Sunday, June 30, 2013

Beauty is on the outside

A couple of days ago, I came across a Russian commercial that awakened my interest straightaway. Basically, the story goes as follows: a handsome young man from a lower class falls promptly in love with this goddess at his workplace. He goggles her from afar -- and she does not look at him once, not even when he nonchalantly tries to approach her. As if he was just air, she remains indifferent and continues with her errands. Then, the commercial moves to that man taking a shopping spree. He cleans up real nice, casual suit and all, finds a suave ride -- a black BMW X5 I reckon -- and runs into her in the streets 'by chance' again. This time, the gorgeous woman gives him the time of day: she climbs into his slick BMW and he invites her to some fine dining in some fancy restaurant. They have a blast; laughing and flirting. She is charmed, throws in the towel and decisively spends the night with him. The next day, she cannot wipe that grin off her face and when she suddenly faces him at the office once more, she simply cannot believe her eyes: he is the man she rejected the day before, he is the man she was smitten with the night before. 

Now when I got to read the comments on this particular advertisement, my first observation is of course the non-surprise of the massive wave of opinionated and negative remarks:  "That is the reality, boys!" "Money can buy you love", "A pity that there are still so many women like that", "This speaks for itself! Women only look at the wallet", "That bitch deserves to be duped", "This is a lesson for all the women who are superficial and conceited", "I doubt that there are people who look at inner beauty alone!" Evidently, these statements promptly got me into thinking.

We live in a society these days in which inner beauty is acclaimed: men and women are encouraged by thousands of inspirational messages on a daily basis, our monthly magazines perpetually coerces us to embrace ourselves and we regularly receive a confidence boost from our own surrounding as well: the family, the friends, the person who shares our life and the occasional friendly person who pays us a pleasant compliment. We hope for a person to love us for who we are. Like Eddie "Prince Akeem" Murphy beckons in Coming to America (1988): "When I marry, I want the woman to marry me for who I am, not because of what I am." In that light, it means that if we were stripped down to our inner assets, the coveted one would love us still -- just like Lisa McDowell fell in love with Akeem when she thought he was a simple goat herder.  In point of fact, we are taught that attractiveness depends on personality and intelligence; on values and spirit; on ethos and a smile. And if we master a good character -- everything else is secondary: looks, weight, background, the past and naturally, how much money we have in the bank account.

Nevertheless, as it is demonstrated in that Russian commercial, reality appears to be a different story entirely. It is a walking contradiction to what we are instructed; it is a rebuttal of what we ourselves desire. Men (and maybe women even more so?) will examine the looks, the weight, the car, the social circumstances and of course, the wallet before showing even the slightest interest in getting to know someone better. One could ask him/herself, does it truly all come down to the uniform? A jumpsuit versus a suit? In essence, the man she rejected and the man who was to her liking are one: same face, same body, same personality, the exact same person. Or... is that really the case?

Do not misunderstand me, I am not one to profess that wallet and body hold more prestige than soul. I highly concur with the saying that looks may attract someone at first, but it is personality that will keep two people together. Without an ounce of doubt, inner beauty wins over the outer one, every time, in all cases, in each relationship. However, and I might be butchered for saying this, I strongly disagree with two matters. For one, let us be honest, looks matter -- especially at first sight at the very least. And I do not regard this as being narrow-minded at all; but it is irrefutable that our conception of beauty relies on eyes at the beginning. We walk into a cafe, a bar, a club; what we look out for is looks. We develop celebrity crushes just by scanning films, music videos and pictures; we do the same when we stroll around town. True to form, it might be shabby to bank on physical assets alone, but we must insist that who or what we consider beautiful is not a pivotal affair. Physical appearance does matter because aesthetics are appealing -- as straightforward as that.
Furthermore, and more importantly, the truth about looks is more than point-blank, physical features; it is also how one presents him/herself. Taking the proper time to groom oneself, giving importance to diet and exercise, defining one's own (fashion) style is definitely a reflection of the inner persona. Fact is, in any given situation, I have noticed that the most attractive person is not necessarily the 'classic, pretty' face by model standards as we would assume; but the most striking will be the one who is confident about what s/he looks like -- no matter what our idea of beauty is. In addition, I always have the impression that a person grows more lovely the more I get to know them -- because who they are is written on their face and body. So the physique is essential: it is not the full package, that is established, but reality is we do come in a package and it is okay to like it, to work on it, to nourish it.

On a second note, the claim that money does not make any kind of difference at all is pure fiction. Because the thing about money -- and people with such comments as the ones I mentioned above do not automatically take this aspect into consideration -- is that (good) money is tied to education, ambition, perseverance, dedication or hard work. In the commercial, when one looks closely, as soon as the young man exchanged the jumpsuit for a suit -- he radiated more assertiveness. Then, to answer my question earlier, he might have the same face, the same body, the same personality but it is not the same person: he gained another quality i.e. confidence. There is room for improvement -- an economic one for starters, and the rest follows. Times have changed, today's culture is different. Compared to perhaps just fifty years ago, we must certainly not descend from a wealthy family to become prosperous. We make our own fortune. There are countless examples of success stories -- and none of them happened without hard work, or still thrive  because of hard work. In actual fact, society today allows any man to dream bigger. Thus, that aspiration is not an impossible task. The educational system is not simply a privilege for the rich, but for the one who is eager to study in order to 'turn out well'. Next, the best positions with 'better' salaries are accessible if one puts in the blood, sweat and tears. We can climb the economic ladder if we give ourselves the chance to do so. It could be that some might have it 'easier' than others, still, any one of us can ignite his potential.
Yes, as a predictable consequence, a wealthier man will have -- or at least, can afford -- a better ride, a better attire, will taste better wine and will attract, effectively, more women. Simultaneously, though, it is again crucial to note that in the process, that man will obtain a greater level of self-confidence due to his self-made status. As a counterpart, I am convinced that women who want affluent men is not only because they crave luxury and that is the only thing they count on when a man seduces them; but it is because these men ooze boldness and personal drive -- which, I am assured of, are fantastic character traits we must praise. Sure, being treated like a queen comes with the territory; yet women who look for that advantage in men are not incontrovertibly gold diggers. And it is not a shame for women, successful themselves, to demand bigger things, fancy things, and aspire to live the pseudo good life. What is so wrong with being drawn to men who can provide (enough/more) security? This avowal is in no way to degrade people from a lower class, but I often feel that devaluing the power of money is not the right thing to do either. We always claim that men who have money do not need to put extra 'effort' into seducing women because they have the money -- but that is complete and utter nonsense. It is like saying that these are people without personality -- which is as wrong as affirming that those with less money are the sole ones with good character. Once more, money is closely linked to excellent facets such as having motivation and endurance. It is more than men being able to supply the 'right' things; earning (enough) money is a mirror of someone's willpower. In the end, the myth of men with money -- or women only hoping for a man with money -- is more than what lies on the surface.

In conclusion, whether we admit it or not, we will agree that beauty, inner and outer, as well as size of the wallet are key factors in the game of seduction and love. To which extent these things matter to someone is, then, a question of narrow-mindedness (or openness). Who we are triumphs -- it always has and always will --; whether  it applies to the (wo)men we seek or ourselves we aim to please. All we can do is play with the cards God has given us; and try to better ourselves constantly: our physical appearance reflects our inner beauty; and our inner beauty reflects on our physique (Just smile and see what happens in terms of testing your appeal!). Important to note is that inner and outer beauty are never contradictions - they collaborate. At the end of the day, we are a package -- a full package -- that we must (learn to) accept, love and/or work on. Then, when we get to love, well, we do love the full package as well, don't we?