Monday, July 22, 2013

Elusive Beauty

It's what every woman wants, at least on some level - beauty. Unfortunately beauty itself is elusive, subjective, and what's more, sometimes unhealthy. What do I mean? Let's start with elusive. The very definition of the word elusive is, well, elusive. Dictionary.com defines the word elusive as the following:

e·lu·sive /ɪˈlu sɪv/ Pronunciation Key adjective 1. eluding clear perception or complete mental grasp; hard to express or define: an elusive concept. 2. cleverly or skillfully evasive: a fish too elusive to catch.

I particularly like the second part of the definition which uses the example: a fish too elusive to catch. That, after all, is very much the same as beauty. Just when one thinks that they are one step away from being beautiful, they find another area of themselves in need of "beautification." The classic example, of course, is the woman who becomes addicted to plastic surgery- first it's the eye's that need lifting, but once this is done she finds another part of her that needs "fixing." Perhaps the lips now seem too thin, the chin is sagging, or there are those breasts that are doing the same.

While I have no problem with cosmetic surgery in and of itself, I do believe that one must go through a mental evaluation of self in order to determine whether or not this particular procedure is going to have the desired affect, both mentally and physically. The bottom line is that some woman do indeed feel better about themselves after a cosmetic procedure is done, while some are part of the "never satisfied" group, a group that certainly has issues above and beyond those cosmetic.

Now, on to "subjective." What's the old adage? One man's trash is another man's treasure- or in our case "woman's." In other words, each woman's idea of what is beautiful, or how she may look more so, is an extremely subjective and personal thing. After all, we've all seen a person who completely defies our definition of beautiful and, well, tastefulness, right? I mean, TLC's show "What Not to Wear" is a perfect example. Each woman who goes on the show has been voted on by "friends" who simply believe she does not conform to the societal standards of what's okay and what's not. And I do have to say, there are some women who appear on the show who I, for all my own subjectivities, cannot believe would fit ANY persons idea of taste. However, reminding myself of another adage "beauty is in the eye..." I am humbled by the awareness of my very own highly subjective perspectives on beauty.

So, what's left? Oh, that's right - "unhealthy." Again, I'll quote a definition to help clarify from Dictionary.com, since the Oxford English Dictionary is not available online:

un·health·y [uhn-hel-thee] adjective

1. not in a state of good or normal health; in an unsound, weak, or morbid condition. 2. not conducive to good health; unhealthful: Night air was formerly considered unhealthy. 3. dangerous; risky.

Many aspects of the concept of beauty are, in agreement with the aforementioned definitions, unhealthy. Few would argue that cosmetic surgeries can be risky, that scores of cosmetics on the market are "not conducive to good health" and that many of the worst offenders, weight-loss products, are "dangerous." Additionally, America's fascination with being thin, and sometimes critically so, often leads to anorexia and bulimia which is certainly not a condition that many would consider a "state of good or normal health."

In conclusion while beauty is, as I believe I've outlined above elusive, subjective, and sometimes unhealthy, people worldwide are taking steps to make positive changes to affect the world's conceptions of, healthfulness of, and preoccupation with, beauty. Some examples include Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty, companies manufacturing dolls with normal characteristics (and measurements) and those who offer more natural and healthy ways to enhance one's own idea of beauty. Natural beauty choices have, in fact, gained an extreme amount of popularity in recent years. For example Burt's Bees has, for some time now, been offering all-natural cosmetic and personal care options, organic clothing is now even being sold at retailers galore, and cosmetic companies like Erth Minerals have begun manufacturing mineral makeup that is made from just crushed minerals and therefore without unhealthy chemicals and preservatives. In short, the future of more healthful beauty and for increased options for satisfying our eternal, elusive, and subjective quest for beauty will continue to grow in the years to come.