On the Subjectivity of Beauty

Beauty is no quality in things themselves: It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them; and each mind perceives a different beauty. One person may even perceive deformity, where another is sensible of beauty; and every individual ought to acquiesce in his own sentiment, without pretending to regulate those of others. (David Hume, 1757)

This is my first blog…and for some narcissistic reason, I’m nervous as I write it. Why narcissistic, you may ask? Because my nerves are caused by the thought of what others will think while reading my blog, assuming that anyone will read it at all. I’ve always been very hard on myself when it comes to my own writing, very self-critical. I have to remind myself that the point here isn’t to achieve perfection in my prose, but to express my opinion, and hopefully improve the quality of my writing naturally. I digress, because the topic of writing isn’t what inspired me to begin writing somewhat publicly. The topic of beauty is on my mind, after a personal experience I had recently.

Before I dive into this story, I want to preface this by saying that I am not writing this to put anyone or any company “on blast”, my intention is not to start drama. I simply want to share my experience, and my thoughts following it.

Yesterday morning, as I was leaving GoodLife, feeling particularly good after a high intensity work out, I decided last minute that I should probably get my eyebrows done. My hair was tied back, I had no makeup on, and naturally I was in sweats because well, I had just left the gym, but this doesn’t phase me as it once had as a teenager. See, as a teenager, I probably wouldn’t have been caught dead without makeup on in public, but my confidence has sky-rocketed in comparison (Thank Goodness). And to be real, I just don’t give a shit if I don’t look “perfect” in public, why would I? Anyways-In this haggard state, I went to the salon for a quick eyebrow wax. When the aesthetician examined my face, she scolded me, in a joking manner of course, for “playing” with my eyebrows too much. Apparently my eyebrows are sparse and I had botched my arch. This, I understand, she would point out, because she was in the midst of doing my brows. She assured me that it would be no easy task, but she would do her very best to fix my mistakes. Whatever, I thought, this is her job. She then told me she would show me how to fill my brows in, to make them appear more even. I never fill in my eyebrows- I love makeup, and I find great joy in creating new looks, but I just don’t touch my eyebrows. When she filled in my eyebrows, I honestly thought I looked like a clown, but I didn’t want to insult her work, so I told her they looked great and thanked her for giving me tips. She then tried to sell me a $50 eyebrow kit, which I declined, because I just can’t justify $50 on eyebrow gunk that I will never find use in.

Then, during a conversation about eyeliner, she told me since I have “droopy eyes”, I should use their gel liner and gave me tips on how to give my eyes more of a “lift”. Umm, Ok, not cool, but I just laughed inside because, I’m 22, and not once have I looked at my own eyes and thought “man those are droopy”. To top it all off, she wanted to sell me a facial treatment, and pointed out the imperfections on my skin, but if I spend just $40, my imperfections will be fixed! Finally, when she asked to see my teeth to determine if I needed a whitening treatment, I decided to pay and get the hell out of there. I didn’t tip. All of this happened in a 10 minute time period, I was scared if I stayed a minute longer, she would start examining the rest of my body. I left perplexed. Thank God that wasn’t 16 year-old me sitting in that chair, because that would have destroyed me. Until recent years, other people’s opinions in terms of my looks had a serious affect on my own opinion of myself, luckily I’ve grown since then.

The reason I’ve been so inspired to write on this topic is because of my own opinion on beauty. To me, beauty is so subjective, it is so personal, and as Hume said, beauty exists in the mind that contemplates it. My imperfections, or deformities as Hume states, in her mind, are simply part of what makes me me. For years my imperfect skin really tortured me, I couldn’t let anyone see my skin, and as a result, I never let my natural skin see the light of day, as I’d layer foundation and concealers all over it. Not to say I don’t wear makeup now, because I certainly do, but I also go out without it, and either way, I’m comfortable with how I look. And I’ve found people in my life who accept me for who I am, and also, for who I’m not. But of utmost importance, I’ve found acceptance in myself. I’ll never be perfect, all I can be is myself, and there’s nothing more beautiful than just embracing everything that makes you you. I realize that is super corny, but it is so true to me! Especially since confidence was such a journey for me, and for so many women AND men of all ages.

The biggest message I want to get across, or lesson I suppose, Is that no one except you can define what beauty is to you. Find beauty in things other than materialism, vanity or what you should find beautiful. Follow your own path. Don’t let someone talk you into redefining who you are because they don’t find it beautiful. Beauty isn’t static.

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