The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

April 22, 2014

Everyone is beautiful, in their own way

ENID, Okla. — A beauty queen was crowned earlier this week, complete with a crown, a sash and a cake.

There are lots of beauty pageants, hundreds, in fact. There are international pageants like Miss Universe, national pageants like Miss America, clear down to local events like Miss Watermelon, Miss Klingon Empire (for Star Trek buffs) and Miss Drumsticks (the turkey kind, not the wooden sticks actually used to beat on drums kind).

There are pageants for the smallest of contestants, with the youngest age groups represented ranging from zero to 2 years old. I suppose those in the zero category would have to be judged by their ultrasound images.

There also are pageants for those much farther down life’s occasionally bumpy road. The Ms. Senior America pageant, for instance, is open to women 60 and older. In the Ms. Senior Florida event, a preliminary competition for Ms. Senior America, the oldest contestant was 86. You go, girl.

There are pageants for pregnant ladies, for ladies who used to be men (and vice versa), for ladies who have had lots of plastic surgery, for men who like to dress up as ladies, and for ladies who are behind bars (the prison kind, not the drink-serving kind).

All these pageants seem to interpret the concept of beauty differently. The latest beauty queen to be crowned, in fact, is a real dog.

Lest you begin thinking of me as an insensitive, misogynistic pig, let me point out that Lucey, who was crowned Monday in Des Moines, Iowa, really is a dog — a bulldog, in fact.

Lucey was chosen from among 49 other dogs as the winner of the annual “Beautiful Bulldog,” contest, begun 35 years ago at Drake University to find a real dog to represent the school, whose mascot is, you guessed it, the Bulldogs.

There are any number of animal beauty contests worldwide every year, some of which celebrate the beauty of goats, ducks, cats, cows, chickens, rabbits, llamas, even camels.

Today, “People” magazine will unveil its annual list of the world’s most beautiful people. I am beginning to get worried. You’d think they would have contacted me by now. I am afraid I have been left out. Again.

Much has been written and said in recent years about self-image and self-esteem. For many people, their self-worth is wrapped up in how they look.

It seems we are never satisfied. We always manage to find our own flaws. We always see ourselves as “too” something — short, tall, fat, thin, white, brown. Our nose is too big, our eyes too small, our hair too thin or too curly, our ears too droopy.

Magazine covers, television and the movies tell us what we should strive to look like; they dictate what beautiful is.

Doctors have discovered a condition that causes people to become so obsessed with physical perfection they can no longer function normally in society — body dysmorphic disorder.

People we consider beautiful are actually seen as being somehow better in every way. Studies show beautiful people are seen to be smarter, healthier, friendlier and more competent than the non-beautiful.

A Stanford law professor, Deborah Rhodes, wrote a book in 2010 about the phenomenon, titled “The Beauty Bias.”

Many school children are bullied because of their looks. “Frog face” was among the kinder terms I used to hear as a child.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not beautiful, and if they do, don’t listen. So you’re not perfect? Who is? Physical perfection is not a natural occurrence, it is, in fact, an anomaly.

Don’t look like Brad Pitt or Hallie Berry? So? They don’t look like you, either, and more’s the pity. You are an amalgam of your parents, with a few other strips of bark off your family tree thrown in.

Someone judged to be physically attractive is physically attractive, nothing more. That doesn’t make them better, or worse, than anyone else.

The old joke goes, “Beauty may be skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.” I reject that. I say beauty is skin deep, but good goes clean to the soul.

Besides, the whole world doesn’t have to think you are beautiful, only one person does — you. And if you do, then at some point in your life, someone else surely will.

My bride has seen me at my worst — unshaven, hair (what there is left of it) all mussed, early morning drool on the chin, with dark circles under the eyes and teeth not brushed — and she has never once run screaming from the room. At least not yet.

I figure that means that, at some level, she finds me beautiful.

Either that, or her eyesight is a lot worse than I thought.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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