Blind to Beauty

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” “Beauty is only skin deep.” There are thousands of quotes about beauty, but a large majority of people still cannot truly recognize it.  The lack of recognition derives from those who try to see beauty with their eyes.  Many have fallen victim to being blind to authentic beauty.   For most people, beauty is based upon one’s physical attractiveness, and not upon one’s heart.  It’s hard for many to believe that a person can be physically attractive, but not beautiful.   Beauty and physical attractiveness are not synonymous.  Both can coexist, but are not exclusive to one another.  You will never know that you are blind to beauty until you encounter it in its true form.

In retrospect, we all have our moments of shallowness.  We may not necessarily treat someone poorly if they were not physically attractive; however we may treat someone we deem physically attractive better than others. We are more patient, not as critical, and we often want to be in the company of those we find physically appealing.   At times, quotes which allude to inner beauty are considered to be in good nature, but not realistic.  Are we not supposed to see with our own two eyes?  Is it not only human nature to be fascinated by those we deem attractive?  The whole concept of inner beauty seems appealing, but some cannot see it meshing with the culture which defines the world that we live in today.

I have been fortunate enough to have traveled the world, and have had the privilege of meeting people from many walks of life. I was forever changed by the interactions and relationships that I formed with individuals that had extraordinary personalities and lives.  I began seeing people in a whole new light after experiencing what I did while in these new environments.  When it came to romantic love, I found myself loving a person’s personality before I would love their physical attributes.  Many believe that you must be physically attracted to someone before you can love them romantically.  In my experience, this is not only untrue, but many who believe in this will subsequently overlook true beauty.  Physical attractiveness will always fade as we grow older.  True beauty however, that comes from within, will never fade.  In fact, most often that beauty has a way of exponentially growing with time.

If I were ever asked if I thought someone I had just met was beautiful, my only response would be that I would have to get to know that person before making that evaluation.  There is an exception to every rule, but one generally cannot know someone is beautiful from first glance.  Beauty is something that we need to learn and feel, and cannot just be seen with our eyes.  The first time I fell in love with an individual’s personality, when their physical attributes had no effect on me, was so profound that it changed my worldview.  It was as if I was breathing air for the first time.   Then came regret: How many people have I overlooked because they did not fit my criteria of physical attractiveness?  We all have this bias, but that was when I was finally made aware of its presence within myself.  However, now that I know what authentic beauty is, I can be conscious of my bias and make the choice to look towards what lies underneath the surface.

A picture with other volunteers on Alternative Spring Break 2011 in New Mexico.

To judge someone else based on the color of their skin or a physical disability is not only frowned upon in our society, but it can be illegal in certain situations.  These are physical attributes.  One of the most unchecked discriminations is the judgment of those who we find physically attractive or not.  Those in our society who are deemed as physically attractive often receive better employment opportunities, are associated with our culture’s idea of good, and are generally thought of as more important in comparison to others.  If we believe that we should not judge a person based on the color of their skin or their physical disabilities, then why would we judge a person on whether they are physically attractive or not?  We should evaluate a person based upon the content of their character and/or their personality, not on their physical attributes alone.

Beauty can only be realized when you are able to see into others’ hearts.  One simply cannot just recognize beauty from a distance; one must be in its presence to actually feel it.  If a person can bring warmth to your heart, make you smile, bring you joy, stimulate your mind, make you more positive, or make you feel special, that person is beautiful.  There are many more descriptions of beauty, but none have anything to do with a person’s physical appearance.  Our exterior is merely a shell, which holds what truly is important on the inside, the beauty from within.  Our outer shell will deteriorate with time, but our beauty can grow and prosper for our whole lives.

Some will argue that it is in our human nature to be compelled to respond to only physical attractiveness in other human beings; that it is merely genetics which compels us to want to be with those who are physically attractive. They say it is a primal instinct that has endured throughout time, and these animal instincts control our actions.  I would argue that there is a reason we are different than most species on Earth: we have free will, and intelligence that has given us a tremendous advantage.  If we were to act like dogs and give into our primal instincts, many of us would be placed in jail.  As human beings we have the unique ability to be cognizant of our biases and possess the fortitude to choose not to be blinded by them.  If we can make the effort to not be distracted by one’s physical attributes, and to look past them, we can discover and appreciate the depth, substance, and beauty, which lie within.  It is a challenge that we will all fail at from time to time, but maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be; Beauty may be hard to find because it’s so precious.  True beauty is not something easily found, but rather something that one has to earn in order to feel and be in the presence of.

Edited by Casey Maxwell

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