The Word Undefined

March 23, 2011
By Zoe Kaufman BRONZE, West Hartford, Connecticut
Zoe Kaufman BRONZE, West Hartford, Connecticut
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Many words have different meanings to individual people. A common and descriptive word known to many is beauty. Most
people associate human beauty with women. The use of the word beauty dates back to the Greeks, before the time of Socrates. They found having the correct proportions attractive, which was key in their multiple forms of architecture. Beauty is known as the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else. The “things” that make beauty arise from someone is always different to the viewer. With so many different eyes, can beauty have only one definition?

Over hundreds of years the views of ideal beauty around the world have changed. Beauty of a woman in one country is completely different than in another. The “ideal” beautiful women has transformed tremendously. Americans first took the European idea that a more plump women meant they were beautiful and wealthy. One has to remember that hundreds of years ago there was no such thing as make up to cover up a persons blemish. Instead in the 1700s women wore wigs of huge curls to enhance their beauty. After a while, the fake hair fell through and natural beauty arose. Natural beauty did not last long because Helena Rubenstein created cosmetics. Now women, who could afford it, had to cover their face with makeup. In the 1900’s another typical beauty ideal changed; being large became unattractive. Thin models and people were what became “in”. Sizes of clothing even changed to conform to this new idea. In addition, Coco Chanel began the idea that having a tanned skin tone portrayed beauty. Now women are taking an even bigger step altering their bodies by getting plastic surgery. A feeling of sadness arises to think that women feel they need to permanently alter themselves to become attractive to others. Even with all these changes in media and public views of beauty, it will always remain different in the eyes of the beholder

During my high school years I have met a girl named Melanie. She is gorgeous, with long straight blond hair, blue eyes, and a slender frame. She acts very confident when around her friends. People always give her compliments on how beautiful she looks. One day I went over her house to hang out with her over the summer. She looked very depressed and upset, not her cheerful self. As we walked up to her room I saw how she was hunched over as though she had no strength to stand up straight. I sat down on her bed and she began sobbing. I took her into my arms and calmed her down, then asked the obvious question, “What’s wrong?” Melanie told me of how she was embarrassed to speak of her problem. I reassured her that she could trust me and I would never make fun of her. After a couple minutes she provided me with a long explanation of how she did not think she was beautiful as everyone else always told her. Melanie said she could never really accept the compliments she was given, contradicting it with the idea that she is a “fat ugly pig”.
My jaw fell to the floor in shock. How could my best friend, one of the prettiest girls I know think she is fat and ugly, I just did not understand. Then she told me news that switched my thoughts of shock to concern. Melanie explained how her sadness and low self-esteem has led her to starve herself. I felt helpless and scared that my friend was slowly killing herself. As I sat in the car a realization came to me; even when everybody around someone tells them of their beauty, the person may never be able to see the same.

As I think of the word beauty, the movie Beauty and the Beast comes to mind. The movie illustrated how the most beautiful woman in town falls in love with a beast for a man. One may think that the beast was atrocious, but others may see handsomeness running throughout him. No matter the circumstances each individual will always have their own view on what they perceive as beautiful. I hope one day my best friend can see herself as everyone else observes her. My grandmother never stopped “putting on her face” during my entire life. With these different alterations one can mask their features. One’s appearance can be completely different then the reality of who they truly are. The word beauty or beautiful has been used too loosely. Outside appearance has less power and significance than the inner beauty of a person.

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