Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Beauty: Shallow Or Deep

A short time ago I acquired a photograph of a woman who appeared to be in her late twenties at the time. She was beautiful even without my admitting that she had features that I consider “my type”. I have kept it with pictures of other women whom I consider beautiful. If I were religious, this gallery of women could be considered a shrine.

Some time later I found her again in a different context. She appeared to have put on weight and age since the earlier photo. For my purposes, a woman doing that is going in the right direction to a certain point. She was still beautiful with the added weight. Her age did not detract from my earlier assessment of her beauty. This is a natural progression as we grow in age and character.

Today, years later, I ran across a video of her, and very much looked forward to seeing her again. It was a mistake.

Have you ever looked at the picture of a woman (or man) you considered beautiful until she (or he) appeared real in person or some media? It can be disappointing. It could be her voice, her manner, or her behavior. In this video I heard her speak for the first time. Her voice would have been all right in a general conversation. It was her manner that was disappointing. Her vocabulary was limited, and included idioms that implied no education. She giggled repeatedly. She used and re-used phrases many times in a space of several minutes, which should not have been used once. With the heavy makeup on her face she portrayed a woman who had been used hard over the last few years.

I don’t begrudge her lifestyle. She is earning a living, and that is good. I made an assumption of her person based on the original photograph, and this video completely obliterated that assumption. It is not her age or her looks that undid my admiration. It is her demeanor. It is not her fault. She is who and what she is, and it is likely that her real persona has not changed much from the time of her original photograph. It is only my assumptions about her that changed.

A totally unrelated context that has relevance on this subject comes to my mind from way back. I worked at a large corporation where my immediate boss was a woman. She was smart, quick thinking, and did not take crap from anyone. Although I have always liked older women, especially those in authority, I had no sexual desire toward her. She was not my type. In some ways she angered me from time to time because she micro-managed my work. I wanted more freedom to do my job. At some point I took a trip to attend a conference that was relevant to my work. During this time I ran into a problem, and called her at work to get her advice.

Because we worked in the same office, I had not talked with her over the telephone prior to this time. My first surprise was the sensual sound of her voice when not face to face. Wow, she could have been a different woman. She further surprised me by the content and manner of what she spoke. This was an educated, intelligent, caring person. I never realized she was all that, although I had worked with her for many months.

My problem was resolved partly through her suggestions. After I returned from my conference, working with her came to a different level. I still had the same problems with her as before, but I also saw the beauty of her in the ways I learned over the phone.

Beauty is indeed only skin deep when that is all we see. It is exactly like looking at a photograph: two-dimensional. But, when a person opens herself, we can see past this limit. We may find that the layer of beauty is indeed as shallow as it was in the photograph. Or we may be thrilled to find beauty beyond that first layer. It is beauty that did or did not exist at our first shallow perception.


Thumper said...

I used to be the same way about Cameron Diaz. I always thought she was hot, but the scene in Charlie's Angels when she's got that dude pinned to the wall by his throat *with her foot*!? Holy crap, that's smokin'. But then I heard her talk on Letterman. What a ditz. So much for that.

anna louise said...

well i think people come as a package.You have to like the whole thing.Its the looks that attract but the personality that keeps

doll said...

Wow, this is a thoughtful and quite beautiful blog posting.

I remember the first time I spoke to Master and the shock I felt at his accent (I imagine he may have felt the same) but within that shock was the recognition that there was authority in his voice and deep intelligence. It added further layers to the photos that I had seen previously.

Milliscent said...

I must agree with doll, this is a great post.

Facets of a person can be so wildly different from what we would expect from a limited view, peeling back the layers to discover those facets can be great fun indeed.

Imelda Imelda said...

Ah indeed beauty is so much about the person and soul within. The brain is sexy!

Susan's Pet said...

I have heard it said, "The brain is the greatest sex organ." Which brings up an anecdote from my past. I used to tell may wife, "You look great. Let's have sex."

At that point she would respond with "But what about my brain?"

"Fine. I will fu*k your brains out," I would tell her.

But all that was in jest. We did a lot of... you know... and she still has her brain.