Reflections From On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Tonight is the last of the night shift, yay! Over the week, I've managed to finish the Bill Bryson book and this one by Zadie Smith. It was a very enjoyable read.

I wondered why it was called "On Beauty". I thought about "beauty" from several angles.

Most superficially, beauty as in appearance and size. It was interesting how Smith mentioned each woman's size, the women's own view of beauty, as well as making some comments to what society call beauty. I thought it was intriguing how the African/ black women all had different view on size and beauty according to, if you like, how white they are on the inside. That is, the more ethnically connected, the less that woman was inclined to value being skinny, having big breasts and round bottom, as beautiful. Kiki, the main female character was obese yet constantly being described as being beautiful, even by other women. The beauties in the paintings referred to in the book would be judged as obese by today's society. Yet these paintings are the lifetime works of men, yet more men devote a life time to study. They are valued by today's society, in the millions. How conflicting and incongruous. What is the standard of beauty would society have us believe?

There is the idea of "beauty" being innocence. In the story, Levi was taken by the plight of the Haitians and poverty in general. Despite being a middle classed suburbana teenager, he found himself fighting, even, in the end, potentially sacrificing his future, for a people whom, superficially, have nothing in common with. It was purely recognising that those in poverty were made of the same essence as himself. That was sufficient "glue" to stick him to them. He has no other redeeming quality, yet, I thought his naivety beautiful. How many of us can give up so much, for something so distant.

Next I come to the beauty of strength. If I had written this book and called it On Beauty, it would be because of Kiki. Obese. Black. Menopausal. How does a woman, whose belly hangs over the elastics of leggings, that spreads beyond the handles of a seat, be beautiful? By being kind, generous, genuine. She is the mother - to her children, her husband and her friends. In putting the needs of others in front of her own, she is the "looker - after-er". Perhaps it is this reason she forgave her husband's infidelities. Yet a genuine entitlement to being herself led her to both sense and express the betrayal and disappointment she felt. Yes, "entitlement to be yourself". I really liked that expression. One needs to be taught that we are all entitled to be ourselves. It is a God given right. Otherwise He would not have made us the way we are. Because we are allowed to be ourselves, we are allowed to be possessive of the love of our lives, and feel hurt and jealousy. It is something I have yet to learn myself. I live in the shadow of what others deem beautiful. It is the root of my problem. Maybe that is why I know, at least on the intellectual level, that I am not beautiful.

The natural question then, would be, how does one feel beautiful? How does one find the entitlement of being oneself? From the book, I would suggest "belonging" - the sense of belonging that one is not alone, one is validated by others in that group. Perhaps it only reflects my own lack of belonging that I find the book raises this issue. In many ways, I think the characters in the book are all seeking their belonging, their identity. Clearly family is one place where one can feel accepted. After all, blood is thicker than water, so the saying goes. This unspeakable bond sometimes only emerges when the storm of life blows through. But what interested me was Levi's sense of comraderie in suffering in the book. It is perhaps through the lense of youth that the beauty of humanity comes into sharper focus.

It leads onto a less prominent idea of beauty - the beauty of justice. I suppose I shouldn't say exactly what happened because it's a bit of climax of the book. How do you fix poverty? If a poor man steals to feed his family, regardless, it is scorned by society. Voting for Hilary or Obama, would that fix it? One finds that answer through history, I would have thought. Perhaps social justice is as elusive as beauty, alluring yet unattainable. However, I do not, for one minute, advocate complacency. Much like my theory on suffering, I think perhaps the enigma of it, the unattainability of it, drives us to constantly strive for justice, for beauty. For, perhaps, beauty knows no bounds.

Beauty Products Online

Beauty products online allow you fast and easy access to many top cosmetics retailers. You can buy all your health and beauty products from secure health and beauty shops and chemists online. There are separate beauty aids for men and women. Just by clicking your mouse on the online websites, you can have beauty products delivered to your door.

Skin care products, cosmetics, dietary supplements, makeover products, perfumes, lipsticks, and other skin supplements are available for purchase online. Online you can also find beauty products that are made from natural herbs and essential oils. Certain online department stores specialize in offering discount beauty products. There are also shops that sell only luxury beauty products and top quality brands.

Most of the beauty product manufacturers have their own websites that provide more details regarding their products. There are a number of websites displaying lists of some of the best shops selling beauty products online. There are even sites that display the week's top seller of a particular product group, which makes it easier for you to judge the market value of a product. Beauty products for sale on the Internet have to satisfy specific guidelines to ensure quality.

Most of the beauty products purchases from websites include shipping charges along with the listed price. Some companies charge shipping fees later during the delivery of the product. Pay Pal is a commonly accepted payment method for online purchases. For international purchases, some of the most popular credit cards such as American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa can be used.

Concept of Beauty is Universal

Beauty is a property associated with human beings. This could be considered even as a characteristic. Beauty is not only related to human beings. Beauty can be associated with locations, certain concepts, certain things etc as well. This property or characteristic named beauty makes other people happy about it. Any thing beautiful is a joy for others to watch.

The word beauty was originally taken from Greek language. According to the Greek interpretation, the word's meaning was - according to one's hour. This has philosophical implications as it implies that every thing beautiful has to belong to its time. So any one who is trying to look too younger or older for their actual age cannot be considered beautiful!!

Now the concept of beauty is universal. But the way people from one geographical location analyze beauty can be different from the perception of beauty as looked at from some one from a different geographical location. These are the cultural differences of beauty. A beautiful person in American culture may not be the same as that in African culture. A simple example is the weight of the person. In the western culture beauty is synonymous with skinny. But in many parts of Africa and Asia, being fat is considered beautiful. This could be understood in the case of Stone Age man, as a fat person would have a much better chance of surviving a famine. When hunting was the major source of one's income, having a really fat wife would have been the equivalent of riding a Lamborghini in today's world!!

Even today in Mauritania, a country in Africa, girls are fattened to such a degree that they are at risk of getting sick at a very young age. As very fat girls are the only ones who get married easily there, it is a common practice there to force feed the girls to extreme levels.

Most societies considered being fat as beautiful until a century ago. The concept of thin beauty is a very recent phenomenon.

The common saying is that, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This phrase defines the subjective nature of beauty to the full extent. As is the case of body weight explained above, people from different cultures tend to look at beauty from different viewpoints.

When it comes to religion, they give more weight to the inner beauty of the person. This usually refers to the character of the person more than his or her looks.

Beauty has mathematical properties too. Beautiful things are usually symmetric and proportional. The Greeks believed that the proportion of the features of any beautiful person must be as per golden ratio. Modern studies have proven that the Greeks ideas on beauty were correct.