Everything is relative to something else. Without a reference point, there is no way to judge whether or not this woman is beautiful. This ancient idea may not seem to make much sense in the modern world where the standards of beauty are quite rigorously defended, using very deep pockets. When you throw the kind of money around in the colossal digits that the global beauty industry uses to convince you what is beautiful and what is not, (roughly about 170 billion dollars per year*) I don’t care what you look like, you will be hailed as the beauty queen standard of the human race. Without this huge influx of money, our ideas of beauty will change to that which is more localizes, more in tune with the environment that we live in.
This is a look that is all the vogue in a small corner of the world where the multi-billion dollar beauty industry has not touched because there is no profit to be made here.
Unsullied by the ideals of beauty that exists in someone else’s mind, the indigenous people have come up with their own ideas of what make their hearts skip a beat, what make them go misty-eyed when they come face-to-face with such angelic beauty. After countless generations have passed, this is their most recent verdict.
Photograph by Ian Transue, My Shot. National Geographic
A Mursi woman from the Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia is adorned with face markings and an ornamental clay lip plate, considered signs of beauty among her people.
The indigenous population of many areas of the world would look at the face of the modern woman above, with all her piercings and tattoos, and consider her barely within the range of what they consider beautiful. After all, her lips are still normal-sized, and her neck is not adorned with a 12″ thick set of rings. They will give bonus points for her very elongated and stretched ears though, as well as her nice nose ring and her pointed canines.
They certainly would not give this woman much consideration. Knowing how western society views beauty, having been immersed in the western culture for most of my lifetime, I can safely say that Angelina Jolie is within the realm of the highest order of westernized beauty. Notice, I said westernized beauty, because this is not the ideal beauty for the Asian community (or the African community, or any other non-western community). For the Mursi people in Ethiopia, Angelina Jolie would not pass the beauty bar, for obvious reasons.
If all humans are equal in the eyes of the Tao, who that live on this Earth would have the temerity to say that the Mursi people’s thoughts, perceptions, ideals, and truths are inferior and less valid than the western ideals, truths, and perceptions are? If we are what we think and if our minds create all that there is, then what does that say about the value of those thoughts when placed side-by-side with another being whose thoughts have the same value and powers as ours?
We may say that perhaps since we are more technologically and sociologically advanced than the Mursi people, our ideals, perceptions, and truths have more merit. But then that begs another question.
What if there is another civilization that is far, far superior to ours? What if their civilization and technologies, when compared with ours, would make what we have achieved very closely on the same par as the Mursi people? What if the difference between us and the Mursi people are far less than the difference between us and these much more advanced beings?
Perhaps to them, our idea of beauty is so very awkward and archaic. Perhaps they think we look so very silly, trying to paint our mouths a bright and cheerful red when the natural lip color cannot possibly be that red. Perhaps to them, mascara and eyeliner make us look extremely ugly, the pigments causing our faces to take on grotesque lines that detract from our natural looks.
Perhaps they think this is the ultimate of female beauty.
What if they decided tomorrow, that they would outspend every single beauty company on this Earth, and market their idea of what legitimate beauty benchmark is?
If they spend one-hundred-trillion dollars on a mass-marketing scheme that would reach every single individual on this Earth, Mursi and American alike, would we eventually try to make our heads larger and our eyes blacker so that we could reach this seemingly impossible idealization of what beauty is suppose to look like?
Would our species begin to procreate based upon this image, slowly causing a social evolution to occur, where the most alien-grey looking human would get the most sexual activity, eventually causing the human race to look more and more alien?
Just a thought…
* gcimagagazine.com. Personal Care Market Value Chart
I think the ideals of beauty depends more on genes than on marketing strategies of big companies. Most ancient Greek and Roman beauty ideals expressed in statues still remain beautiful in modern people’s eyes, and these ideals had already prevailed long before the advent of mass media, with which big companies of modern times manipulate people’s minds. For the same reason, a male monkey will be sexually attracted by a female monkey, but never by a female human being.
I will have to disagree with your assertion. The ideals of beauty depend on what you perceive to be beautiful. Most ancient Greek and Roman statues would be considered too chubby to be the ideal beauty in today’s world. Also, people who have Romanesque noses are now going under the knife to thin down the nose and to make it less prominent. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Sure, you can certainly have genetics that may be more appealing to the general population than someone else, but this is spread across all races and not just concentrated on those with the more western look. A beautiful woman of any race is always going to be more beautiful than a homely woman of any race.
As for ape/human attraction, there have been many documented cases of apes raping or attempting to rape human females, so again, I would have to disagree with you there.
Do you like Chuang Tzu? You know the part with beauties and fishes?