Monday, November 3, 2014

Myth: Beauty has a best before date

I love the book “The Great Gatsby,” so when the movie came out last year, I was totally stoked to go see it.  Needless to say, I loved the movie, but I especially loved the eerily enchanting song from the soundtrack called “Young and Beautiful” by Lana del Rey.  I listened to it all the time, that is until I actually started listening to the words and realized the following:

(While singing along to the song) Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful?

(Thinking to myself) Wait a minute.  Obviously everyone reaches a point when they're no longer “young”, but does that also mean they're no longer beautiful?  I don't like that.  I disagree.

And that was about the extent of that conversation I had with myself and I slowly stopped listening to that song.

Fast forward to a few months later.  I read the book “1984,” and, strangely, my favorite part of the book had nothing to do with how it has totally predicted the future and that Big Facebook is watching our every move.  Nope.  Instead, what stuck out to me was the following passage, which has become one of my most favorite book quotes:

Tirelessly the woman marched to and fro, corking and uncorking herself, singing and falling silent, and pegging out more diapers, and more and yet more.  He wondered whether she took in washing for a living or was merely the slave of twenty or thirty grandchildren.  Julia had come across to his side; together they gazed down with a sort of fascination at the sturdy figure below.  As he looked at the woman in her characteristic attitude, her thick arms reaching up for the line, her powerful mare-like buttocks protruded, it struck him for the first time that she was beautiful.  It had never before occurred to him that the body of a woman of fifty, blown up to monstrous dimensions by childbearing, then hardened, roughened by work till it was coarse in the grain like an over-ripe turnip, could be beautiful.  But it was so, and after all, he thought, why not?  The solid, contour less body, like a block of granite, and the rasping red skin, bore the same relation to the body of a girl as the rose-hip to the rose.  Why should the fruit be held inferior to the flower?

“She's beautiful,” he murmured.

“She's a metre across the hips, easily,” said Julia.

“That is her style of beauty,” said Winston.

And just like that, the feeling I had while listening to that silly song was put into words.  There is no end to beauty (which would be a great line to add to the song “If You Could Hie to Kolob,” by the way).  Simply, as Winston said, the style of the beauty changes.  And might I add, I believe the change is for the better.  If nature requires a flower to slowly trade in its petals for wisdom, experience, and sacrifice, the sturdy and steadfast rose-hip can easily be considered equal, if not greater, to the fleeting beauty of the rose.


  1. I remember seeing an older female speak at a church conference and thinking to myself that she was certainly the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. It's almost as if in that moment, I could see a clear glimpse of her wisdom and experience. The way the years of her life had written themselves on her body were so incredibly beautiful to me. She was queen-like to me and it had very little, if anything, to do with worldly views of beauty. Thanks for this beautiful post you have shared about the timeless nature of beauty. It's comforting to embrace aging this way.

  2. This is just a great post -- we all need reminding that aging does not mean losing, it can mean gaining. Thank you for your insight