Guest Post: Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder, with Deborah Barker
Updated: Jul 18
What a joy it is to welcome Deborah Barker to the blog this morning. She is such a brilliant artist whose eyes delight in treasuring work that not only captivates, but also calls for greater action. I met her this last year in University; drawn, as so many other's have been, by her desire to welcome all into a space so greatly defined by 'aesthetics.' It was such an honour collaborating with her a few months ago on the be close to the broken-hearted project, and I am thrilled to upload her thoughts on this month's theme.
My understanding of beauty has changed over the years. As a child I was able to differentiate between ugly and beautiful swiftly and without hesitation, then, as a teen, my worldview changed and I found the lines blurred. I held on to the concept that everything and everyone is beautiful in their own right. Nowadays, I've shifted between both extremes. My definition of beauty was either too narrow or too broad, neither described what I felt was the essence of the word.
Saying that the word is the embodiment of everyone and everything dilutes and devalues the idea of beauty in my opinion. I've realised that beauty is subjective, and the standard for what is beautiful changes from person to person, especially when it comes to appearances. Just ask a group of people who the most beautiful celebrity is, or ask people from different cultures to explain beauty, and you'll find wildly different examples of what is considered beautiful. I remember trying to explain the concept of tanning to a lady from Japan. She couldn't comprehend that someone would purposely go outside and sunbathe to become browner because she was surrounded by a culture that prized pale skin.
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
The quote has never wrung truer for me. I don't believe its small-minded when someone doesn't find something as beautiful as I do. Instead, I think it's a reflection on a truth we know all too well. No two humans are alike, and so, as they say, one man's trash might very well be another man's treasure. Beauty is encompassing; we experience it differently, and to ignore this true would be to ignore the diversity of the human race and this world we live in.
The issue, when it comes to outward appearance particularly, is when we value beauty too highly by equating ugly with worthless. The reason we care so much about beauty is because we, so often, believe it to be our value.
I used to think that being beautiful would influence the way I interacted with people----that being beautiful would determine how I felt internally. Now I realise that I was allowing other people's opinion to define my sense of 'beautiful.' I was trying to measure myself with a social-measuring-system that was and continues to change over time.
I still think that beauty influences the way I respond to others, and it is the knowledge of this that encourages me to aspire living beautiful.
So I stopped trying to be beautiful in the eyes of other people and, in that moment, I felt free. Free to find beauty in the lives around me. Free to embrace beauty in all its most personal, unifying forms.