Sunday, January 17, 2010

Defining Beauty

One may ask, what is beauty? Beauty has been, for centuries, a very vague term. If I ask you who is more beautiful, Angelina Jolie or Catherine Zeta Jones, surely, the answer would depend on your taste as "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder", but the basic measurement of beauty is still indeed in the superficial level. But if I now ask you again whether you think Angelina Jolie is more beautiful than Mother Theresa or the other way around, then your basic measurement of beauty would then change. That's when you become confused and would then ask yourself what beauty is for you, which is a very common mistake. A fallacy, to be precise. It is a fallacy which I am not sure if Aristotle had taken note of but which I am quite sure has been caused by being too poetic and literary of the idealistic minds, transferring one attribute to the other. So Plato, despite writing his works in dialogues and literary forms, had been right when he criticized literature for tending to be deceptive so as to leading people into a different realm other than reality and rationality, after all.
What is wrong when you say that Mother Theresa is more beautiful than Angelina Jolie? It is attributing something aesthetic to something that is based not on aesthetics but on moral grounds. It is one thing to say Mother Theresa is a good, regardless of the fact that "good" is relative, but another to say that she is beautiful, unless you really think she is "prettier"(to use a more worldly term) than Angelina Jolie.
This is a common error especially among the Filipino people, of which the reason, might I suggest, is our clinging to the Western "Maganda ang Maputi" or something to that sense. Why do you think is Belo very popular nowadays? Why, almost every woman dreams of a pointed nose, high cheekbone, deep set eyes, or something in that range, some features that resemble those of a Caucasian's. Now why do we resort to the definition of beauty as something that is beyond physical? Something that is of diginity, pride, and pure-heartedness when those attributes are not aesthetic but rather, moral, therefore leading the categorical sense of ethics? It is a compensation for not being Caucasian. But you know, that's wrong. Beauty is physical, and it will always be physical. But then, it is still relative which is the reason why different people would have different answers when I ask them the question whether Catherine or Anglina is more beautiful.
This fallacy, is due to the loss of defining our own identity as Filipina women, or whatever nationality we have other than Caucasian. Hollywood is just too influential and all too good at imposing the measurements of beauty when Precious Lara Quigaman  can be just as beautiful as Catherine Zeta Jones or Angelina Jolie without looking as one of their maids. It is the scapegoat for not being white.
Well, guess what. You don't have to compensate. The thing is, Filipino women tend to be trying hard copycats of the Hollywood fakes, instead of letting their own physical beauty shine. Really, you have your own beauty, so you don't have to compensate for it by saying the cliche that beauty lies in the inner qualities of a person because y then, that wouldn't be called beauty but instead, goodness.

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