Beauty & The Beast

Optical Illusion or ...?
Optical Illusion or …?

I recently finished The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and was so enraptured by it, that I also caught the movie starring Ben Barnes (Why was.HE cast??). I am still under the spell of the book – enchanted for life I think. For the uninitiated (and please change this status immediately!), the story deals with this young, beautiful man who wishes eternal youth while his magnificent painting (or rather, his soul) takes the brunt of time and age. The movie was a downer as it dealt more with the sexual debauchery that Gray descends into rather than the dwellings of mind that are so typical of Wilde.

Well… It raised a question. A very interesting question and I am hoping for varied answers.

How important is looking good and young to you personally? How much of your confidence or self-esteem is derived from your external attributes? I know, we wax poetic about our inner selves and what we feel, think and do blah blah is what counts. And I agree – in the end that is what deserves the spotlight. But isn’t there some tiny corner of our mind that really LIKES being beautiful and perfect on the outside? I know that corner very well!

I will be candid and say that I LIKE being relatively good-looking and feel lucky to have inherited the slim genes. All said and done, that bit of charm and flirting has really made life easy. Recent health issues played havoc with my face and I panicked! For the first time, I was self-conscious and lost my confidence, even though the world didn’t notice the imperfections. But I noticed! I saw every eruption and scar. And it disturbed me. Thankfully, I didn’t end up with a bunch of useless cosmetics (yay for common sense!) but I did start observing my face a lot closely and realized that this youth is temporary. Eventually, I may reach out for some magical youth serum and try to contain time. Maybe I won’t have the same paranoia about weight gain as fitness is what matters to me – diet and exercise. Again, maybe! I don’t know for sure.

Some of you may think of “how shallow!” Even I cursed myself for being affected by something external and so temporary. But it made a dent on me. I admit it. Hey! Even Beauty fell for the Prince – she was just friendly with the Beast he used to be. And then, I look around and I see inspiration. People who haven’t let their weight, their face or their bodies affect them! But I also understood that they had their moments of doubts and it was a long fight to accept themselves. Maybe one day I too will shake this self-doubt off successfully. But again, I don’t see anything WRONG in taking care of myself!

Although, I definitely won’t present my soul on the devil’s altar in exchange for eternal youth. 


So tell me, world. How important is/was your youthful perfection to you? Given a choice, would you – like Dorian – opt for eternal youth and beauty? Turn back the time for every wrinkle without affecting your experiences or is that wrinkle a souvenir of a life well lived?

My fastest ever post (eight minutes) was brought to you by Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday where the prompt is very/vary.

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45 thoughts on “Beauty & The Beast

  1. I thought that your post was very thought provoking. I’m a fan of the book as well, and to a similar extend, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which also deals with the ideals of perfection. I think that there is beauty in all facets of life. The big tradeoff for me is losing the angst and confusion of youth with the peace and serenity that age brings.

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  2. I just published a post today that includes the line “I do not begrudge your smooth, unlined skin, nor do I begrudge my fine and not-so-fine lines.” So that tells you that I would not opt for eternal youth and beauty. I opt for a natural look. I am not free from vanity, of course, and I don’t believe many of us truly are. My goal is to look healthy and athletic well past the age where I am supposed to look athletic. But there is no plastic surgery and no “deal with the devil” in my future.

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    • I will definitely checking it out. Natural is the way to go… and to do so gracefully is really in our hands and a little bit of vanity does one good! It just means you care about yourself right?!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. When started reading your post, I though you ll give another lecture about how external beauty has no importance in your eyes but luckily you didn’t.

    You made perfect sense, our external appearance has tight grip on how we feel. A good clothing day, a good hair day boosts our confidence several times. But at same time, we are held in a dilemma that this beauty is so momentry. My fragile looking grandmother used to be very very very beautiful in her youth but who can tell? after 30 years, we will be nothing but ill looking oldies.

    State of confusion comes. whether focus on external beauty which will last few days or beauty of mind which will last forever or focus on both? Sharing ur article

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    • Thank you Raman for such a sensitive and encouraging comment. This dilemma is confusing! There are days when your opinions just swing left, right and center. No clear permanent thoughts. Thank you for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very thoughtful post indeed. A person can say that external looks don’t matter at all, but I think in today’s world that would be a lie.

    That said I wouldn’t choose eternal beauty. If I could i would have just picked up my razor and shaved at least once in a week 😛 At this point, I care the least about eternal beautification process 😀

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  5. Thought provoking.
    The dilemma is more for people who are defined by their beauty when they are young. For example models and actors.
    There are some who have limitations by birth as far as external beauty is concerned. And they still live a confident life. Develop a great personality, never worrying about the looks.
    Great inspiration such people can be 🙂

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    • Thank you Rahul! Excellent points you have raised here by taking instances of models and actors. Growing beyond your looks and focusing on personality is a great learning.

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  6. An excellent post Prajakta. It is interesting, for years I have always been told I look a lot younger than I was, and people would call me “young lad” even well into me 30’s.

    Looking back, I have to admit the words were nice to hear, but it always was external. Am now an aging baby boomer, look more my age. Have that bit of vanity, would still love to hear “young lad”, but those days are over.

