Virtues and Vices Part 1: Beauty and Vanity

Hello, and welcome to my #mondayblogs post.  I was inspired by my friend Galit Breen to post today about physical appearances and beauty, the difference between the two, and how that ties into my soon-to-be-published book.  Enjoy

Something new I added during my rewrite of The Curious Snowflake was an emphasis on what I call Virtues and Vices.  In TCS, the main character travels to all different parts of the Great Cloud in search of answers about life, and each shape of snowflake represents a different philosophy here on Earth.  The star-shaped flakes represent atheism, the needle-shaped flakes polytheism, and the pebble-shaped flakes monotheism.

Each life-philosophy has a particular virtue it prizes over all others.  Atheism, since it has no concept of an afterlife, prizes personal accomplishment, which in TCS I simplify into Beauty.  Monotheism, with its belief in single lifetimes, emphasizes living in accordance to divine laws, which I simplify into Goodness.  Polytheism, with its belief in reincarnation and Karma, emphasizes personal striving towards an ideal of spiritual perfection, which I simplify into Courage.  Each of these Virtues also has a corrupted form which comes into play when an individual places too much emphasis on the appearance of virtue rather than virtue itself.  Courage changes to Recklessness, Goodness into Pride, and Beauty into Vanity.  For this first part, I would like to talk about the last of these three.

We live in a society that places incredible emphasis on external appearances, especially for women, but teaches us almost nothing about the true nature of beauty.  Dress size, perfect hair, flawless makeup, chiseled jawline, washboard abs, pouty lips, these are not beauty and have nothing to do with beauty.  These are attractiveness.  These are nothing more than biological posturing, remnants of our animalistic past where finding a mate was all about passing on good genes and nothing more.  Physical attractiveness is simply a billboard for your DNA.  Strong, even teeth, glossy thick hair, flat stomachs, good musculature, these are indicative of a healthy lifestyle, which promotes you as a good hunter or smart gatherer.  Wide hips and full breasts in women; muscular arms and broad chest and shoulders in men; long legs, upright posture, and clear eyes in both sexes; these are indicators of good genetic material and nothing more.  They are not beauty, they are vanity, pure and simple.

Beauty is something completely different.

Beauty is an indicator of who you are, not how you appear.  A Beautiful person is someone who is on the path to who they truly wish to be and advertises it to the world with neither shame nor hesitation.  Think of a time in your life when you were around someone who was truly on a path forward to their dreams.  What was that person like?  Didn’t they seem to glow, to have an almost magnetic field around them?  Didn’t you feel yourself drawn to them, regardless of their appearance or their gender?  That is Beauty.

Think now about the great souls who have populated this world over the last century or so.  Think of a Mahatma Gandhi, a Mother Teresa, a Dalai Lama.  Were these physically attractive people?  Lord, no, but they were and are Beautiful people.  Think of someone who truly inspired you at some point in your life.  For me it was an old college voice coach who was about as wide as he was tall, but I think back about Jim Parks and he is one of the most Beautiful people in my personal experience.

As I said in my previous blog post here, my goal with TCS is to show a new way of thinking about the world, one sharable with all ages and all generations.  This shift towards a healthier perspective on Beauty is one part of that.

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