What Price Beauty

What is the function beauty in our day-to-day life?

This is a very personal question that each of us must answer. What is the function of beauty in our society, how does it facilitate our advancement and success. What does it draw from and to us in life? If we are beautiful, can we skate across the pond without the ice cracking beneath us? If others believe we are beautiful do we get a pass on all that is ugly in life, able to blithely walk through dark forests without the wolf crossing our path, or must we be convinced of our own beauty for this to be true?

What price beauty? What are we willing to pay, to sacrifice to prevent the mirror from shattering?

Are the questions above the right questions at all? There are many definitions of beauty, over the years these definitions have changed in our minds eye, however the ‘correct’ definition is given to us by Merriam-Webster, below; how we then interpret the qualities are an entirely different standard all together.

1 : the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit : loveliness 2 : a beautiful person or thing; especially : a beautiful woman 3 : a particularly graceful, ornamental, or excellent quality 4 : a brilliant, extreme, or egregious example or instance <that mistake was a beauty (Merriam Webster , 2011)

The question of beauty, what it means particularly to us as women is one that someday must be answered. One day we might say to much or to little is the price already paid by our young girls, our daughters even our mothers. Nevertheless each of us must say something so we might move through the world with some confidence, dignity and comfort in our skin. Those sly comments we hear beginning at a young age if we are imperfect in any way, if we are short or chubby; if we are clumsy or we are late to bloom, those terrible asides all serve to shake us to the core. Worse those terrible commentaries of our shortcomings, our flaws compared to cousin Jane or the neighbor next door come from those who should be our greatest cheerleader, our booster the one person in our lives that

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should see no blemish in us, ever. We are brought low, dropped to our knees in fact, by what can only be their clear vision of our lack of beauty. This then is our fate, how the mirror will forever reflect us; unlovely no matter what we do to change our external self the voices in our head will forever yammer on;

‘You have such a pretty face if only you would lose a few pounds’.

‘Cousin Jane has such nice skin, with her peaches and cream complexion maybe you should stay out of the sun so you don’t turn so brown’.

‘I don’t know where you get those thick ankles they must come from your father’s side of the family you look like a peasant woman’.

‘I am sure you will grow out of the baby fat stage eventually, though most of your friends are already much thinner than you. Maybe we should put you on a diet’.

‘We will just have to make the most of what you do have, after all you are smart. Lots of girls find husbands even though they aren’t great beauties like your cousin’.

There are so many other examples, so many mirror-shattering statements our mothers and grandmothers, aunts and even fathers say to their daughters. By the time a she is a teenager her self-image can be destroyed, possibly for life. How a young girl and later the woman she becomes acts on these soul shattering characterizations of who she is will define her for years to come, the consequences could be life altering.

What price beauty?

What do we pay for the soul shattered and ego battered women of the most recent

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generations? Maybe a better question is this, what have they paid for what has been done to them by their families, by well-meaning friends and not so well meaning peers, by society and the media. What debt is owed for Toddlers in Tiara’s and beauty queens unable to form coherent sentences or identify the current President of the United States? How do we repatriate into normal society? How do we begin to convince these women whose mirrors tell them daily their value is less, far less based on the extra five pounds they carry or their lack of perfectly symmetrical features, that in fact they have a value beyond their surface.

What price beauty when taken against the value of a woman’s soul?

What price beauty when compared to a lifetime of diminished opportunity and self-inflicted battery.

What do you see when you look at me? Do you judge me by the circumference of my hips? Do you evaluate my intellect by what you guess is my dress size? Do you speculate I am  lazy and without self-control? Do you presume to know me before we have been

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introduced, before you know my story. What price beauty and the judgment of a society that has failed so far to find value beyond the surface of a woman.

What is the function of beauty? It opens doors for women everywhere. The price we pay in not meeting the standard is diminished opportunity for love, for work, for friendship even. Perhaps we can be the fat friend, the ugly friend; you know the one every clique wants and needs but we will never fit and never be fully part of anything because we don’t believe in our own value, our mirror was shattered long ago.

What price, the price of our soul the only true value we had we paid thousands of time over.


  1. Thanks Kurt. Sorry for the late response but I do appreciate you reading and commenting.

  2. I realize precisely how epidemic cosmetic surgery truly is. Other than for reconstructive reasons, why do Americans in particular have such an obsession with (just to take the most popular) breast augmentation? I understand the correction of syndromes, like Turner’s, but truly not the incessant (totally my opinion following) insecurity necessary to spend the money, time and risk to have as much or more than the neighbor, the best friend, the ex or the next woman.

    PS My “occasionally” is truly a rare, special occasion. I am a serial stereotyper.

    • I understand the obsessions, all of them. I understand where the stem from and how destructive those hurtful words can be. I ‘get’ how hard our egos fall when those words are said to us as children and as adults. Chasing Beauty isn’t just the name of a movie it is a symptom of a much greater problem.

  3. Knowing the price and the cost my friend, I suspect as we grow older we all try to step back from our judgments. Yet, I also suspect we fall short more often than we would wish. I know I do.

  4. Having been judged my entire life (and even more so now than ever), I do all in my power to assume zero by a person’s appearance. Am I successful? Occasionally. When I fail, I try to be still and listen to the person in order to gain enough insight to know the true character.

    Alas, in today’s society, I have succumbed to dying my hair darker. I was seriously tired of people talking to me more slowly than others. *sigh*

  5. Linda, I believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it what one see and believe with their heart. True beauty comes from within the heart and soul. I have friends that are fat, some that are ugly, short and to tall. But they are beautiful to me because they are in my heart. I don’t judge people on their looks, I go by their personality, how they treat others and most of all how they treat me as a person. This subject is a hard one to deal with, but definitely something that needs to be answered. hope you find the answers you are looking for.

    • I always challenge these statements Jim. How many times have you seen a stranger and judged them by their outward appearance, by their dress, the car they drive or any number of other things that we as a society measure people on. Beauty isn’t just one thing but many. We would all like to believe we don’t judge but in fact we do, we can’t help it it is our nature. We might get beyond it once we know a person but our initial reaction is to evaluate and judge. It begins when we are children and continues throughout our lives.

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