Skills: Defining Beauty
from Contributor: Kimberly Mason
Everyone knows the old saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Few would argue that the concept of beauty is truly subjective. One man’s beauty is another man’s beast. Science tells us that certain physical traits such as symmetry can predict beauty, but there is no set of physical characteristics that all humans can agree upon being beautiful. Aside from the expected cross cultural and cross generational variations, people from the same cross section of a society cannot even agree. And all this is to say nothing of inner beauty, which is just as variable, if not more.
The Webster’s New World Dictionary lists many definitions of beauty, one of which is, “A trait or combination of traits calling forth admiration, praise or respect.” This definition, as with all others, leaves a lot up to interpretation. A trait is defined as, “a distinguishing quality, feature, mark or peculiarity.” So this leads to my perception of beauty. It is what makes us unique that makes us beautiful. I am beautiful because I am Me, and there is nobody else in the world that is like Me.
Now, it is easy to take this statement lightly. Of course all individuals are unique. We all have flaws and facets that make us stand alone. However, I mean this on a much deeper level than simply my individual thoughts and feelings and my physical characteristics. There is somebody, somewhere that has my nose. These thick eyebrows? I’ve seen two women already today who shape theirs just the same. Somebody else out there, in this huge world, is passionate about tending to the Earth and conserving our wild places. I am not the only person that is amazed that a tiny seed has all the information it needs to grow into a tree. These are characteristics that I hold dear, that make me ME, but there are millions of other people who share my individual traits. I’m sure nobody alone could possibly hold them all collectively, but the traits themselves are not what are unique.
What is unique is that I am the product of every moment that has come before. I started out as every other human, a cluster of cells multiplying and replicating in one of sciences’ most miraculous and amazing processes. The cells changed and grew until they assumed the human form I hold today. We all started the same way. But, from the moment I breathed air, until this very moment that I sit here typing, I have constantly been shaped and formed internally and externally by my environment and reactions to it . Every heartache, every joy. Every sorrow or disappointment, achievement or disadvantage. Every skinned knee or lazy day on the couch. Every purge, every meal restricted. Every drink taken, hidden or spilled. Every time that I’ve risen above my diseases to do the next right thing. Every breath that I’ve taken has led me to be this very person before you. The one. The only. The beautiful, Me. I am the exact person my creator intended me to be in this exact moment, and that is beautiful. All I have to do is concede to my innermost self that this person- this product of fear and change, trauma and courage, of darkness and light, disease and health- is right where she needs to be.
My body produces beautiful miracles every day. Cells regenerate. Systems rebuild. My body and mind are guided by scientific principles that I can only begin to understand. Yet they happen, as they should, without much aid from me. If my physical self can heal, then my mental and spiritual self can do the same. Regardless of what the past has led to. What a beautiful thing. I need to honor every moment from the past, for without them the Me I know would be another someone. Someone foreign. What is even more beautiful is that today, I can honor you for being the exact person You are meant to be, in this moment. Today, the beauty in me honors the beauty in you. That is the best I can do, and today, that is enough. Today, my friends, is a beautiful day.
Image: photograph by Kimberly, A moth she hatched as an egg, fed as a Caterpillar for months, and protected the cocoon for a YEAR until it hatched. When it did, it was gorgeous, and lived for 12 hours.