The following is a story that led me to think about the question of physical beauty in humans although I had it coming to my mind for a couple of reasons which I'll discuss below.
As usual, Jezebel is funny on this.
Beauty as a plus or minus was on my mind after I woke up one morning wondering if why some people dislike romance books is because they are generally about beautiful people-- female and male.
Chick lit can be about beautiful women, but it's generally less inclined to be so. A lot of novels barely cover the physical looks of their lead characters. Maybe Jane Austen's romances get a pass from some readers because their heroines (if not heroes) describe themselves as plain or not the beauties of their family. Wuthering Heights had a beautiful heroine, but she paid the price for it. I am trying to think if there are many literary novels where a heroine could be rewarded for physical beauty? Often it's a road to tragedy like Anna Karenina.
Could it be that some of the reasons readers dislike romance novels is because of whom they are generally about-- the beautiful people who do get a happy ending? Might it be that it's not so much the romantic part but that physical beauty in male and female irks some readers? Is beauty a plus in life or does it have a downside that leads to resentment from those who don't feel they possess it (even though they might)?
I saw in the paper that the new People magazine was out with their most beautiful women in the year issue (which, no I won't be buying). Gwyneth Paltrow has the top this year. It's always interesting how a woman or man can be most beautiful one year and lose it the next but alas the way of beauty, I guess.
So while she is labeled most beautiful by some. She was in another poll as most hated. Does her beauty factor into both? I've read that some resent her for pushing healthy eating. That's a reason some resent Michelle Obama who is probably one of our most beautiful first ladies but because her figure is more of the goddess sort, some put her down in an era where toothpicks are admired not sensual curves.
As I get past the age of worrying so much about my own physical beauty-- and I guarandamntee you that as a woman gets old if she cares too much about her physical beauty, she's going to be miserable-- doomed to get surgeries, inject poisons, diet constantly and even then not be able to match what she once was-- I am interested in a rather abstract way as to what beauty is.
We live in a world where beauty is treasured and reviled. It likely always has been thus. Culturally what is regarded as beautiful varies quite a lot. I've talked to many women who don't consider themselves beautiful and yet to me they are. What's that about?
Just out of curiosity I thought about this question-- how many really beautiful people are there? One day when I was at Costco but had not gone into the store with Farm Boss, as I waited in the truck, I critically looked at the faces for physical beauty or even extremely interesting faces. This was obviously not a scientific study. Since I have not done this before, I cannot even say it was typical for Costco shoppers.
In that hour or less, there weren't any physically beautiful people period-- most especially none in mid-years. Is physical beauty that rare? I'm not sure how many faces I saw but say 100 and zero that were beautiful. Writing books about the physically beautiful or even having our movies generally be about them-- what's that about if it's not how most of us are?
Another thing is in youth there is a lot more beauty or at least cuteness. Do we lose it in mid years through expressions? Weight? Attitude? Mid-life is where there are a lot of pressures-- does that impact people's faces? Interestingly besides teens tending to be at least cute, the elderly are often again more attractive -- at least it's how it seems to me. What is there about an elderly face, white hair, a lot of lines and something that really does say beauty? Maybe the attitudes have softened?
I had another question. If some readers reject romances for being about physically beautiful people falling in love and finding a happily ever after, who are the readers who do buy these books? Best seller lists regularly have romances on them. A recent series of books (grey something or other) about a beautiful woman, very handsome wealthy man along with kinky sex not only sold over 40 million copies, but is about to become a movie. Can you imagine that degree of success had it been about a pudgy heroine and balding, kinky but wealthy hero? So in some cases beauty sells and in other cases it's a block? Some say that book got its popularity not for the kink but the stereotypical romance of two beautiful people.
I have no idea but beauty is a factor in life. I have even heard from those who think Obama got elected president because he was good looking (and yes, I do think he's a handsome man). If so, why didn't it work for Romney who is the prototype male for being tall, handsome, square jawed, and with good hair?
Images purchased from Canstock to use in trailers for books.