Good looking people get paid more, do less jail time and have more sex than ugly people, and beautiful people get all that but even more so, and if you try to say ugly people don’t exist because ‘everyone is beautiful’ I’d ask you to take it up with Sartre (were he not dead), who not only believed in ugliness as a definite trait but attributed much of his philosophy to his own lazy-eyed, freakshow face and near midget status yet still managed to date feminist icon and all-around social theory genius (and sometime lesbian pedophile) Simone de Beauvoir for years and years and years, not to mention blow minds on the daily, even now, 30 odd years after his death.
There are worse things in the world than being ugly, and most of the great minds of every generation got their thinking and writing done because they weren’t beautiful enough to waste their nights having meaningless sex with other gorgeous layabouts. Very few, if any, renowned scientists or philosophers were beautiful.
All people are somewhat interesting, and most of us have rich and varied intellectual lives or great stores of compassion or other attributes that, once discovered, can make us very wonderful and occasionally beautiful to those who know us, but some people are just plain beautiful, physically, in the fucking face, and that is neither a good nor a bad thing (although studies show it’s usually good for them). It’s just a fact.
(More to read when you click the link above)
I’ve been having this conversation with someone recently, and it’s gotten me thinking about what it means to be beautiful, attractive, or ugly. We can all say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and perhaps this is true in the deepest, truest extent. But here’s my theory, which I was explaining to a friend last night:
We create our own worlds, and we create this one too. Our minds and selves are universes trapped in physical form. Where does a thought go when you forget it, but somewhere in the wide black space of your own existence?
But we have also all corroborated on creating this physical manifestation of a world we live in. The rules of physics exist because someone thought it, and we have all since agreed upon its reality. This goes for everything, even beauty. There are standards of beauty, which may change from generation to generation, but the concept of it remains the same. And it is why, as linked text mentions, beautiful people receive more privilege. They fit certain standards to which we ourselves have subscribed.
So what happens when you don’t fit these standards of beauty? I would consider myself a fine example for this. I’m short, bald, and I am not an owner of six-pack abs. I do not fit the criteria for what the Western world considers as objectively beautiful - and here we can also agree that different cultures have different standards as well. But in this increasingly globalized world, the Western standards seem to be winning out. However, I’ve learned to love myself regardless. I’ve learned to cultivate other qualities that make me a good, interesting, and perhaps somewhat attractive person.
Something that used to frustrate me as a gay man is how shallow of a culture “the Gays” seem. It always comes down to looks and to another degree, race. Years ago, while browsing through Craigslist personals, or on Adam4Adam, I would lose count of how many times I would read “no fems, fatties or Asians” or something to that degree. Do you know how demoralizing that is? Of course you can brush it away and simply say, “Wow, what an asshole.” But it doesn’t erase the fact of its existence. To be told that you are unwanted cuts to deep degrees, and makes you question yourself, no matter how much you’ve built yourself up. The ego will take a fall.
So is there a solution to this? Depends on what the problem is. For me, the issue was that I felt like a powerful, beautiful, interesting person inside, only limited by this body I was born in. What I’ve done is try to stay true to myself, find people who are willing to corroborate with me in creating a world in which our inner selves speak more to our beauty as humans than how we fit certain criteria, forced upon us by the masses, and to which we, as I’ve mentioned, have subscribed, as well. Unsubscribe! Write your own standards of beauty. Live your own reality. When you can believe in your own truth, it translates to how you operate in the larger sphere, and people take notice. I’m living this philosophy daily.
I’m currently reading The Art of Non-Comformity by Chris Guillebeau. It’s a fascinating read, full of great ideas and concepts I think about much too often. At times, it almost feels as if I’m reading my own journal. One of the chapters in the book is the importance of conquering fear.
We all have fears and insecurities, and I believe they are there for a reason. In yogic philosophy, they are called “samskaras” or past imprints that we carry, such as bad habits or thought patterns. Like these samskaras, fear manifests to be challenged or reinforced. During my yoga teacher training at Mt. Madonna Center, I learned to deal with whatever emotions or memories that sprung up. They come to the surface of the mind and we have to realize that we wield the power to do with them what we desire.
When a thought of insecurity enters the mind we can do one of two things. The first option is to say “Yes, that is true, I am a very bad/ugly/fat/uninteresting person. This reinforces the negative samskara to be able to repeat more often. The ego likes pattern, after all. Unfortunately, it does not discriminate between “good self-image” thoughts, and destructive ones. All it wants is reaffirmation of its existence and emotional power.
The other course of action to take is to obliterate this samskara. Rather than give in to the negative mindset, it’s important to change one’s frame of mind to a more positive, strong mindset. When it applies to fear, one must try to conquer it. This is the same basis under which people “cure” themselves of their phobias, by confronting their fears slowly and repeatedly.
Guillebeau writes, “fear begins with an undefined worry, a voice in the back of your head that says you’re not good enough, you won’t succeed with anything big or significatnt, and you might as well give up and stop trying to stand out.” What do we do when we hear this voice? Rather than following or agreeing with these thoughts, instead tell yourself, “NO, I will not stand for this. I am more than this. I am better than this. I can do this.”
(stay tuned for more on “Fear”)
My time on Mt. Madonna has brought me face to face with my ego. These past few days, I’ve made it my goal to dissociate myself from this personality, see myself as separate.
But the task is not to eradicate the ego, but rather, to learn and observe it, so that everything done is for a greater good, and not simply to reinforce preconceptions.
I’ve lived my life alongside this individual self - who craves love and affection, who sings at the top of his lungs, and who fiercely guards the heart.
My ego is highly protective, ready at the gates to bark at anyone trying to sneak in. He raises walls and sends arrows spinning in the air.
He wakes me in the morning, often with a song. Jumping and chanting, he burns through thoughts like smoke, billowing out the window.
At breakfast, he smashes a piñata as I make myself coffee. I watch him greedily devouring candied memories and plans. He leaves the wrappers on the floor.
My ego loves his reflection and if he doesn’t look his best, blames it on dirty mirrors.
When we go to the beach, he stays by the shore, jumping into waves, but afraid of getting swept away into the sea. No amount of convincing can get him to dive deeper to see the fish. But he is curious when I bring him shells and seaweed.
At night he sleeps, nestled by my chest, softly snoring. He often hogs the blankets.