How Do You Define Beauty?

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By Cathy Rae Smith
Co-Founder of Culture Magazine

When making a presentation last month on “The Importance of Beauty, Nature, & High Art,” the question arose, “How do you define beauty?” In the context of that presentation, the question posed related to the distinction of natural splendor, decorative art, and high art. Actually, though, it boils down to an individual assessment spanning any topic of consideration.

When down in L.A. last month, my friend and I met another friend for lunch in Bel Air. She owns and operates a personal training company and had just come from a couple sessions with clients at their homes. She is in her mid-fifties and in amazing shape. Her eyes twinkle with mirth as she smiles. My friend, a few years older, looks like a petite teenager. The three of us discussed our love of active adventures as we travel various places in the world. Life is to be lived to the fullest!

After lunch, my friend and I went to shop a few chic boutiques before she dropped me off at LAX for my flight back to Portland. There were some amazing sights… yes, the fashions were fabulous… but I was really struck by the parade of  “Stepford Wives” in these shops. Not everyone, but several, appeared to have frequented the same plastic surgeon. Each had the same cheekbones, the same nose, the same plumped lips, the same style hair, (though the color did vary), and the same frozen expression, (more specifically, lack thereof).

I pondered the topic of beauty. We each have our own standards of it, to be sure. However, it just seemed so odd to have spent time with animated, vivacious women that were full of expression, (and the accompanying evidence on their face), versus the women with little or no expression lines on their faces, and, in fact, no expression whatsoever. How lovely to see the warmth and light emanating from someone with a genuine smile displayed broadly for all to see.