In response to today’s prompt by The Daily Post, I believe that beauty is absolutely in the eye of the beholder, but for reasons that may be different than you’d expect.
People only perceive beauty in an external stimulus if it reflects the beauty that they consciously, or subconsciously, see within themselves.
I’m not just talking about the degree to which we might perceive another person to be physically attractive or unattractive. I am referring more generally to the beauty of life.
I’m not a mother, but I believe that only a mother can truly understand – and ultimately see – the beauty of pregnancy, a newborn baby, and their own child’s smile or the sound of their laughter. I’m not suggesting that I didn’t appreciate my sister’s beauty as a pregnant woman, or my nephews’ first everything, or their gorgeous smiles and giggles. I just figure that my sister sees that beauty even more because she and her husband created it. (I must point out, however, that there is one flaw in my theory: I’m currently listening to one of my nephews sounding out new words over the phone. He just said my name for the first time and my heart melted. I’m not sure anyone could see the beauty in that more than I do).
As someone who deeply appreciates the beauty of the outdoors, I am always astonished to meet people who don’t love being outside or crave exposure to nature. Part of why I love the outdoors is because I feel inextricably connected to natural life. I appreciate the beauty in my surroundings because I feel that they are a part of me, and, I, a part of them.
I often cry happy tears when I witness the beauty of love because I feel so deeply loved by my friends and family. I cry because I’m so damn lucky. That started when my grandfather passed away and I was overwhelmed by the support I received from friends and family. I recall people commenting on how beautiful our family was – how special it was. That was ten years ago, and the dynamic of my extended family has changed drastically since then, but I still see its beauty – it’s uniqueness – even if it is a little tarnished these days.
When we are passionately attracted to another human being, we may second guess our own intentions and be inclined to believe our intentions are purely superficial. I suspect it’s more than that. It helps explain why we are all attracted to different people. We are attracted to the imperfections in others that reflect the imperfections we see in ourselves. How could that not be beautiful? It’s what makes us human.
Ani DiFranco once sang, “Everyone harbours a secret hatred for the prettiest girl in the room.” The great thing about my theory is that it means we can finally start to appreciate the way the beauty we see in others is a reflection of the beauty within us. Maybe it will help us to see ourselves in a more positive light. Perhaps the next time we are struck by someone’s beauty, we can push hatred aside. Instead, we might ask ourselves what aspect of this person’s beauty is most reflective of our own.