It is a bizarre notion , but what is considered beautiful at any given time in the society, is constantly changing, not unlike the fashion trends. Bizarre, because unlike clothes - people have a soul. Yet, they too are made to feel disposable. If they allow it of course.
What is beauty anyway? They say it is in the eye of the beholder. Which basically means it is subjective. So why do people buy into the trends when it comes to this? Well, for starters we all have insecurities, and those can generate profit all across the board, not just when it comes to one’s looks.
But there’s more. What if this whole manipulation is only possible because most people bought into the idea that beauty only goes as far as skin deep? And this simply isn’t true, but not everyone’s eyes are open to seeing the truth. There is a phrase in the “Avatar” movie that sums it up. When spoken in the film, “I see you” is meant as perceiving the essence of another, as opposed to only the surface level. Not something humans at large have mastered. This inability to feel the energy of the person in front of you, perceive only their appearance, and as a result take things at their face value, is something that can be easily manipulated with various tools of marketing, NLP etc.
The irony of the story is of course the fact that I have spent nearly twenty years working as a model. A very much skin deep beauty kind of industry. I say irony because for a lot of people this will probably sound like a contradiction; why on Earth would a model speak about inner beauty? I personally don’t perceive it as a contradiction, at least not anymore. I think we have many sides and facets to us, and none of them define the whole totality of our being. Perhaps they could define a perception another has of us, but that would simply be their projection based on the limited data available to them.
Additionally, I believe models are the first ones to be negatively affected by the above mentioned dynamic. Their bread and butter literally depends on the current trends when it comes to one’s looks. On top of the financial fluctuations, their self esteem is very much affected on a regular basis, while inevitability facing rejection, as no one can be considered ‘beautiful’ at all times given the nature of the industry. Which sounds ridiculous of course.
Below is an amazing Ted talk by a supermodel Cameron Russell, which further illustrates my point regarding our insecurities despite the seeming privileges.
The job is certainly one of a major contrast. It can prove to you that you’re indeed beautiful one day, and make you doubt yourself the day after. Just like most other industries, it is highly competitive and you are up against other women who won the genetic lottery (in the words of Cameron Russell in the above video) so to speak . It all depends on the subjective feedback you get on different occasions. And if I am completely honest with myself, looking back at the trajectory of my life, one of the main reasons I ended up doing this job, was because a younger part of me desperately wanted to believe she is pretty, and therefore valuable enough. There was very little, if any self worth I emerged with into the adulthood. And beauty, no matter how fickle, is one of the criteria for the female value in our world. Little did I know, that I have so much more to offer, both to myself and others. But this was a start, a stepping stone. Ironically , as mentioned above, it is also very much a double edged sword when it comes to one’s self esteem.
We find ourselves in peculiar times, where technology, while certainly making our lives easier on some levels, makes them bizarre on others. And with the AI developments inevitably impacting this particular industry amongst others, the need for the individuality, authenticity, depth will surely rise. Surely, if it is now possible to recreate any kind of a look out there, without the need for a physical human being, what will be valued higher, is the unique essence one is able to offer, their inner beauty so to speak. This is my hope for many sectors to be honest , but let’s see what happens.
Truth, beauty and goodness. The three universal ideals a humanity must strive towards, the three ideals that are also intimately linked, which is perhaps worth exploring. I did mention it briefly in the below article 5 years ago in relation to Dostoevsky.
Recently I encountered this trinity again in Rudolf Steiner’s work, which made me think deeper about it. I feel that the point that is essential to make is that those three concepts in their highest expression are intimately linked, they are like the three facets of the ideal we must all strive towards. And only by the synthesis of all three, can we arrive to a meaningful and deep expression of each one of them. After listening to what Rudolf Steiner had to say about it, I realised that indeed all of those have become very abstract in our culture. Truth is open to interpretation, so is goodness, and the beauty is something that is highly subjective.
Interestingly, Steiner warned us excessively on the dangers of the AI, way before the Internet was even developed. He didn’t foresee its impact on the beauty aspect, not that I know of anyway, but he did touch upon other issues that might come up. I feel like this is a prime example of the intersection of morality (goodness), truth (half of the time we don’t even know that the picture we are looking at is AI) and beauty. I must admit, while I usually am able to distinguish a text created by ChatGPT almost immediately, I can’t say with a certainty at all times that an image in front of me isn’t really that of a human. One of the reasons for this is the fact that even before the latest tech took the world by storm, there was always a chance that heavy retouching aka photoshop will make a model look extremely fake and non human.
The trend of fake being attractive was around for a long time waiting to be embraced by more people before the AI had a permission to really kick in, at least that’s what it feels like. I mean if you look at how many people willingly go under the knife to achieve a certain look, and end up looking the same as every other Instagram influencer, is it really that surprising that this is now the new normal? To me personally, the more you mess with Nature, the further you move away from what is true, good and beautiful; aka the Divine in all of us. It is very different story to “play God” as a result of the lower ego desires of wanting the perfect body and face in order to attract the best male, than realise you are the embodiment of the Creator and can make this world a better place by bettering yourself from the inside.
Ironically, the latter scenario is very much what goes on in Nature, I mean wanting to attract the best male or female of the species. But do you see animals going to a plastic surgeon in order to achieve the desired result ? They have their tricks of course, natural beauty tricks - just look at the peacock and what a beautiful display he creates to showcase his attractiveness. Imagine if he suddenly decided the colours and the volume don’t really do it, as the trends have changed you see.
We as humans, while having the animal physiology, also have a rational, as well as the individual consciousness component, which creates a more complex set of circumstances in our lives. So how do we arrive at what is the true expressions of the trinity of beauty, truth and goodness? I don’t know, but I do want to find out and hopefully your comments will be eye opening.