When I first wrote about beauty i expressed a general concept that can have a universal validity but some areas of the aesthetic realm deserves some special attention, and human’s beauty is one of them.
The coincidence of beauty with a sense of peace can withstand the severe test of today’s topic but needs to be deepened. The peculiarity is that we’re dealing with humans here not with objects, we’re not talking about industrial design and software engineering; we have a constantly changing body, a character, a soul, an education, basic needs and much more sophisticated ones. We’re by far the best outcome of evolution, we differ from animals because we have intelligence and conscience. Our mind produces a wide range of feelings and one of them is arguably the strongest force in our existence: love. As I pointed out love intended as efforts, care and passion is a key factor in the creation of beauty. In this article we’re going to talk about romantic love. I think that the key concept to comprehend beauty is the relationship between external and internal beauty.
Starting with the first, the primitive part of our brain is involved. Females with curves are supposed to be more fertile than the ones without because they have a wider pelvis to deliver babies and a good amount of mammals glands to breastfeed the offspring. Strong men are supposed to better protect their family from predators. We can’t suppress it because it’s how we’re wired but we have evolved and nowadays we don’t have to protect the family from wild animals but we are required to take care of it with the money we earn, that’s why money and power are the muscles and curves of the modern society. Scientists trough history have tried to catch the essence of beauty, one of the most famous attempts is The Vitruvian Man by the Italian polymath Leonardo Da Vinci. In this drawing a man in two superimposed positions is inscribed in the figures that represent the earth and the heavens: the square and the circle. There’s an attempt to define the ideal proportions and symmetry plays an important role. It is one of the factors that modern researches into this matter have highlighted as very important. People with symmetrical faces are in general more attractive and this can be related with our primitive brain looking for less genetic or acquired defects. Seeing a very beautiful person is always a pleasure for our eyes. When I said: “(Beauty) In the darkest days it’s a flash of light that slashes a black canvas” i was thinking about the vision of an extremely beautiful person. It’s a very intense moment, i am relieved and at the same time confused: there’s still beauty in this world and therefore hope for everyone but how is it even possible to be so in line with the criterion of nature? All the reflections about beauty and art have to deal with nature. Can you believe some authors define artists as tools by which nature gives its rules to art? Models are often depicted next to beautiful flowers or other natural wonders in commercials because there’s a similarity between them and the highest expression of nature. There are some non universal but widely appreciated physical characteristics that are recognized as pleasant: imperfection free skin, smooth and shiny hairs, a balanced height weight proportion, a balanced thorso limbs proportion, a balance between the elements of the face such as lips, nose, eyes ,facial symmetry as said above, a good amount of curves for women and a good muscular trophism for men etc. If you’d ask me for a comprehensive definition I’d answer that I find the external beauty in a balance between the parts that gives me an enduring aesthetic pleasure.
It’s not over, the external beauty is almost nonexistent by itself alone because we constantly move. Have you ever thought that there are many different ways of moving? Does a call girl and Kate Middleton move in the same way? Ok that was extreme but you got it. The way people move, talk, the selection and amplitude of their vocabulary, the clothing and other details can reveal a lot about them. I am basically saying that internal beauty starts showing when someone moves but I can be even more severe: the way someone stands counts, just look around in a crowded place, 100 people 100 different ways of standing. Elegance, intelligence, purity, moral values, principles, kindness, dedication, interests, drives, goals, passions: these are some of the traits that are the quintessence of a person. We are what we stand for, what we know and what we use our knowledge for. I personally don’t want to surrender to my natural instincts, they are deceiving, I would like to detach from my body and live in a pure mental state in order to avoid the natural imperative of mating that degrades us to animals and it’s not even remotely pleasant as making love. This would allow me to be sure I’m genuinely charmed. Being aware of physical attraction is very easy, discovering mental attraction is a rare event. We don’t have to forget that pleasure is produced inside of our brain, therefore a total attraction will produce an incredibly higher pleasure. I think many relationships fail because of an original sin: there’s no connection, there’s a widely spread laziness about exploring to create a strong bond. We also have to be really careful with what we do to ourselves. We can’t stay in a relationship if we don’t have a wonderful opinion about our partner. Otherwise we lie to everyone but, like always, we can’t lie to ourselves. Consequences are a loss of self esteem, emotional issues and there’s always a slight chance of pregnancy: do we really want our child to have a parent we don’t care about? I also think that humans are like sponges: they absorb from the environment they live in and if you don’t like a person this means you think there’s a big negative part and, willing or not, you are going to be influenced by it and be a worse person at the end of the day. What’s inner beauty after all? May we define it as soul’s and mind’s brightness?
Like before, we’ve come to a sad point, what if a person is extraordinary inside but ugly on the outside (or viceversa)? This is sad only because our mind has an utopic idea of their necessary correspondence. Ever heard of the Italian poet and philosopher Giacomo Leopardi? He was one of the most influential thinkers of the 19th century. He was deformed by a particular form of tuberculosis that affects the spine and he couldn’t live the pleasures of youth but the lyrical peaks he reached are breathtaking. What about the theoretical physicists Stephen Hawking? Affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis he has such a beautiful mind that he devoted his life to find a “theory of everything ” to get rid of the incongruities between quantum mechanics and the theory of general relativity. “A simple but elegant equation that explain everything, wouldn’t it be nice, professor?”, a bold and magnificent lifetime goal. What about, on the other side, many vulgar and empty models or a sexy hit man? I think again that balance is required and beauty can only be partial if one of the two aspects is lacking. There’s a common opinion that beauty lies within and therefore there’s a favor towards the inner values. External beauty is a value in itself, it’s not true it’s just given, it has to be nurtured trough constant care that includes a correct diet, a regular exercise routine, a good amount of sleep and a general attention to health and wellbeing. I’ve seen many beautiful but neglected people. And it’s also false that inner beauty requires tremendous efforts, you can be born with a gentle soul, an incredible mental capacity to learn and memorize, specific a priori shapes that only need to be filled with knowledge or an out of the ordinary sensitivity. These qualities have to be protected without compromises and enhanced too. For these reasons I think it’s correct to put them on the same level.
Beauty is not just how someone looks or think, it’s the elusive combination of the inner and the outer, the gentle soul and a beautiful skin that feels a smooth rose petal, the just principles and sleek hands that shapes the world according to them, the harmony of the mind and the one of a perfectly shaped lips, the moral law and a passionate gaze of blue eyes that look at a fair world, the noble ideals and the proud and elegant moves, the fight for a cause and blonde straight hairs that shines from the sunlight reflected by the sea. This is beauty.
To be continued in part two…
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