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Robert Tornambe, M.D.

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What Is Beauty? A Plastic Surgeon's Perspective

Posted: 03/24/11 10:06 AM ET

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. ~ Confucius

The word "beauty" is the most overused, misunderstood, poorly defined word in the English language. What makes a woman beautiful? The Holy Grail of beauty has never been completely understood. The cliché, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," is incorrect in my opinion. Perception is the key. It is "perception of beauty" that is in the eye of the beholder. Each of us, however, has a different perception of beauty. We all have different tastes, likes and dislikes, and this affects our definition and perception of beauty with regard to the American woman. As a plastic surgeon, it is my job to counsel people about this perception of beauty because so many misconceptions exist.

We are all familiar with the "classic" physical features that are considered beautiful in our society. A pretty face, gorgeous eyes and a nice figure are examples often cited. However, it is my contention that each of us has a different perception of a pretty face, gorgeous eyes and a nice figure. It is that perception -- believing that a blonde is prettier than a redhead, or blue eyes are prettier than green eyes, for instance -- that causes confusion. If we cannot agree on what traits define beauty, because each of us perceives beauty differently, how can a woman discover her own beauty?

Unfortunately, we rely on "beauty authorities," such as Hollywood, fashion designers and style experts to define beauty for us. The standards and criteria of beauty set by our society have been manipulated and bastardized and are wrong, absurd and unrealistic. Our role models have become 20-something starlets and fashion models whose photographs have been carefully orchestrated, airbrushed, Photoshopped and drastically altered. In person, these people do not look like their photos! The Huffington Post is certainly doing their part to expose this.

So, how does the non-celebrity woman compete? She cannot! Women are unduly influenced into negative opinions about themselves and forced to chase an illusion. The deck is stacked totally against them. We must change our perception of beauty and choose realistic role models. We also must abandon the notion that youth is the only path towards beauty. Women must embrace the fact that true beauty does, and must, transcend the decades as we age. We are all familiar with gorgeous women in every decade of life. If we must use celebrities as examples, there are actresses such as Betty White, Helen Mirren and Penelope Cruz.

We must change these perceptions, attitudes and behavior to make it better for the next generation. We must educate our children to recognize that physical characteristics alone do not make a woman beautiful. We must stop sending the wrong, unhealthy, superficial message to our daughters and granddaughters about the definition of beauty. It would help to choose role models who make sense: smart, vivacious, confident women, representing every decade of life.

It is my assertion that each woman has a Beauty Quotient. This quotient is made up of three distinct categories: Physical Health, Psychological Health and Personal Appearance:

  • Physical Health consists of corporeal characteristics that define a woman's beauty, and trust me -- each and every woman has physical characteristics that are truly beautiful. A woman's face or body can be structurally imperfect, but still exquisite.
  • Psychological Health involves one's personality, intelligence, sensitivity and warmth, sense of humor, attitude and overall level of confidence.
  • Personal Appearance includes your beauty routine. This involves habits regarding skin-care regimen, hair and makeup routines, wardrobe, posture and style.

It is the combination of physical and mental elements from these three categories that define a woman's beauty. A woman may raise her Beauty Quotient significantly by simply tweaking various elements within these categories. A combination of intangibles can make a woman beautiful.

My quest is about convincing women to recognize their inner and outer beauty by changing their attitude and being able to take an honest, positive look at themselves. I would like them to look in the mirror and see the glass half full instead of half empty. It is OK to look like yourself and not someone else. My recommendation is that women identify and embrace those attributes that make them beautiful, and then learn to accentuate them. Learn to celebrate your best features and set realistic, achievable goals regarding your own beauty.

We, as a society, must change the rules and allow a woman's beauty to evolve with her as she ages to suit her current stage of life. Age with dignity, while still looking your best and, more importantly, still looking like you. It is my opinion that a combination of physical and mental traits truly makes a woman beautiful. So much of a woman's beauty is under her direct control. Learn to take control!

You don't love a woman because she is beautiful, but she is beautiful because you love her.
--Oscar Wilde

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To learn more about my concepts regarding beauty, please go to the book's website, www.TheBeautyQuotient.com, or friend me on Facebook.

 
 
 

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