A thought on beauty

The word beauty is overloaded: it’s used to describe both “outer beauty” and “inner beauty.”

Inner beauty is pretty much an unobjectionable idea. Of course we all want to be good people! But why does inner beauty have to have any relationship to outer beauty? C.f. quotes about “true beauty comes from within.” Even if outer beauty does reflect inner beauty, I don’t understand why the relationship is drawn at all, other than the fact that the two ideas happen to share a common word!

This is also why I find messages like “strong is beautiful,” “skinny is beautiful,” etc. so problematic. Although well-meaning (whatever that counts for!), in an attempt at inclusivity, they reinforce the idea that outer beauty—rather than inner beauty—is something that should be universally sought.


  1. I would love to see movies star people who are less beautiful (on the outside).

    For me this is an issue in writing. There's a difference between quality of writing and quality of ideas, and for me English class didn't make this distinction clear. (See my post: http://holdenlee.github.io/The%20beauty%20of%20ideas%20vs%20the%20beauty%20of%20writing.html)

  2. […] articulate what annoyed me about arguments along the lines of “everyone is smart/talented/skilled/beautiful in their own way,” but I eventually recognized that the thing that bothered me about those kinds […]


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