    But I am thankful for where I am right in the here and now. I am very blessed! 🙂

    ~Carl~

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  7. I love your honestly.. and particularly in the world of online poetry that is certainly inhabited by the more conservative aspect of the introverted style of life.. which is naturally greater spent in introspective mind than body.. where rarely one travels to a place where one can even see the bright eye souls of what precedes words of free verse stream of creative conscious beauty or a science of words with intent of beauty…

    I can honestly say.. the times in my life where I feel.. and yes.. look at myself as the oldest are in college in a life of straight A perfectionist way of books.. instead of flesh and blood life as a ‘normal’ human being.. for me as a natural extrovert…

    And then again.. decades later as a government administrator.. manager.. supervisor.. fine pencil pusher.. behind a computer.. with no mistakes allowed for survival…

    And yes.. I am and can be somewhat bluntly honest too.. and hold nothing back of the beauty that can be a life spent in positive emotion in mind and body balance that creates the greatest human potential of what humans are overall evolved to be..

    AS socially cooperative feeling flesh and blood animals who innately instinctually and intuitively communicate with non-verbal flesh and blood language.. particularly innate reproductive attractions that are built into our genes for the stronger protector and the more voluptuous hips and fresh faced skin…

    However again.. emotional animals are we.. and to repress or lose those pro-social emotions is to become the beast.. no matter gender or age.. rather than the beauty of what can be the socially cooperating natural human being that lives to connect with others rather than ‘stay inside’…

    Anyway… i respect the introverts of life.. as caution is certainly an attribute required for survival and my wife who never ages is certainly an introvert.. where i just make comments in my latest posts in regard to this overall topic.. as her beauty is natural.. with never make up.. or work-outs at the gym.. for that Pacific Islander genetic gift…

    And I have to literally work-out like an olympic athlete to maintain my youthful moves in appearance that still attract young women to dance.. as I happily document these blessings of my life.. in truly what it means to be human.. to connect to each other in sensual flesh and blood life.. truly no matter what age or gender…

    YES.. To be alive with joy of life.. and that light shines in the eyes of joy and love that I know no greater beauty.. as ‘ugliest’ of all can come in dead eyes of the most perfectly symmetrical and aesthetic pleasing rest of the body to accompany that…

    And I know and feel this fully.. as I live life with illness of body and spirit in the past.. WITH those dead eyes for five years as a beast.. totally and permanently assessed.. both legally and medically as disabled.. shut-in like the ‘hunch back of Notre Dame’ and accompanied still by the beauty that is my wife.. who truly never ages ..still at age 45.. like the new movie.. the ‘Age of Adaline’.. where my wife never hesitates to report her age.. to folks who ask her.. if she’s out of college yet..:)

    So yes.. thanks for posting this very interesting.. open minded.. honest.. and somewhat brave online poetic question.. with as many answers of timely synchronistic flavored interest..

    from ‘noWORDY’ me.. of course.. smiles..:)

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    • This was a deep response and brought different perspectives! Of course we work on what we have got and some people like your wife are naturally blessed 🙂 But then again, our emotional sides is what ultimately guides us… and which gives the courage to open up honestly to our imperfections and embrace them with delight! Thank you for commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, what a nice seague from novel to real world. A very good question. I’m sure it goes very deep with all of us no matter whether we’re hung up on youthful beauty or not….as for me, I’m determined to stay proud of my “battle scars”…..no plastic surgery in my future…..

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  9. These were the questions that I am thinking of since I read this thought-provoking book. And I genuinely have no idea that what will I do if given a choice. There have been phases when I have hated my looks, proud of them and didn’t care for them. But as the book says, even though the protagonist manages to have ever-green looks he is not able to save his soul from wrinkles which come with maturity, at the price of innocence. And a spoiled soul with a pure face can really be evil.
    So I would like to think that I may refuse the offer of staying young forever, but will keep cursing the old age as it starts showing its magic 😀

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  10. Such a thought provoking post! You make really good points. It’s a shame that society puts so much emphasis and value on youth. It’s my opinion that our experiences and age are often what make us interesting. I also think aging naturally is best.

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  11. There’s hardly a day that goes by that I don’t feel self-conscious, and yet I’m one of the least vain people I know. Honestly, I don’t care what people think of me, it’s how I feel about myself… A conundrum to say the least. Would I give up my soul for the way I look? No way. Because my self-confidence in the way I act is far more important to me than having confidence in the way I look.
    Great post! 🙂

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  12. you aren’t shallow Prajkta ! When I had the few marks on my skin for the first time I panicked but then again I think its natural to be worried about your skin and taking good care of it is important.Beauty for us may be good for a first sight but then what touches the heart most is personality for very one because every one of us is seeking love and warmth and if he get from somebody not totally upgraded with external attributes we are way happier than the beauty ones 🙂
    Great post you wrote ❤

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  13. I think that Dorian Gray wanted immortality as well. We internalize our cultures attitudes toward age and beauty and then that affects how we look at ourselves. It is a battle to combat the negative attitudes. There are definite changes and losses as we get older. We can not rely on our physical appearance and it is an adjustment.

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  14. every now and then we come across a person who despite a visible flaw in their external beauty are so full with confidence,a presence of such person around does tend to affect your opinion.

    when we see respect and appreciation from the society given to such people, it is far more superior than a mere external beauty can induce.
    I think inner faith helps in the long run. A beautiful post… thank you for bringing it to light.

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  15. This is one of my most favorite book and loved your perspective…
    The changing facet of life and living, can we hold back? the freshness and the beauty forever. Nothing is permanent, the challenge is accepting the reality. There is this illusion in life to prolong our state of desired state of life…
    😀

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