The Essence of Beauty

By Malak Sabbah, Engage Minnesota

I’m sure you all have heard the simple, yet profound saying of Confucius: “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” This galvanizing quote has for centuries transformed the spiritual lives of people, creating an aura of creativity and imagination in the way we perceive our world today. It is a shift in our understanding of life, encouraging us to seek beauty through our own distinct lens.

Society  has long programmed our perceptions and outlooks, whether it’s about our physical features, inner beauty, or our world and everything in between, to the point where conforming is the only gateway to happiness, so they say. But this quote or better yet, state of mind, can really uplift the spirit, guiding us towards finding beauty in nearly everything.

This quote teaches us that a deformed rose stem is beautiful if only we learn how to shift our focus on the enriching red color of the pedals above. It teaches us that when you peel open a grapefruit, don’t quickly rush to devour it; rather notice the fine tuning of how it’s split perfectly, and notice the natural order of its structure and vibrant color. Or it teaches us to look at the flock of birds flying harmoniously together in groups, where each bird dares to fly out of the line, to learn about teamwork and standing together amongst the rigid winds.

It teaches us to embrace beauty in the blackest of skin; to appreciate the boldness and purity of the color that evenly paints the body. It teaches us a lesson about our scars that lie in the deep coffers of our hearts, to transform them into empowerment of the soul and to let go. Because to let go is to move on. And to move on is to seek new inspirations and gifts  life has to offer. This is the beauty that Confucius has taught us: to seek out the fine details in every little thing that our minds typically overlook. And yes, I said “minds” because it is in the mind where our learned behaviors and thoughts are processed and in turn become our perception.

When it comes to physical beauty, social media seems to be the most influential place of where ideas of beauty are created and  generated for men and women. With the rise of the popular social media application Instagram, the youths perceptions of beauty have shifted. Not only has it shifted our perceptions, but has also revolutionized the way humans see physical beauty today. According to Statista, Instagram has 300 million users as of 2014. This application has attracted people of all ages, males and females alike, who live in different parts of the world. Different types of beauties from Kurdish to Desi, Russian and African are actively and confidently posting “selfies” to show the world their God-given attributes. But according to All Time Favorites, the users that are the “most influental” are celebrity accounts with posts that portray the glitz and glam of hollywood; not to mention makeup artists.

With the rise of these two types of accounts, many men and women are seeing an increase in standards of manufactured beauty.  It seems that if one really wants to look attractive, they must use the same techniques makeup artists or celebrities use to make their image more presentable.

For example, you can find users who want to look like the popular Kylie Jenner or Kim Kardashian by imitating the exact makeup and hair trends these celebrities partake in. Or young men who follow male actors and models like the popular Mariano Di Vaio, trying to emulate the lifestyle this celebrity lives by having 1950s style haircuts and  fancy tailored suits. On one hand, our world is coming together through embracing and admiring  the different attributes that may be exotic to us, but on the other hand, that means the standards of beauty is becoming unrealistically high, making people feel obliged to look and live a certain way to feel “sexy” and accepted by society through layered makeup and luxurious outfits. Alongside celebrity accounts, the rise of makeup artists making a hit on Instagram like Pat Mcgrath, who works with Dolce Gabbana, Cover Girl, and Max factor brands or even regular artists like Evon Wahab on Instagram have also been popular on the list. The tutorials and makeup tricks are  leaving females quick to get excited to purchase the latest contour makeup kit that helps shape and slim the face.

But the notion that makeup makes you or breaks you has put women under pressure. According to the Daily Mail, six out of ten women wouldn’t consider going to work without makeup, and almost half of all women say they would prefer wearing cosmetics on their face than going bare-faced. Not only is this dire need to apply makeup making women feel less beautiful in their own skin, but it’s creating an aura of deceptive beauty, leaving them to forget their true natural beauty.

Although it may seem that our world is more interconnected, celebrity and makeup artist accounts are  powerful enough to subconsciously distort the profound mindset that Confucius once philosophized. Our generation is starting to think that by looking skinnier in the face with inflated lips or higher cheek bones, you will be loved and accepted by every passerby on this earth.

They are forgetting their natural essence by believing that only through makeup will one be adored. Don’t get me wrong, looking somewhat presentable is how people have conducted themselves for centuries, but when being presentable means manufacturing your own beauty,  it could push one away from truly loving themselves. Pushing one away from admiring their own attributes and skills rather than trying to emulate the latest trend a celebrity posts. But it’s deeper than that, it is slowly training the mind to not appreciate and devalue the individuals own attributes and qualities. If everyone conforms to the ideals of these famous celebrities, the creativity and inspiration each unique individual has to offer will wither away and will be buried deep in your psych, never to be found — and you will forget about who you really are.

We  are living real beauty when we can enjoy taking care of our appearance without wondering who else is going to find us beautiful, who we can impress, or who we are trying to compete with. You are your own admirer, you enjoy your own smiling face, you enjoy the color of your skin whatever shade it is, you enjoy the texture of your hair, or even the lining of your lips, and you need not look further than your own mirror to know you are special and lovable. You should understand that the fine lines around your eyes speak truth and wisdom, truth of your hours laughing with friends and loved ones or even the stress your tribulations have taught you . You are living beauty when you look at your scars from within and you transform them to wisdom and lessons. Your internal beauty, which is the love and appreciation you have for yourself; the confidence and humility, will inevitably reflect in your smile that will shine its light by creating solace and compassionate energy when amongst others.  That is the essence of beauty that Confucius speaks about.

Malak Sabbah, is an aspiring Life Coach who lives in Maple Grove, Minnesota.

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