Sorry it's been a while.
Anyway, in a departure from my usual fare, which often veers off into bitching and moaning about how far afield I am from modern Christianity and my woes, trials, and tribulations...in short, the incipient lack of a spine I had eight months ago...I'm going to touch on a subject that's come up a few times in the last week.
I'm sure you've all heard the phrase, "The beauty of a pun is in the oy of the beholder."
No, wait, not that one. That's Spider Robinson's quote.
No, this phrase:
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
We all find different things beautiful for different reasons and in different ways, basically. This isn't just a static condition, either; it changes over time and life experience. For the longest time, my brother was holding out hope of finding a 4'10" Japanese gymnast with red hair and D-cups; now, years later, he has moved on to "not bony or gelatinous, and not crazy."
The media and Hollywood give us images of tall, rail-thin, boyish-framed females as an "ideal"; history of the last 50 years shows that Twiggy is alive and well in today's models, even if they have to kill themselves to do it, in some cases resorting to drugs, starvation, and brutal exercise to maintain the "ideal" body weight and shape. And if the model can't fit that, or just doesn't, they'll resort to lighting, camera angles, or just plain Photoshop the fuck out of the pictures. Check this out:
Why bother with makeup, hairdressing, plastic surgery, and blemishes when you can just take a model CLOSE to what you want and completely redo her in Photoshop?
Anyway, this video also illustrates how the "ideal" is put out there: If you're not skinny with unnaturally flawless features, disproportionate measurements achievable only by surgery, and the right skin tone du jour, you're not "beautiful". Teens and adults diet and drug themselves to death, assuming they can't also afford to nip/tuck themselves into caricatures of a human right along with it.
I've done my best to instill in my kids that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about their looks or their bodies; they'll never be happy if THEY are not happy with how they are, and fuck the world to tell 'em different.
The most important aspect of the "Eye of the beholder" quote is that we're our harshest critics when we look in the mirrors or at ourselves in any other way..."Beholder" encompasses us as well.
The fashion and beauty industries worship symmetry. What this is teaching our children is that superficial and fake is king; it's teaching them that if they're not perfect they're without value or beauty and are unlovable. It's teaching them that the opinions of others regarding themselves matter, even to their own detriment. I'm not saying that we should discard the opinions of others out of hand; there are some people that occasionally have good ideas.
Sorry, my inner INTJ got loose there for a second.
Anyway, the point is to test the opinion with critical thinking: Is this position of theirs regarding my body and appearance healthy? Is it even FEASIBLE? Is it what I want? Do they have my best interests at heart?
That last one is a BIG one, and the crux of the "beauty" industry; they want to sell you stuff, and they'll misrepresent, mislead, and misdirect you every chance they can if it means a buck.
Now, the flip side to how we see ourselves is how we see others, going back to the "eye of the beholder" thing.
Hey. I'm a guy. I check out women. I think they're beautiful, and I like looking at them.
Personally, I take each woman as an individual; one woman might have appealing legs, or mesmerizing eyes, or a sharp wit, or aesthetically shaped breasts or bum, or completely average looks with a quick wit, humor, and mind. Every woman is different and more than the sum of her parts. You'll also note I didn't put boundaries or define my criteria: I said "appealing", "mesmerizing", and "aesthetically shaped". These are things that matter to me, subjectively, and can vary and change between each person; one woman's green eyes might look much better in her face than green eyes in another person. A woman might appeal to me in every way physically, and as soon as she opens her mouth and speaks I lose interest; a woman might be plain and unremarkable, but possess an utterly captivating mind capable of engaging me in conversations for hours and hours.
There's no one thing, there's no specific group of things...rather, it's an aggregation of several things, a totality, and it varies person to person. Also, none of this predicates a judgment of something being wrong with them...just not a preference or appealing in this subjective instance to me. We have to try and see past the facades we construct for ourselves.
Be comfortable in your own skin. Love people for things that matter, not just some arbitrary criteria like weight, hair color, or BMI...
And that includes yourself.