Something's been nibbling at my brain lately. I think about it during odd moments of the day, trying to resolve some inner conflict about what being beautiful means to me. I have always believed that being beautiful is important but - why? This all started when I saw the Dove ad.
The message is simple, yet powerful: we are more beautiful than we think. According to the video, how we perceive ourselves physically affect the way we handle our relationships, the jobs we take, pretty much every aspect of our lives. Taken at face value, that sounds exceedingly shallow. Being beautiful certainly shouldn't be our raison d'être and/or the delicate scale by which we measure our self-worth. There are far more important and valuable things to nurture, such as our unique set of skills and talents, our knowledge, our love, kindness, and empathy for others.
But we live in a world where people judge us by our looks. That's a hard fact to swallow, but it also makes sense to me as a survival instinct. We judge a person's face and the way he or she dresses and that impression guides us in our relationship with that person moving forward. Guide, not control, alright. Is this stranger going to pull me into a windowless van? Is she going to help my company grow? Is he someone I could spend the rest of my life with? Those questions may not be something that we process consciously, but I believe we do it.
Can you look me in the eye and tell me you've never judged a person's appearance before? Ever?
It's easier to be successful if you are a physically beautiful person, or if you find ways to improve yourself in that direction. It's better to be a talented, good person. But in the end, being beautiful both inside and outside, spells a crucial advantage in the competition for better jobs and relationships. Survival of the fittest, I think that's called.
Why do I believe in this strongly? Well, I grew up believing I was ugly. I knew I was smart. I had no lack of self-confidence in my skills but was aware, in a matter-of-fact way, without self-hatred, that I was not conventionally beautiful. I was also aware that there was something I could do about that, so I took better care of myself and learned how to wield cosmetics and clothes like a weapon.
And now here I am, where I wanted to be. My "project vanity" was a success. Sure I don't look like a beauty queen, but let's just say that my packaging and personal brand have come a long way.
BUT. This only matters because I work in an industry that sells beauty and self-expression through personal style. I would still hold that working on who you are inside is ultimately more fulfilling and rewarding in the long run. You'll be a happier person this way versus just obsessing about physical beauty. :)
However, if you are so inclined and have some time and money to spare, it certainly wouldn't hurt to be vain.