“The real sin against life is to abuse and destroy beauty, even one’s own – even more one’s own, for that has been put in our care and we are responsible for its well-being.” Katherine Anne Porter, journalist and author
I’ve been trying to position myself towards the topic of beauty for a long time now. I have been brought up in a home that did not celebrate beauty. “Beauty is only skin-deep” was probably the most often used statement about beauty that I heard as a child. It was of course used in order to show that assigning importance to looks is superficial but I think that more often than not we were quite confused about the statement. Because if it was superficial and we generally should not care about it, why did we have to look good when we were visiting relatives?
Anyhow, ‘Beauty is only skin-deep’ was a saying that many liked to sing when we were growing up and, to be honest, I see it now as more damaging to children’s understanding and appreciation of beauty than helpful in building their characters. What I do not like about this saying is that it discredits beauty per se, it discredits the need for looking after it, it discredits the need for creating it and if said too often, it basically stops us from looking after the beauty that we are surrounded with and the beautiful people that we are.
Beauty requires effort. It takes work and purposeful, regular practice to create it. It also takes knowledge and dedication. I only truly understood this through my life experiences over the last few years: growing a child, making things for our house and garden, writing and photographing. What I have learnt is that beauty thrives with care and creativity and care and creativity entail effort. Creativity is effort, it’s seeing details, it’s being able to mould materials until they take the shape that we want them to take, it’s also about learning how beauty is made and about practice. It’s about spending time and often exerting ourselves to reach the outcome that we want to have, and finally it’s about tending to it regularly, taming it’s wildness. Beauty can be shallow but usually it is not. Usually beauty is work. It’s a lot of work nurtured with love and affection.
Shouldn’t we therefore teach our children that beauty should be respected rather than disparaged?
The more affection we have towards who we are, what is within us and what is around us, the more beautiful…