Why do you love the people close to you? Not just the members of the family you were born or adopted into, but those you have chosen to have in your life?
Is it because of how they look? Or do you love them for who they are?
There’s a huge difference between outer beauty and inner beauty, and both of them have their place. In our youth-obsessed culture, external attractiveness is often put at the forefront of desirability in others. Yet when it comes to describing the people we adore most, we often talk about how much we love their personality traits, rather than their bodies.
Let’s take a look at some truths about inner beauty vs outer beauty, how they manifest, and why the former seems to be far more appreciated over time.
1. Outer beauty is subjective, inner beauty can be seen by everyone.
If you ask 100 people what they find physically beautiful in others, you’ll get a lot of different responses.
To illustrate this, Huffington Post ran a series in which people from many different countries were given photos of a man and a woman, and were asked to photoshop them to represent what they considered to be “ideal beauty.”
What one person might find physically attractive might be a huge turn-off to another, and vice versa. This is great in the sense that you’ll be less likely to compete with your friends for lovers if your tastes in physical beauty vary. It also means that according to the law of averages, no matter what a person looks like, there’s someone out there who will find them attractive.
When it comes to inner beauty, however, that’s quite a different story.
Take Princess Diana, for example. Yes, many people considered her to be a physically beautiful woman. Others did not. The one thing everyone could agree upon was that she had an incredibly kind, giving heart, and she was always willing to help those who needed her. That made her radiant beyond measure.
2. Outer beauty is largely beyond our control, inner beauty can be cultivated.
If you have enough money, you can achieve some level of outer beauty. One look at the average celebrity will prove that much. Plastic surgery can transform just about anyone’s features into shapes that the majority will find attractive.
Even if a person can’t afford a ton of cosmetic surgery, they can adjust their appearance with makeup, hair dye, exercise, and wardrobe adjustments.
But neither a personal trainer nor a scalpel can alter someone’s personality enough to turn them into a person that everyone will admire and adore.
In contrast, you don’t need a cent to cultivate inner beauty. The most basic practice of being aware of how you treat people and striving to improve upon that will help your inner beauty grow.
You can read and educate yourself in all manner of different subjects for free via libraries, online videos, as well as some online journals and academic resources. Developing your mind often develops your heart at the same time because all knowledge is interwoven with people and creatures and things that deserve care.
Learn different languages, study various world religions, get acquainted with various aspects of humanity’s history, both the dark and light bits. Want to be a bastion of inner peace, generosity of spirit, and loving kindness? Immerse yourself in spiritual studies, and start a meditation practice.
Getting involved in charitable works or nonprofit organizations is another great way to get that inner beauty stoked and glowing. Everyone has a skill that they can share to help others in need.
A giving heart and sincere care for others are two unparalleled traits when it comes to inner beauty. Even better, they can be cultivated at any time, with any skill set and able-bodiedness.
3. Outer beauty creates initial attraction, inner beauty generates long-lasting affection.
If you’re at a festival and your eyes follow a drop-dead gorgeous creature who walks by, it’s unlikely that you’re suddenly lusting over their personality. There’s nothing wrong with that: we are sexual beings, and can have instant attraction and chemistry to people we find physically attractive.
How often, however, have you gawped and fluttered after someone, only to be put off once you got to know them a little bit?
Some are far better looking on the outside than they are on the inside. They may be cruel, or racist, or judgmental, or embody any other number of less-than-wonderful traits. That’s disappointing, but also means that your pairing will likely be brief, rather than long-term.
In contrast, how many times have you gotten to know someone and fallen in love with their heart, mind, and spirit? These people may be just as attractive externally as they are internally. Or, they might be average-looking on the onset, but get more and more beautiful to you as you get to know them.
When you talk about the people you love, do you focus more on their physical traits or who they are inside? Sure, we may talk about how much we adore our lovers’ posteriors, eyes, lips, etc. But when we discuss the aspects about them that we love the most, we tend to talk about their sense of humor, intellect, kindness, etc.
