I’m not even sure where I came across this video, but it’s something I’ve shown in class a couple of times and have my students write about. What the videographer has done is created a “social experiment” where she’s going around her school and tells people how she’s taking pictures of things that are beautiful. Of course, it’s the person in the frame who she’s talking to. You get a wide range of emotions and reactions from embarrassed giggles to wide open smiles to one girl getting down right belligerent about being told she’s beautiful.
My own students write about their own reactions of the video (it’s from a place MUCH more diverse than where we are at) and it’s fun to see those feelings in word form. However, the question that I pose to many of them who say “I can’t think of anything else” is the title of this blog: What is beauty?
We have such a skewed view of what beauty is from what our “friends” in the media program us to think. This is pretty, this is not. You should want this, if you don’t, you must be odd. Spend it, because that’s where your beauty lies, with the things you have.
Right now we are reading The Light in the Forest, by Conrad Richter, and it talks a lot about Native American culture vs. the white culture of the time, and one of my students asks, “When did we get so screwed up??” I wish I had an answer for her. I wish I had an answer for those thousands of middle school and high school students who are taking their views of beauty from the “happy” lives they see of others on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and the like. I wish I could tell her and others that beauty isn’t what you have, it’s who you are, how you carry yourself, and doing the right thing, period. I wish I could tell her beauty comes from seeing the beauty around you, not trying so hard, and just being you.
But, she’d laugh, as would most students in our culture right now, which is sad (and not the point of my blog!). But as I think, what is beauty, I find it in those people who are willing to step outside the box, doing so to show that the box is only what we make it to be in our own lives. I find beauty is seeing my wife and daughters wake up in the morning, in the kittens in our basement, and frost on my now dead tomato plants. I see the beauty in a genuine smile, a cold beer, and a good baseball game. I see the beauty in my garden (when it’s not overrun with weeds), jars of freshly canned salsa, and apples hanging from tree branches. I see the beauty in words on a screen, in a notebook, and I see the beauty in you, who’s taking the time to read this.
Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, but there is so much out there to see. Don’t let society, my blog, or anything else keep you from seeing what is right in front of you.
I’m rambling, but yet, curious: what is beauty to you?