As a professional esthetician, I often hear people connecting esthetic services with “mere” vanity, either directly, or as an underlying assumption. Have you ever thought about facial services as vanity services; something that has an effect on the surface of our skin, but doesn’t really have a deeper effect on our overall well-being? I know I have, in the past. After giving this topic a lot of thought, and considering what I know about skin care, I think underneath what might seem like a superficial desire is really a deeper desire for better health. Make a list of the qualities of healthy skin, young skin, and attractive skin. You’ll probably find that the 3 lists are basically the same. The qualities about youthful skin that make it attractive demonstrate healthy vitality (smooth, firm, unblemished, etc.)
Even if that were not the case, there are folks making the case for beauty as something to be valued for itself, apart from other apparent virtues. Piero Ferucci wrote “Beauty and the Soul: The Extraordinary Power of Everyday Beauty to Heal Your Life.” I haven’t read it, but I’d like to. A friend of mine recently wrote a blogpost that I loved, for many reasons. His post is written from the perspective of the creative arts, and craftsmanship, including this quote: “Reacting to beauty and wanting to create it does not make you strange or malformed. Everyone craves beauty. A lot of people want to create beauty. Few are willing to do the required work. People will pay you to create beauty for them. Creating beauty does not make you important. Having a good character is important. You are not the first and you should not be the last to create beauty.” For the full post, read here.
Another friend of mine was telling me a story recently about an attractive man from her past. She said, “I’m sure he’s much older now. In my mind I still think of him as this Adonis.” My reply? “He’s still an Adonis; he’s just an older one.” She smiled, acknowledging those cultural blinders that we allow to constrict our vision from time to time. At our best, we help each other to feel beautiful, and to see beauty everywhere; that authentic quality that springs from vitality, (com)passion, and joy in connecting with the world around us.