It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful: Beauty is as beauty does

Annie Lennox, Eurythmics, Drammenshallen, Norway, October 6th 1986My latest class assignment is to read the words of the song, “It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful” popularized by Annie Lennox in the 1990s. We are then to discuss if we agree or disagree with the statement:

“Only the beautiful and thin are valued and loved. The non-skinny or non-pretty woman does not fit in and will face discrimination, stereotypes, and fewer social relationships. The pressure to achieve the ‘ideal’ is so strong we do not question the implications behind teaching young women how to be perfect and loved.”

It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful

Keep young and beautiful. It’s your duty to be beautiful.
Keep young and beautiful, If you want to be loved.
Don’t fail to do your stuff With a little powder and a puff.
Keep young and beautiful, If you want to be loved.

It you’re wise, exercise all the fat off. Take if off over here, over there.
When you’re seen anywhere with your hat off, Wear a Marcelled wave in your hair.
Take care of all those charms, And you’ll always be in someone’s arms.
Keep young and beautiful, If you want to be loved.

—Al Dubin and Harry Warren, Keep Young and Beautiful [Recorded by Annie Lennox], on Dive [CD], New York: RCA, 1992.

As much as I would love to say that the song is totally wrong, I can’t. For some people (not me) skinny, perfectly made up, ultra enhanced and mostly unrealistic beauty IS the epitome of beauty. To those people, this song is an accurate portrayal of beauty and the challenges needed to meet it.

That being said, I tend to buck convention, and what is inside is far more important than the exterior. Whether the person is skinny, obese, or anywhere in between… has a unibrow or perfectly plucked and curved eyebrows… a beauty spot or a hairy mole… what the person does, how they live their life, how they treat the lowest of their fellow man is far more important — and beautiful to me.

I would much rather marry someone who is overweight and happy than one who is the picture of perfection and miserable trying to stay that way.

A male student agreed with me, but wondered how it is possible to have a healthy relationship without physical attraction. He knows a few awesome, overweight women who would likely make equally awesome wives. However, because he is not attracted to them, he would never marry them. A woman with a unibrow is not for him, and he would never be able to make love to such a woman. He understood and respected my views.

Thank you for your comments, Michael. I’m sure there are other guys who do find a woman with a unibrow extremely sexy. I suppose that it is fortunate that not everyone’s ideal of feminine beauty is the same. 🙂

I find that people who accept their bodies, warts and all, generally have much better self-esteem. It shows through, and that positive attitude attracts me as much (or even more) than physical characteristics. People who watch every morsel of food that passes their lips, religiously count the number of reps in their daily exercise routine, and follow every fashion trend usually do not have that level of self-confidence. It leaves them lacking in my opinion.

My parents have been married for nearly 50 years. My grandparents on both sides are/were married for over 50 years (my living grandparents are closing in on #75!). Their appearance has changed greatly over that time. Relying too much upon physical appearance as the basis of their relationship was not their key to meaningful, healthy relationships. It was mutual friendship, respect, and admiration for each other that made their marriages last.

Physical beauty does help people take notice. It’s like a car commercial that grabs your attention in the middle of your busy life. After the attention has been grabbed, though, it’s time to look beyond the marketing glitz and consider all of the benefits and disadvantages of a potential relationship. Most people wouldn’t buy a car that looks absolutely sensational, but only gets two miles to the gallon and wears through transmissions after only 5,000 miles. Likewise, a human relationship based solely on physical attraction often is doomed once the “honeymoon phase” is over and the couple realizes they have little in common aside from their waning lust for each other.

Many terrific people are ignored and passed over simply because their body image, fashion sense, or other external criteria falls short of the cultural norm maintained by the mass media and entertainment industries. It’s quite sad, really.

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