Beauty: Skin and Soul Deep
Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder.
Beauty’s only skin deep.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Yeah, you heard me. Utter BS. My beauty isn’t just skin deep, nor will I ever discount all this outside in favor of what lies between my ears. My exterior matters, and my beauty does not depend on the eye of those who behold me.
I am a vast person, inside and out. My insides, or my emotional and intellectual aspects, are stuffed to capacity with such gems as compassion, critical thinking skills, and creativity. I’m a treasure trove, and I have endless fun exploring my inner workings and learning more about who I am, have been, and intend to become.
Likewise, my exterior is a study in curves, sibilance, and musk. My inner world is a luscious landscape, but only my exterior truly interacts with all five senses. Through a nose that looks a lot like my grandmother’s, I sniff the mint of my cruelty-free shampoo. Ears sporting five piercings snag the sigh of my thighs as they rub-a-dub-dub together. My body is my interface with the world, the way I collect its data and perform my understanding of it.
More, though, I am not just my outside... or my inside. I am my interior, bright and sparkling, just as much as I’m my exterior, round and pale. The being I call “me” is a synthesis of inside and out: gentleness and rounded belly, forgetfulness and crow’s feet. My fatness helps shape me into the loving, passionate activist who pursues human rights. My debilitating asthma when I was a little girl oriented me toward books and higher education. My insides and outsides work together, constantly chugging out a new version of me. I can’t claim my insides are more important when my outsides shaped them just as much as the reverse.
And besides, I have no desire to dismiss this exterior. I like it. I cherish my fatness, my height, my size eight ring finger, the arch of my eyebrow that reminds me of my father’s. I love how my belly curves into a smile, my legs form a circle that just perfectly fits my oldest cat, my eye color reminds me how to find beauty in the common.
My skin color is white (it’s actually beige, since true white skin doesn’t exist, but that’s another story). That’s a source of privilege and responsibility, both of which have shaped my experience of the world and my relationship with myself and others. Likewise, I navigate my communities through a body deemed too large and therefore too immodest, too monstrous, too un-feminine. My devalued body type has affected every one of interpersonal interactions. This is significant since, if social psychologists are to be believed, our sense of self arises from our social engagements.
In other words, I am how I appear and how others treat me. Likewise, how I appear depends on my presentation of self. Trying to de-link this relationship between interior and exterior is not only myopic but just plain silly.
Beauty is not what’s on the inside, but I thank folks for trying to help people like me, those who live in partially devalued body types, to buy stock in Beauty, Inc. (Assuming we want to do, anyway.) But I have no interest in chopping myself down to my interior in order to stake territory in Beautyland. Rather than delete the parts of us that don’t fit into these ideals, I’d like to see us broaden the definition of “beauty” to encompass us… all of us.
I mean, why would I ever choose to exclude my outside from the complete picture that is my beauty?