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Beauty is as beauty does

Many years ago I arrived home from work to find my son and a friend busy at the kitchen table. The boys were about 10 or 11 years old at the time and I assumed they were working on a school assignment.

“What are you guys up to?” I asked, looking over their shoulders. They seemed a bit sheepish and did not respond. I could see they had written on a piece of notebook paper a list of girls’ names with a number adjacent to each name.

“What’s this?” I asked. The boys awkwardly explained they had made a list of all the girls in their class and had rated each one on a scale of one to 10. They were apparently inspired by the Bo Derek movie, “10,” which was still a topic of conversation at that time.

I immediately launched into a lecture on the errors of their ways. The boys listened without comment. When I was done, I looked at the list again.

I recognized a name on the list — a young lady who was not at all physically attractive — and noticed a high number adjacent to her name. The boys had rated her a nine, I recall.

When I commented on this rating my son explained, “Well, she really isn’t very cute but she’s the nicest girl in our class so we gave her a high number.” His friend nodded in agreement.

After commending them for seeing true beauty in this classmate, I warned them of the dangers of such lists and urged them to rip this one into pieces and throw it away — quickly.

This incident came to mind years later when I read that an Internet website was proposing to auction the eggs of beautiful models to couples who want good-looking children. I didn’t know whether to be angry at the guy proposing the deal or at the people who would buy the eggs for that reason.

This idea was not only preposterous, it was a sad reminder of our society’s twisted obsession with physical appearance and its lack of concern for the quality of the mind and soul.

Come to think of it, I haven’t heard or read of this proposal in the couple of decades that have followed.

Meanwhile, to offset any charges of hypocrisy, I will confess that I am not blind to comeliness. One of the women on our staff at the Sioux City Journal made “drool cups” for us guys when we reacted like schoolboys to a gorgeous woman who walked through our department.

Ladies, don’t tell me you pay no attention to handsome men. I’ve heard your comments on guys’ beautiful eyes, great hair, hot physique or firm buns.

Having not been blessed with such attributes, I am fully cognizant of their value. Back when I was in radio news I applied for a job in television news. When I didn’t get the job one of my co-workers suggested it was because I had a radio face.

Think about it — how many big guys with receding hairlines and large noses do you see on the 10 o’clock news?

Every age and culture has defined beauty in its own way. The robust beauties in Ruben’s 17th century paintings would be considered overweight by today’s anorexic society. What women find physically attractive in men has surely changed over the years too.

Ironically, our society’s views of beauty are founded on the premise that only a minority actually meet their criteria. If every woman looked like Scarlett Johansson, she would no longer make Bubba’s head spin. If every man looked like Leonardo Di Caprio, he would no longer send young women’s hearts racing.

With such criteria being so fickle, it makes sense to focus on the qualities that endure beyond youth, beyond circumstances, beyond society’s views, beyond this life.

Purchasing eggs from beautiful women to increase the odds of giving birth to beautiful babies was a frightening development. I hope the couples willing to fork over megabucks for a model’s eggs understand genetics and consider the fact every family has an Uncle Ed with protruding ears and a bulbous nose and an Aunt Pearl with a triple chin and a mustache thicker than Ed’s.

And I hope they realize that Ed and Pearl might just be the sweetest, most truly beautiful folks in the egg donor’s entire family.

Arvid Huisman can be contacted at huismaniowa@gmail.com. ©2024 by Huisman Communications.

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