My Self and Beauty

“Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.” – Plato

I have heard variations of Plato‘s philosophy throughout my life. It resonated somewhat, but not deeply. I am a work in progress.

I understand the different people like different things. And there’s no denying that parents who think newborns are beautiful are somewhat biased. But, still… When discussing body image with my granddaughter I really began to understand more about the meaning of this adage to me.

I think all women in my acquaintance have some problems with body issues. We are fed the media images of beauty. We are subjected to uninterrupted advertising for hair, make up, clothing, jewelry and many other things to make us beautiful. In other words, the message is we are not! This angst doesn’t abate for aging women – it just changes.

And women have become, as a rule, our own worst enemies. In groups the most common conversation leads off with comments about denying oneself food, drink, or any other pleasure in order to fit the societal norm of beauty. As we see it.

My granddaughter shared her closely held core belief before she went into treatment for an eating disorder, “You can’t be too thin or too rich”. I see her struggling still – although she knows the drill and is she is observing the rules, – she is dismayed at the fact that she has gained a few pounds. Those who love her would say that she is more beautiful now. She doesn’t stand slumped as if ashamed of being. Her face has filled out. She is coming into her own in her 30s, making good on the promise of womanly beauty.

Oh, there it is again, the judgment of beauty. What about other cultures. What about other opinions? What about people born without the symmetry required for classic beauty? Are those people doomed to live without love? Of course not!

In my rational mind I know that there are all types, all shapes of couples. Men who love round women. Men and women who love short round men. Women who love muscular women. And couples who waddle through the store with their grocery cart, filling it with delightful things to eat. Maybe not healthy or slenderizing, but delightful. And they share a joy in buying and eating them.

In contrast to myself who always has an inner critic. Is that healthy? Is it addictive? Is it too salty, too sweet, too filled with sugar and fat? Or, let’s forget about health for a minute and talk about how much my decisions are driven by my desire to be able to zip my pants. And the fact that I am afraid of outgrowing them. Because what would happen then?

My husband loves me. We’re past the point of immaturity where we would judge each other by our bodily attributes or failures. Is it possible that I finally have a personal interpretation of Plato’s philosophy. I can choose how I see myself. If I can love myself as much as I love those beautiful people around me, I will live in the rosy glow of my own approval.



  1. I entirely agree. What is beautiful for one person need not be for another. This is so subjective that I recall what a famous painter here told me once in an exhibition that the way to judge a painting when deciding to buy it or not is to personally like it or not and not go by what critics say.


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