It is important to take care of yourself and try to look your best. Letting your looks go or becoming unhealthy and sloppy is unappealing and disrespectful to yourself and those you love. On the other hand, when people focus exclusively on how they look in a vain effort to seek validation, they lose a certain vibrancy that comes from depth and self-confidence.
In today’s society of never-ending nips and tucks, we forget that the essence of beauty stems from a person’s inner vitality and depth. Vitality often results from leading a multi-dimensional life that involves pursuing one’s passions, being creative, having purpose, and carrying on meaningful relationships.
True beauty is reflected more by demeanor than by a person’s perfect features. In his autobiography, Alan Alda describes being backstage watching an actress play the part of a hideous woman. Alda thought the actress was perfect for the part—she was ugly, had thick fingers, no neck, and a pudgy nose. He was shocked when in the last act, she transformed into a beautiful woman without any change in makeup. Her fingers and neck actually became slender and long, and her face suddenly looked regal. He realized that the most dramatic transformation comes from the way people hold themselves.
Attractiveness is also a reflection of how we view ourselves. I have a cousin who has a long scar down one side of his face from an accident. When he was a teenager, his father told him that he looked disfigured and pressured him to get plastic surgery.
Embarrassed by his scar, he decided to get the surgery. A few days beforehand, his sister in law—a British catwalk model whom he adored—caught sight of him looking in the mirror while covering the “damaged” side of his face with shaving cream to see how it would look if it were gone. When he told her about the impending surgery, she leaned toward him and whispered emphatically, “Don’t do it. It’s dreadfully sexy.” Her comment transformed the way he viewed his physical appearance, and needless to say, he kept the scar as an asset.
Why People Seek Beauty
Being admired for being attractive feels good. When something feels good, it’s easy to want more of it, whether it’s beauty, wealth, popularity, fame, food, or wine. A dentist once told me “You can never be too beautiful or too rich.” Yet, there is a point where too much focus on beauty (or anything else) tragically takes away from other important facets of your life.
Desperate efforts to look young or sexy sends the message that you have nothing to offer but your youth and beauty.
A person with perfect features and flawless skin who feels insecure and resentful cannot, and does not, radiate beauty, only anxiety. When people start “running for their lives”—i.e., running to plastic surgeons biannually, the message they send is one of fear and insecurity. There will always be younger and more beautiful people, so why not appreciate and cultivate greater depth and breadth within ourselves?
How others view you does not lead to fulfillment.
Too much emphasis on our looks steals from us the enjoyment of many other pursuits—intellectual, athletic, and spiritual, for example. How we look has little to do with the fulfillment that comes from meaningful relationships, humor, and creativity, as well as from work, wisdom, solitude, and philanthropy.
Skin-deep beauty, particularly if manufactured, will only attract others who are not interested in much else. Lacking depth and substance, even the most gorgeous woman or handsome man will receive only superficial and short-term interest from others, usually from people looking for a hot evening, a trophy wife, or a cabana boy.
Imagine being extremely beautiful or handsome, and receiving endless adulation. Although the attention may feel good, it can also create increased dependency on other...