4. Outer beauty changes over time, inner beauty is eternal.
Some people say that beauty fades over time, but most people prefer to think that it merely changes into a different form.
There’s a different beauty to be found in a regal, mature woman than the kind she had when she was a teenager. Similarly, a man in his middle to later years can be even more striking than he was in his twenties.
The kindness and gentleness in a person’s eyes doesn’t shine any less brightly because there are deep laugh lines etched nearby. A smile isn’t less reassuring or encouraging because it’s surrounded by a grey beard.
Many people who are very attached to their physical attractiveness get anxious and depressed when they start to see signs of aging in themselves. In contrast, those who don’t place as huge an emphasis on their physical beauty tend to be more comfortable with the natural aging process.
They know that their worth isn’t dependent upon how many people ogle their six pack or their cleavage. These people will draw others to them wherever they go because of the light that they exude. Whether they’re 18 or 81, they’ll still be welcomed and adored by throngs of people who recognize just how wonderful they are.
And when they pass on from this life, people will have far sweeter things to say about them than “they were pretty to look at.”
Beautiful Traits That People Love Most
When asked what traits they most look for in a spouse or life partner, the vast majority of people name things that have absolutely nothing to do with outer beauty.
They’re traits that they admire, want to experience on a constant basis, and feel are ideal in the people they want to keep in their lives.
Some of the top responses that make the average list are the following:
- A good sense of humor
- A supportive nature
- Willingness to play and have fun
As you can see, these are traits that anyone can embody. Furthermore, they’re aspects that we can love and admire in people other than our romantic partners.
When we think of the reasons why we love and admire our friends, parents, grandparents, and children, chances are many of these traits will make that list. Generally, people love their family members and close friends regardless of how they look. They could be put through threshing machines and we’d still love them because we adore them for who they are and how they make us feel.
Audrey Hepburn had something great to say about inner beauty vs outer beauty:
“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”
Although the quote above specifically mentions women, it can work for people of any gender.
When we place more emphasis on inner beauty than outer beauty, we can learn to appreciate other people (and ourselves) on several different levels. We can look past any physical traits to see who these people really are.
Be aware that when you start to focus more on inner beauty than outer, you may get a bit choked up about past experiences. When we start to do more spiritual work and soul searching, we may realize how often we may have immediately dismissed others from our lives because we’ve been judgmental about their appearance.
A great example of that is this interview with actor Dustin Hoffman. In the mid 1980s, he was cast in a movie called “Tootsie,” in which he played an actor who dresses as a woman in order to get an acting role. His experience, which involved him living life as an average-looking woman rather than a beautiful one, humbled him.
“I went home and started crying, talking to my wife. And I said I have to make this picture, and she said, ‘Why?’ And I said, because I think I am an interesting woman when I look at myself on screen. And I know that if I met myself at a party, I would never talk to that character because she doesn’t fulfill physically the demands that we’re brought up to think women have to have in order for us to ask them out. There are too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed.”
If you’ve experienced something like this firsthand, having judged others by how they look, that’s okay. Please be gentle and forgiving with yourself about it. We all learn and grow through our missteps, and sometimes those missteps can be painful ones.
Similarly, if you’ve been on the receiving end of other people’s superficial judgment and unkindness, know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Those people were coming from places of their own programming. Even though they may have been hurtful toward you, ultimately they’re doing themselves a great disservice in not allowing themselves to see past initial appearances.
All of us can appreciate both inner beauty and outer beauty, and hopefully find our own magical balance between the two. We can recognize that physical beauty comes in many different forms, and that people don’t lose beauty when and if our shells change over time.
We love one another dearly for who we are, not how we look.
Just like favorite books we’ve read time and time again, the stories contained inside and the emotions they evoke matter far more than the different covers that may encase them temporarily.
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- How Important Is Physical Attraction In A Relationship? 7 Things To Consider.
- Can Attraction Grow? (+ 7 Ways To Become Attracted To Someone)
- 11 Reasons To Date Someone You’re Not Physically Attracted To
- How To Be Comfortable In Your Own Skin: 17 No Nonsense Tips!