It is said that beauty is worshiped, as if this were a novelty of the present day. But it is not. The history of humankind shows that beauty is present throughout all times and cultures. And art is a reflection of this need to capture it. Among hundreds of examples, see the Venus de Milo, from Century II BC – the famous Greek statue which is in the Louvre, or David, of 1504 – one of the statues of Michelangelo. Both are representations of the ideal of beauty.
Early on, stories like Snow White or Cinderella populate a child's imagination, revealing the desire for beauty and the envy that it raises.
Youth is not a trace of modern days either. There is a classical myth, of Greco-Roman origin, which talks about the fountain of youth being a river originating on Mount Olympus (the home of the gods), passing through the earth and which made immortal those who drank from its waters. And there are several other legends about the pursuit of youth, this search that plagues us all in time. The myth of the vampire is merely an expression of desire for eternal youth.
But in these stories or legends, beauty and youth demanded a price almost always too high to be paid – the loss of the soul, isolation, unhappiness. As if humanity were being warned about the limits of their desires.
Beauty and youth are not, therefore, characteristics of today's world. They are part of the essence of humanity ever since the beginning of desire, vanity, fear of aging, envy, finally, since man is man.
What happens now is that the mechanisms to pursue beauty and youth were morally and scientifically overcome. There are no stories that threaten to destroy anyone who wants to be beautiful, nor are there limits to the pursuit of youth. What we want is to maintain a youthful and beautiful appearance at any price. And all this was exacerbated to such an extent that there are no limits.
Consumer society has created standards and legitimized the desire for beauty and youth, and science helped humankind achieve those standards – so often misrepresented and wrong. This combination of youth and beauty feeds an industry that moves billions and it has made us – each and every one of us – hostage to it. Nobody knows how to stop this mad quest for perfection, but society is this way because we contributed for it to be so, by accepting the standards imposed by the aesthetic industry, by pursuing the perfect beauty and by struggling to erase the traces of age.
Does anyone really believe any of those products that claim to rejuvenate the body in four weeks? Does anyone really believe those before and after pictures of miraculous lotions? And what about the excessive surgeries that transform women into deformed beings, with a still and expressionless face, and a huge mouth? Is that beauty?
We submit to the tyranny of the endless search for perfect bodies and unchanged faces, sculpted by the scalpel. And sometimes, being young is not enough: we see fifteen year old girls placing silicone implants and doing liposuction... It is the height of desperation in the pursuit of perfection!
The body has become the center of the universe, around which revolves the whole process of socialization. And people have never been so unhappy, so empty and lonely. Fears, dissatisfactions and depressions multiply. Nobody is beautiful enough – not even the most beautiful. Living off beauty or for beauty does not increase self-confidence or happiness, on the contrary, in most cases, it increases insecurity and unhappiness, because the standards are always too high, unreachable: Brad Pitt's eyes, Georges Clooney’s smile, Johnny Depp’s style, Angelina Jolie's mouth, Charlize Theron’s beauty, Halle Berry's skin...
We all pay the price for this rampant demand for beauty and the ephemeral: we refuse to admit our age, but youth will phase out, and that's inevitable. It is a natural process of maturation of the body; it is the road of no return towards old age (word that arouses true horror in some people!). The truth is that, today, this insane quest for lost youth made the wisdom and serenity of age no longer valued. No matter what we look like, age is inexorable and time does not stop.
The real problem is not with the marks of the passage of time on the body or on the face. The problem is inside: in the head and in the soul. Those who fight against time and against nature are doomed to unhappiness. It's like trying to hold the wind in your hands: in the end, they always end up empty.
We must accept the body before we accept age. Accepting imperfections and making strengths out of them: Beyoncé’s body became her greatest triumph; Lilly Collins turned her bushy eyebrows into her face’s main feature, Barbara Streisand’s nose made her into a beauty icon... Feeling good with the body is the first step toward the harmony and it depends solely on each and every one of us. Sensuous women are women who accept what nature gave them and do not waste time trying to change it.
And then we have to accept our age – whatever it is – in order to be happy. There’s no use stretching our skin and looking startled all day long, putting on Botox and turning into a motionless statue, moving the fat from the thighs (or somewhere else) to the mouth, adding liters of silicone here and there, and still be unhappy... Age does not change: it is what it is!
And what about the mirror? Well, the mirror has to be an ally and not an enemy. It only returns our image: it is a reflection of what we are. Mirrors like happy people. And happiness is really simple: it is linked to acceptance and well-being. Age brings us wisdom and grace to know how to age gracefully and to accept it. And those who deny this will inevitably fall into the traps of the ridicule.