I’m eating at a restaurant, and I overhear a mother at the next table warning her little daughter.
“Stop talking so loud; people will look at you and see your ugly freckles!”
I unconsciously glance in their direction, and I’m shocked to see the little girl looking back at me.
Looking for an answer.
I hide my anxiety with a stoned face stare. Now her big eyes start watering and as she begins crying, I feel her whole world collapsing.
During the weeks afterward, I felt guilty for the child’s pain and for not knowing what to do.
All sorts of anguish and anger awakened within me. Old wounds were festering. I was forced, against my usual complacency, to try to understand why this incident so deeply disturbed me.
Too often I have been a victim or even perpetrator of torment caused by myths about beauty. My worst experiences are when children were the helpless targets.
But these myths are so deeply hidden within our culture and subconscious minds that our actions are automatic. We don’t even know why we do what we do, or say what we say.
Because I wanted to stop living with these pains and problems, I dug into my dark and deranged subconscious and worked for some time to find causes of my torment. Eventually, I became aware of these 9 harmful myths about human beauty.
Myth #1: She is unbelievably beautiful
Compared to what?
Majestic mountains, billowing clouds against a deep blue sky, luscious forests?
And how about the many animal species such as birds, the fauna of a coral reef, reptiles and don’t forget our friends – cats and dogs. These all display bright, contrasting, stunning colors. Many of these are also elegant, graceful, musical, loving, noble, brave and loyal.
No wonder humans have always imitated these beautiful animals. For centuries we have worn their feathers and skins as decorations and felt honored to do so.
In a beauty contest with these magnificent beings, humans do not even register.
Myth #2: She has a natural beauty
What people think of as human beauty is mostly – FAKING IT!
Clothes that hide the human body with colors, textures, and shapes that are alien to humanity.
Just imagine how people dress for gala events, like the Oscar awards in Hollywood. The bright colorful and sparkling clothes people wear. Or the makeup which hides flaws or adds unusual features. And how about accentuating a person’s qualities? Isn’t that more like stretching the truth?
I find it amusing to imagine all the actors arriving at the Oscars dressed as if they just got out of bed; wearing saggy gray pajamas, no makeup and their hair a mess. Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha! How odd it would be to see real people.
I do feel there is a natural beauty to humans, but let’s not confuse that reality with the beauty of clothes and other props.
Myth #3: She is ten times more beautiful than the average person
Let’s be honest, when ranking human beauty against all other species, humans are on a level close to pigs. That’s why that old insult is so hurtful. You know the one.
“Like putting lipstick on a pig.”
Because it’s so close to the truth. Get over it! Humans just aren’t that pretty.
Our best features are not physical beauty and grace.
Myth #4: Beauty is important for sexual attraction
Sexual attraction is not so much physical beauty as it is the whole story you tell. Remember, human beauty is mostly faking it. Intelligent people know this and don’t focus only on appearances.
Sexual attraction has become an art form, where natural beauty is a small part of the whole package.
As an art form, what counts is how creatively, intelligently and uniquely you blend your natural beauty with your other qualities. In other words, prove you have skills and potentials.
Go figure. Even the stunning Birds of Paradise have to go beyond their good looks and perform elaborate dances or build attractive nests to win a female.
And don’t forget, your long-term compatibility is far more important to your happiness than momentary lust.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with having it all, as long as the most valuable human qualities receive their proper emphasis.
A vast majority of the hype about human appearances comes from marketing. People want to sell you something or take advantage of you, and the first step is to gain your confidence by telling you how irresistibly handsome or beautiful you are. If you believe that, I wish to sell you the Golden Gate Bridge at a price you can’t refuse.
Myth #5: First impressions are all-important
Yes, but the situation decides which impression is best.
You don’t want to look like a million dollars if you’re on a rescue mission to a natural disaster. If you are auditioning for a movie part, the role may require you to look grungy. If you want to command a military task force, don’t look pretty.
The 30-second elevator speech is a “first impression.” Pushing your good looks would direct attention away from your pitch.
On any first meeting, after the first five minutes of enjoying the eye candy, its value drops quickly, and many other qualities explode in importance while physical beauty recedes, especially if some personality problem poisons the experience.
