Are we preconditioned to judge by appearance?

This is more like an add-on to the post from yesterday. So if you haven’t read that check it out here, or you can ignore this and pretend like you’ve been here all along and know what’s going on.

So yesterday I gave some background on foot binding in China. I also promised you that I did take some information out so that you wouldn’t scroll past my post thinking you didn’t have time for it. Now, I give you two remaining tidbits of thought from the subject of Chinese foot binding.

1) In the Shanxi province of China Chinese women would actually compete for the smallest feet. Like a beauty pageant, but for feet.  There were lots of smaller contests for feet throughout the country, but the one in the Shanxi province was like the Miss America pageant of today.

I’m telling you this because of this quote from Bosch and Mancoff (link to their book): “The urge to judge and be judged on the basis of appearance seems nearly universal.” This quote hit me hard.  No one ever teaches us to judge others on appearance, it’s something innate within us.  We never have to be taught how to be selfish or how to lie, just like we don’t have to be taught to judge others based on appearance.

It’s not just America and China that judge others based on appearance either.  All cultures across time and space have always been drawn toward beauty and away from ugly, or unattractive if you want a softer word. What is this thing within us that draws us toward beauty? And how do we all automatically know that the character Cinderella is prettier than her step sisters?  I know people say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that’s not exactly true.  We all admire facial symmetry, big eyes, clear skin, full lips, and straight teeth.  Who gave us this preconceived notion of beauty?  Feel free to sound off your opinion in the comments.

2) Here is the second, rather lengthy quote that hit me hard from this book: “All cultures pursue ideals of beauty that run counter to the natural appearance of the human body. . . standards of beauty are culturally specific, and what symbolizes perfection in one society embodies the grotesque in another.  However, the true tyranny of beauty lies not in the desire for a leaner silhouette, fuller breasts, or turned-up nose, but in the belief that such changes in appearance will transform a woman’s life and redefine her identity” (pg. 221).

Wow.  Oh wait, did you skip over that quote because it was long? Oh okay, well I will try to explain it through my commentary.  First, why do all cultures choose to try to change something about their bodies?  Bending feet, cracking ribs, starving, what is this? Why can’t we just be okay with being normal, unbent women? I think some of the most naturally beautiful women that I have seen are the ones who do just that: nothing. They just eat healthy, take walks, laugh, go outside, love others, and love God. But that’s just too simple isn’t that.

Second, let’s talk about that last sentence (Bazinga!) because commentary on beauty in society just doesn’t get better than that. The real tragedy is not in starving ourselves or wrapping our feet, it’s this mindset that this well someone change everything for us. This might get personal but I have often thought that if I had just been born looking like Rachel McAdams or Adriana Lima, that my life would be so much better. I daydream about how much easier life would be if I were beautiful.  I sometimes even use it as an excuse saying well, if I was pretty I would be more outgoing but since I’m not, I’ll just stay in my little corner. That is not good! Not good at all you say. Well, that is very forward of you, but if you must know I am working on it.

1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

This verse reminds me of something important. If I woke up tomorrow looking like Rachel McAdams, God would not see my any differently. Absolutely nothing would change. NOTHING. I cannot emphasize that enough.  He does not look at our outward appearance. And His opinion is all that matters. Really, it is.

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6 thoughts on “Are we preconditioned to judge by appearance?

  1. This was truly encouraging. However, I do have a question. I have always believed that every person is beautiful in their own way. Some people are just more attractive then others. Do you believe that there are truly ugly people or people that are just less attractive than others?

    • Thank you for your comment! This would probably require a lengthier answer than I can give here, but I will try my best. The answer to this depends on how you define “ugly” and “less attractive.” I tend to find that “less attractive” is just a less offensive way of saying “ugly.” In everyday conversations I often hear people use “ugly” for actors in films, since they don’t know these actors personally. However, they would never use this term for someone that they know in real life. Again, someone may call someone bad-looking, but never “ugly” even though “bad-looking” is in fact a synonym for “ugly.” I like to see “ugly” not as this terribly offensive word, but simply as a word to describe the general bottom of the scale for outward looks. In the same way, I use the term “beautiful” at the opposite end of the scale, even though I do not think that anyone is perfect in appearance. “Ugly” and “Beautiful” describe a scale for me. I Hope that helps!

  2. ^Also, you’re absolutely beautiful. You do not fit into any of these categories 🙂

  3. I just read every single blog entry, you are marvelous! I love how you just jump
    Into such a tiptoed around subject!

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