“She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn't beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul. She is beautiful.” -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Beautiful and the Damned”
I was reminded of this poignant quote today as I opened my newsfeed to see blaring announcements that People Magazine had named Jennifer Aniston its “Most Beautiful Woman.” As I read the article about Anniston’s eating habits and exercise plan, I first felt a slight twinge of jealousy for her remarkable genes. Then, it dawned on me how empty the article was.
There is no doubt that Aniston is a physically attractive woman, but I can’t help but think we are missing out on something by confining our definition of beauty to a magazine cover. The beauty that Fitzgerald describes certainly can’t be reflected by a glossy photo. Pictures can’t capture the sparkle in the eyes or the ability to make others smile.
Are we doing a dishonor to beauty by naming someone “Most Beautiful Woman” based only on her physical appearance? There are many women who would never grace the pages of People’s “Most Beautiful,” but it is a shame to ignore them and the beauty they bring to the world.
Is perfect hair more beautiful than Mother Theresa’s selflessness? Are toned arms more valuable than Rosa Park’s bravery? Is an expertly contoured face lovelier than Malala Yousafzai’s boldness? What about the intellect of Sally Ride?
Is perfect hair more beautiful than Mother Theresa’s selflessness? Are toned arms more valuable than Rosa Park’s bravery? Is an expertly contoured face lovelier than Malala Yousafzai’s boldness? What about the intellect of Sally Ride? The list could go on for pages.
Beauty means more than aesthetic appeal, and women have more to offer than their appearance. There is even more to Jennifer Aniston’s beauty than her stunning looks. Our world would be a much less ugly place, if we redefined our conception of beauty to that of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s.
The truth is, everyone can be beautiful. Everyone can be selfless or brave or bold. Everyone has a bit of beauty to offer the world. We should all strive to be the kind of beautiful that a magazine can’t reflect. We should offer a sparkle or a smile to those around us, and make sure our beauty is forever – right down to our souls.