Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Let's talk for a few minutes about beauty.

There was an interesting article on the CNN website yesterday titled "Does this HDTV make me look fat?" The point of the article was that television personalities are now concerned about how they look in closeups shot in the unforgiving clarity of high-definition television. This is, in general, harder for women; after all, we tend to expect men to look a bit more...uh...worn, whereas the ladies try much harder to conceal blemishes, wrinkles, and other things they think detract from their appearance. They worry about staying beautiful.

I think about beauty a lot, being married to a beautiful lady and having a beautiful daughter, a beautiful daughter-in-law, and a beautiful granddaughter. I also enjoy being surrounded by beautiful ladies while enjoying ballroom dancing. I appreciate feminine beauty.

But what does it really mean to be beautiful?

A comedian once said he didn't understand why we say beauty is only skin deep. That's deep enough, he maintained - what do you want, an adorable pancreas? And then there was the scene in Thomas Harris's novel Hannibal, in which Hannibal Lecter compliments Clarice Starling on how beautiful she looks, and she gently rebukes him with the words, "Looks are an accident, Dr Lecter."

What makes a woman beautiful?

The old adage is right: beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. What makes a lady beautiful to one man may turn off another (and of course, the same is true as ladies look at men). I, for instance, think it's enormously sexy for a lady to have hairy arms; many other men find this a turn-off. Some men would like to see every lady have breasts the size of the Capitol dome; I think it's far more attractive for a lady to have a pleasantly proportioned shape.

So where are we going with this discussion? My point is that everyone has his (or her) own concept of physical beauty, and not everyone will find the same person beautiful. In the end, beauty really is only skin deep. Many years ago I briefly dated a young woman who had every single physical attribute I found attractive. But the poor girl was just as dumb as the proverbial post...I literally couldn't talk with her about anything that I found interesting or important, because nothing beyond television, trashy novels, and shopping interested her. She was the quintessential Valley Girl.

In time, beauty fades. Hair turns gray (boy, do I know!), breasts sag, and waistlines magically expand (I know about that, too!). A relationship based only on physical attraction is a house built on shifting sand. If you don't look for the inner beauty to complement the outer beauty, for the compatibility that allows two people to grow old happily together, you'll never be happy.

I hope you can be as lucky as I, and find a beautiful and superbly intelligent lady to share your life. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the search.

Have a good day. We'll get back to deeper thoughts tomorrow.