It is the nature of our society to strive for tangible evidence of achievement. Success in the classroom is measured by grades; athletic prowess is indicated by titles won or medals earned, and our material possessions are more often than not perceived as a reflection of financial wealth. It is no surprise that a society so full of judgment, albeit inadvertent or intended, looks to concretely define subjective parts of life, like beauty, and it needs to be put to rest.
It is a pointless, exhausting, and circuitous debate. Why? Because our culture is trying to answer an opinion based, open ended essay question with a “true or false” mindset. I am not anyone with significant influence or importance within my society, but I am a 21 year old young woman living in a culture where physical appearance is highly valued. I am not preaching an answer to this societal speed bump. Rather, I am expressing my opinion.
It is my opinion that a grade point average is not the sole indicator of one’s intelligence or intellectual capabilities. A Division I athlete is by no means automatically more athletic than a Division III athlete, nor do I think that a humble home or lack of material possessions reflect the quality of one’s work ethic or job. Along the same lines, it is my conviction that beauty is immeasurable solely by a particular body type. But it is also my understanding that not everyone follows the same pattern of thinking.
The great body debate is the most recent symptom of a much bigger illness: failure to see the grey area. If the world were black and white, couldn’t you argue that Steve Jobs was stupid, Oscar Pistorius lacks athleticism, and Joaquin Phoenix circa 2010 was unemployed and in financial distress? Sure, based on certain “societal values.” But, why, then, is Jobs considered a genius? How is Pistorius (despite recent circumstances which have no bearing here) a decorated Paralympic athlete? How is Phoenix a handsomely paid actor? Sure, these people are exceptions, but that only proves the fallibility of standards.
But my point is this: as a human being with free will, we have the capability to choose whether or not we buy into these criteria. Stop trying to convince others to agree with your standard of beauty or the perfect body.We generalize, we judge, we have opinions; it’s human nature. There will always be a variety of sentiments with some general consensus, but there will never be a unanimous verdict of defining beauty. I personally find that comforting.