Is Beauty Only Skin Deep?

By The Spiritual Explorer | Published 15 July, 2015

Dear Spiritual Explorer: My niece feels bad because she thinks she is not as pretty as the models in the magazine. Is it true what people say: Is beauty only skin deep? Sarah P., Galveston, TX

Dear Sarah: There seems to be a revolution happening with regards to how we think that beauty is to be measured and considered. Even Dove Soap has portrayed women in all shapes and sizes in their advertisements in an effort to reassure their customers that they promote full-scale acceptance of the variations and differences with which we measure beauty. As advertisers and promoters rethink the message of– Is beauty only skin deep— they are now attempting to set forth an evolving message that women are persons of varying sizes and shapes that cannot be judged by a limited conception of beauty. Women will no longer allow themselves to be judged as purveyors of merchandising and advertising do in spotlighting anorexic and bulimic models as standards of beauty.

As a teenager I inhabited a life attempting to answer the question of “is beauty only skin deep?” I was influenced by society and my peers as to how I judged myself and those around me, never thinking that there was beauty to be seen within me rather than what appeared outside. Conversely, I was never to see the misery that any of these “beautiful” women were undergoing in their lives, so mesmerized was I by their presentation of beauty. One childhood acquaintance, who to many was a startling example of beauty, later confessed to me in her 30’s that her father had repeatedly sexually abused her as a teen, and that she never felt she could reveal her shame. Instead, she covered it with a glaze of snobbery and sarcasm, which hurt others. It was her way of survival during an era where much abuse was hidden in the latter 50’s and early 60’s.

How I overcame the concept of is beauty only skin deep

When I look back at pictures of myself in my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and even 50’s, I am amazed at how good looking I was, even star pretty. Yet I never knew it. Even though I knew I could attract male attention, I never thought it was given because of my beauty. Somehow I thought that it was just the force of my sexuality, as if my sexuality were something I could be comfortable with advancing. My naïveté and awareness of myself were so limited that I did not see or feel the beauty of myself within. When people would compliment me, I would only think they were being kind, but not truthful. I had totally surrendered to the template of:  Is beauty only skin deep?

Receiving praise for inner beauty confirms accomplishment

Now at my more advanced age, when somebody compliments me, I thank the person and feel it to be true. Even though my outward physical beauty has diminished, when somebody compliments me, I can now accept it and thank him or her. In fact, I love it and do not cover my appreciation of their admiration with a false modesty. It feels as if I have transcended the meme of: is beauty only skin deep?

So, what happened?

I can only say that it took recognition of the self inside me and the spiritual work that I have done. I have attempted to allow my soul to shine forth and not be weighted down by attachments to the material world which includes allowing the world to set standards of beauty for myself. I can only say that I feel beautiful, not all the time, but enough to feel a modicum of satisfaction with myself.

Advice to a child of inner beauty

If a child came to me and asked me “Is beauty only skin deep?” I would sit her down and ask her how she felt about her own looks. I would attempt to draw her attention from outward observance towards looking inside herself for satisfaction. I might even attempt to teach her how wonderful it is to be in silence for a time so that she might discover the truth of beauty just waiting to be discovered. In some ways, I am glad I did not know how attractive I was because I would not have been able to handle it in a conscious way. I think I would have been manipulative and self-serving with that knowledge. In retrospect, it probably saved my soul.

Now, if I am asked, is beauty only skin deep? I can wholeheartedly answer, “We are all beautiful; we just have to be aware and acknowledge that beauty that lies within all of us, no matter our outward appearance.”

If you have a question about “Is Beauty Only Skin Deep,” or anything else, you can write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer.

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