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Posts Tagged ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Among the many instances in which we find, in popular media, a beautiful female either falling in love with or giving her affection to a comparatively unattractive and/or awkward male are the following:

Theory of EverythingWe have the graceful and lovely Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) and the nerdy, awkward Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) in the 2014 film “The Theory of Everything.”

Bill HaverchuckVicki ApplebyGoing back about 15-16 years to the short-lived but subsequently quite popular television series “Freaks and Geeks,” we find cute cheerleader Vicki Appleby (JoAnne Garcia Swisher) in the closet with lanky geek Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr) after a game of spin-the-bottle.  At first she is perfectly beastly toward him, but she gradually warms up to him and, before their time is up, gives him a kiss.

Beauty and the BeastAnd then of course there is the archetypal “Beauty and the Beast.”  Need I say more?

We tend to see and hear about situations like these, in which a man not blessed with physical attractiveness or grace is nonetheless blessed with the affection of a beautiful woman, and think to ourselves: “Wow — good for him.”

But let’s reverse the situation a minute.  Imagine a strapping, musclebound, suave, and extremely handsome young man lovingly courting a woman who is grossly overweight, wears glasses, has a retainer, and has nothing of what anyone would consider conventional attractiveness. We see something like that and we think: “Wow — good for him.”

See where I’m going with this?  When a woman looks beyond mere appearances and finds the goodness inside, we think very little in her favor.  We expect it of her.  But when a man does so, we seem to think he is “going the extra mile,” and to be heartily congratulated for it.

Albrecht_Dürer_-_Adam_and_Eve_(Prado)_2“Albrecht Dürer – Adam and Eve (Prado) 2” by Albrecht Dürer – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Albrecht_D%C3%BCrer_-_Adam_and_Eve_(Prado)_2.jpg#/media/File:Albrecht_D%C3%BCrer_-_Adam_and_Eve_(Prado)_2.jpg

Granted, part of this may be due to a certain intuition about the nature of man and woman.  We read in Genesis 2 that Adam was created before Eve, surveyed all of creation in its manifold richness (rocks, trees, sea, animals, etc.), and could not find a companion suitable for himself; God then makes Eve, the first woman.

Don’t panic. Whether or not this is literally how events transpired is irrelevant.  What the Sacred Text gives us is a psychology of man and woman.  Through the person of Adam, we see that man’s initial purview includes merely things.  Granted, some of these are living things; but even these are not en-souled persons like himself.  The arrival of the woman completes his purview.

On the other hand, through Eve we see that woman’s purview from the very beginning includes persons.  This is perhaps fitting, since she is meant to bear life within herself for nine months.  It may be, therefore, that a certain nurturing spirit, awareness of beauty within, and gift of oneself in kindness comes more naturally to women than to men.

So it is quite possible that a similar insight explains why media portrayals of beautiful-woman-falls-for-not-so-beautiful-man are more frequent than the opposite.  Still, while it is true that our intuitions influence art and media, the reverse is also true.

Let me be clear: Recognizing that beauty is not only skin deep is good. To recognize a woman’s ability to see this is likewise good. But as a man, I am concerned that we do not hold ourselves to the same standard.  Discernment in romantic matters is no easy thing, and no one of either sex should have to bear this burden alone.

Image of Adam and Eve from Wikipedia; remaining images obtained through a Google image search

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