Beautiful Girl

11 02 2009

whoa-mag2

The problem with beauty pageants really stems from our misunderstanding of beauty itself.  My friend expressed her view more bluntly:  There is really no point to the blasted things.  They make little girls squeal, old women smile, and young ladies, save (sometimes) one, cry.  In a very real way, it’s a sad thing to see so many people deceive themselves into believing that a parade of glossed-up girls displaying their talents/beliefs/natural endowments is in any way beautiful.

While the archetype of the feminine no longer resides in the forest of Diana, it hasn’t fully succumbed to Tomb Raider either.  Our culture seems to yearn for the innocent girl of fairy tales, but unlike ancient Anglo ideals, she must also be noticeably tanned by years of experience.  The Real Lady must both recognize the base for what it is, but she should not flee from it; the princess can now wield her own sword, but she must never be thought of as a common warrior.  A king dying in battle is noble, but the princess does not join combat with impunity — she must eventually revert to at least an outward austerity that displays the beauty of the female, both aware of and above men’s petty battles.  This is why many of the girls at the pageant chose to display their kickboxing talents instead of dancing or singing.  They know that more (“other” would be a better word, perhaps?) is expected of the female than a simply demure and coquettish demeanor.  She must be capable of deciding before deferring to man.

What this looks like, however, is much less a “whole woman” and much more a quasi-hermaphroditic display of every conceivably desirable trait of humanity.  Even the “health and fitness” (read: swimsuit) competition is as much about muscles as it is about form.  We demand a woman who is tame, but only because she chooses to be.  In one of the more disgusting comparisons I can think of, the desire for such a being most closely resembles the master-pet relationship.  (HEADS UP:  This is not misogyny. This is nothing but an illustration of how perverted the world’s perception of gender and beauty has become.  I love the ladies.)  Lara Croft is “attractive” both because she is supposed to possess the ideal womanly form and because she can shoot dead anyone she wants without a second thought.  Put simply, the ideal woman can both wield a gun and be convinced to holster it by the ideal man.  The powerful woman is desirable both because she is dangerous and because she can be subdued.

Dante (to take a few liberties) portrayed the Beautiful as being best seen in the face of Beatrice because that was/is the most obvious place to look for echoes of God’s beauty.  If a beautiful woman is a rose, Dante sought to show what part of beauty a rose recalls for us.  The Beautiful cannot be truly seen by our mortal eyes, but we can perhaps see a glimpse of it in the best part of a rose.

Our culture, however, has done precisely the opposite.  To express why a rose is beautiful, they seek to add more thorns.  The world cannot express real beauty because it denies What It Is that beautiful things point to, so it instead seeks to cover everything else with so much dross that any meager reflection of beauty we have on earth begins to look brighter by comparison.

I’m hardly qualified to delve even this far into such a discussion, but those were some of the thoughts that made watching a “beauty pageant” so saddening.  As one who has been prone (and, far too often, continues) to search for beauty in all the wrong places, the ostensible discovery and display of “beauty” in such a context serves only to highlight my own hypocrisy.  We truly do live in the bad but long for the good.

I could not ask for more beautiful things
Could not dream of truer eyes
Could not want to touch a softer hand
But I also realize

That I am not the man to hold you
Every second more I stay
I become the thief of all the things
This is not the time to give away

You beautiful girl
You beautiful girl

You said you think that I give up too soon
On the nice girls that I find
So I stayed here, and we waited
For love to ripen like the wine

Did I stay because I’m lonely
Did I stay because I care
All I know is I would rather take a bullet
Than hurt what I hold dear

You beautiful girl
Beautiful girl

And the hardest pain is leaving
It’d be so simple just to stay
But the truth it is the loving thing
So it’s best for me to walk away

Because I always break what’s fragile
Because I always break what’s fragile
I always break what’s fragile
I always break what’s fragile

Beautiful girl
Beautiful girl
Beautiful girl
Beautiful girl

– “Beautiful Girl”

By Andrew Osenga

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