Myth #6: Beautiful people are the happiest
Only if your goals are shallow and shortsighted.
For relationships longer than one night, there is no correlation between beauty and happiness.
Handsome people often have greater difficulties, because of the unreasonable expectations they and their partners have. Just look at the personal lives of some of the most beautiful movie actors and see how successful they were in their relationships.
The opposite is also true. I have known several people who chose spouses that were not attractive, hoping that they would be less likely to be unfaithful. Not only did this not work, but the results were disastrous.
Finding love, respect, fairness, loyalty, and commitment have nothing to do with beauty and everything to do with the character of the partner you choose.
When choosing a partner, first figure out what personality characteristics you need and then understand the associated signs and warnings of faults, none of which has to do with appearances.
Beauty does attract men, but this can become an unwelcome burden since all sorts of characters will be pulled in.
Myth #7: Beautiful people are the most successful
Unfortunately, beautiful people are more likely to be spoiled, under-challenged and underdeveloped. That’s because they’ve been treated too special.
They just don’t need to work very hard, or at least that is what they think.
Being successful usually requires an enormous amount of focus, work, and sacrifice which are mostly nonvisible. I don’t blame people for taking the easiest path, but they also get what they deserve.
Myth #8: “I’m looking S-O-O-O-O-O-O GOOD!”
Occasionally I walk past a senior lady with beautiful auburn hair, and when I glance back at her, I see a silvery white circle of hair where the real hair color has grown out. It makes me chuckle and think something like this.
“Who do you think you're fooling?”
“You're only fooling yourself!”
“Everybody knows you’re faking it!”
When people try to look much younger than they are, they often achieve the opposite. If an older person has dark hair with no gray, it clashes with the wrinkles and pale skin color.
Don’t put blazing spotlights on your worst features!
Soften the wrinkles by blending in some hair colors of your age.
People may tell you to fake your beauty so you will feel more confident. But I think this weakens self-confidence.
First, fakers believe their superficial appearances are more important than their personality, skills, and the honesty of their relationships. Then, they decide the best they can do is to lie about whom they are. Then they constantly worry about whom will discover the truth. Then when people ask questions, the faker must decide whether to lie more or lie less. Most fakers decide to lie more. All these self-destructive ideas will pound a person into the ground.
Faking-it creates a slippery slope of declining confidence that continuously gets steeper and steeper.
Sometimes people hurt themselves much more than their worst enemy.
Myth #9: “I like people that look like me.”
You are entitled to your biases and preferences about physical appearance.
But consider this. Humans are a narrow sliver of diversity. In comparison, consider our cats and dogs. Unlike us, they come in a wide variety of colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes. If anything, humanity needs more diversity. We, humans, are such a narrow gene pool that if a new deadly virus emerges, it could kill every person on the planet. Isn't it odd that some people hate our puny diversity?
What drives a wedge between people is not our physical appearances, it’s the clash of myths which cause disagreements, and sometimes a fight to the death.
Where can we excel beyond all other species? It’s in our abilities to be creative, understanding and helpful.
Take a moment to recall all the people you have known. I think those who treated you with respect and kindness will be the ones you hold dearest in your heart. I believe these are the people who changed your life for the better.
Climbing out of the muck
I have worked through my confusion and misconceptions and arrived at an understanding of what human beauty is and is not. I have presented my proof that human beauty is not just superficial appearances, but much more. Real beauty is respect, kindness, helping people and blending these activities into a productive and creative art form. With this knowledge, I can now change the way I think and respond when someone uses these cruel myths.
These myths about beauty have done far too much harm to us all.
It’s time for everyone to recognize these lies for what they are: exaggerations, nasty tricks, and vicious attacks on a person’s mental stability.
As an intelligent species, we must learn to understand ourselves, why we do the things we do, and then do better.
The myths about beauty now are exposed. But it's up everyone to use this information to change lives for the better.
From now on, I will balance my encouragements and discouragements by giving a higher status to the more important qualities that humans have.
The next time I see a little girl cry, I will do my best to help. Maybe, I will just smile the biggest, happiest smile I can and shyly wave my hand as a sign of kinship. After all, we do belong to a very narrow gene pool.