speaks of heaven to come or the Eden we never knew

What an ironic chapter for me to read as I slipped into the bath tonight, hoping to soak away the residue from my day. Only minutes before I turned the faucet to release the hot water, I had spent a good half hour browsing the most recent photo additions to a website that chronicles celebrity plastic surgery.

It's been well over a year since I even considered satisfying my curiosity of the extraordinary beauty that is Hollywood and its icons; and for the first time that I can remember, I no longer found myself envious of what I was viewing but, instead, angry.

How is it that the majority of us 'normal' women have been so cunningly tricked into believing, and yearning for, the 'natural' beauty of Hollywood? Yes, we're all aware of what good lighting, a fabulous photographer and a few layers of Photoshop can do, but those magic tricks still only enhance one's beauty, they don't alter it. These Hollywood icons still have to start with natural beauty, right?

I soon discovered a different truth. Almost every woman that I consider beautiful has been surgically altered. The press is so eager to tout the great genes that "so and so" has been blessed with - this unique specimen of exceptional beauty - and 'we' buy it... hook, line and sinker! Yet all one has to do is to take a look at the 'before' and 'after' photos - BEFORE she was famous and AFTER her trip to the Beverly Hills surgeon - and the difference is remarkable. What's been thrown in our faces as nature's physical anomaly is simply beauty purchased for a price.

The set of photos that made me shake my head in disgust - probably because I'd never even considered this actress as one of the "surgically transformed" - were the before and after shots of Scarlett Johanson. She's barely 23-years old but has been in the public eye for most of her adult life. Scarlett is THE beauty of her generation... striking, sexy, hypnotically gorgeous. Men of all ages swoon at her feet and women wonder why they weren't lucky enough to be born from her gene pool.

And then the truth is revealed! She is only an icon to envy because she had the money to buy her beauty. Without the nose job and cheek implants, without the celebrity make-up artist and hair stylist, she grows up as one of us normal women - another face in the crowd.

We have an entire generation of young girls and women who shed tears of shame or guilt or jealousy because they weren't "blessed" with the natural beauty of actresses like her. And the tragedy of it is that the real Scarlett is never shown, never publicized, because that would allow the rest of us to breathe a sigh of relief and actually appreciate what we have to begin with... and realize that Hollywood beauty is what it's great at producing... a work of fiction.

1 comment:

  1. I spent some time looking at before and after photos. (My eye opener was Kim Kardashian.) Came to the same conclusion you did. Those I admire were born like me. I could be them for a price too.

    LOVED what you shared from your book. I've always wondered why I am so captivated by beauty. Now I can define it. Recognize it. And make it matter.