Goal: Rediscovering Beauty: A Stand Against Modern Ugliness

Beauty is defined as “a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.”

Throughout history, people have deeply loved and appreciated what is beautiful, exemplifying the importance of attractiveness in our cultural beauty standards. They loved the sunset, an attractive woman, or a well-built church, all embodying traditional beauty values. And that beauty extended to what is virtuous: man loved heroes and sought to pursue ideals. He wanted what was both noble and aesthetically pleasing. And such men were wise enough to avoid worshipping what was ugly.

As with many things, our modern world has gone astray, influenced by shifting modern aesthetics. Over the past decade, we have replaced the fit and attractive Calvin Klein model with androgynous blobs. In addition, we’ve replaced stable, nuclear families on TV and ads with dull single moms and broken families. Our films, games, and TVs, reflecting the lowering beauty and social trends of our time, are inundated with people who are mediocre in looks, actions, and beliefs.

Today, we are steeped in ugliness. The ruling classes and elites push such ugliness to appease the mob and their diminishing standards. But man cannot thrive without beauty and virtue.

Therefore, we will explore beauty: why it’s essential to individual health and wellness, what the turn from beauty to ugliness means for our society, and how we can display the beauty that once permeated everyday life.

Table of Contents

  • The Essence of Beauty: Understanding Its Importance and Impact
  • The Problem: The Rise of Ugliness in Modern Culture
    • Modern Aesthetics: Navigating Subpar Beauty Standards in Today’s Culture
  • The Intersection of Beauty and Wellness: A Holistic Approach
  • Concluding Thoughts: Personal Health, Beauty, and Societal Change
  • Actionables
    • Reading List

The Essence of Beauty: Understanding Its Importance and Impact

“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” – Anne Frank

Beauty is a non-negotiable. Man needs to see the world as it ought to be to appreciate what is good and wondrous about life.

Logically, beauty reveals to us what is good about life. For example, a fit person shows the dedication and virtue required to lose weight and keep it off. An obese person shows the pitfalls of overconsumption and vice. The man, willing to dress nicely, shows temperance and social intelligence to display himself as best. The man who dresses poorly shows his lack of concern about social etiquette and personal discipline. When one takes the time to admire, protect, and expand beauty, more effort is put forward than when one shuns or attacks beauty.

Philosophically, thinkers from Ayn Rand to Thomas Aquinas have acknowledged the necessity for beauty for the individual and society as a whole. To me, thinkers as diverse and opposed as Rand and Aquinas coming to similar conclusions about a topic show how crucial it is to individual development.

However, our modern and dying collectivist cultures celebrate what is ugly, plain, and unimpressive. Historically, this has always happened in dying cultures. For example, the Soviet Union constantly displayed the most brutal and uninspired art pieces to the masses. They did not need what was attractive and impressive. They made blocky, uninspired buildings to ensure the populace was uninspired. And they repurposed and burned down the beautiful, divine church buildings that pointed the souls of the citizens to something greater than collectivism.

The Problem: The Rise of Ugliness in Modern Culture

modern art

Most architecture is jagged and lifeless, lacking personality and divinity. We are not meant to be inspired when we see modern buildings and art.

So, what causes the love of ugliness to rise in our modern era?

Ayn Rand astutely pointed out that you can judge the health of a culture by its art. Man reflects what he values, and if you see ugly things everywhere, you are dealing with a nasty culture full of ugly souls.

A man who consumes work about death, mayhem, and nihilism probably isn’t optimistic, charitable, or mentally strong. We are what we eat, and art is no different.

Whether art influences a society’s direction or the society influences art, I can’t say. But art is a mirror into a man’s and society’s soul.

Therefore, modern collectivism, with its comforts, identity politics, and nihilism, has led to a rise of depressing, shallow movies, comics, and books. Remakes show a lack of creativity and courage. Works about identity politics show a lack of nuance and depth. It’s easy to slap an identity on a character instead of making someone who is compelling and virtuous.

Our ads reflect the “diversity” of broken homes, single moms, and fatherlessness. Our ads also show ugly, unfit models who better represent the rise in obese, unhealthy Americans.

“Anti-heroes” run amok everywhere, darkening creative works with their boring motivations and lack of morality. Such anti-heroes reflect our society’s lack of moral fortitude when it comes to deviant sexuality or government corruption.

Modern Aesthetics: Navigating Subpar Beauty Standards in Today’s Culture

Weak individuals use lowering beauty standards to justify their failings. Single moms are going to prefer more media positively depicting single moms. Obese individuals will want to see more ads with obese people and so on. People crave to see their low standards reflected to them.

If we have no beauty, we have nothing to strive for. For example, a beautiful model should not make us feel insecure. She should remind us that beauty exists and that we can achieve our own beauty if we exercise, eat well, and intentionally groom ourselves. Or the positives a nuclear family represents. We should align our sexual desires with creating and building a familial unit that supports the health and well-being of children instead of pursuing sexual thrills that leave such children without a stable home.

It’s the same with heroes. The more heroes we have, the easier it is to believe we can be heroic. Anti-heroes never accomplish greatness. Their lack of accomplishment and “realism” helps justify people’s laziness and lack of heroism in their own lives.

The modern world lacks beauty, virtue, and greatness. Everything is small-minded, and we want to celebrate what is mediocre at the expense of what is good.

The Intersection of Beauty and Wellness: A Holistic Approach

physical fitness

We are a culture of fakeness and laziness. We suffer from obesity, cosmetic surgery, and Instagram filters. Taking care of your physical body is a rebellion against the modern world.

So there is ugliness everywhere, but we can push back. When we seek to cultivate and promote beauty in our lives, it becomes easier to destroy and undermine the ugliness we are forced to consume by weak individuals.

Personal Health and Beauty: Male or female, being handsome or beautiful is important. Dress well, groom often, and look alert. Be presentable and approachable. Stay confident and mentally leveled. Always make sure you look your best whenever you can in your actions, dress, and environment. Through this promotion, you will grow in discipline and appreciation for yourself. We take care of what we love, and when we take care of ourselves, we show love to ourselves. And remember, people will seek to corrupt or attack you. Weak individuals do not want to see beauty around them. People will tempt you with various distractions. Nothing they offer will elevate you.

Consuming and Appreciating Classical Works: Many works, such as The Fountainhead, celebrate beauty in a way our modern works do not. Ignore the nihilistic and hedonistic crap of today. You want to reject the modern nihilistic trends in favor of timeless artistic expressions. When you find things that celebrate what is beautiful, you will be inspired to pursue the beautiful. Never fill your mental palette with ugly, deplorable works. Focus on what is good and go from there.

Supporting and Creating Beautiful Art: Many artists today create beautiful works that inspire and elevate. I work on projects such as Momma’s Old School Burgers to bring meaningful discussions about virtue and redemption to others. If you have a creative ability, consider making works. If you don’t have a creative calling, support the modern artists trying to produce beautiful art.

Concluding Thoughts: Personal Health, Beauty, and Societal Change

“If you tell a beautiful woman that she is beautiful, what have you given her? It’s no more than a fact and it has cost you nothing. But if you tell an ugly woman that she is beautiful, you offer her the great homage of corrupting the concept of beauty. To love a woman for her virtues is meaningless. She’s earned it, it’s a payment, not a gift. But to love her for her vices is a real gift, unearned and undeserved. To love her for her vices is to defile all virtue for her sake – and that is a real tribute of love, because you sacrifice your conscience, your reason, your integrity and your invaluable self-esteem.” – Ayn Rand

Unfortunately, weak individuals never see the beauty in reality. There are many ideas, people, and moments that are beautiful. Individuals and societies thrive when we focus on what is alluring and virtuous.

The mob, ruling classes, and elites will bury you in what is ugly and unattractive. Once demoralized, they will pounce and make you yet another hollowed husk for whatever movement or system they need you to prop up.

Beauty prevents such self-destruction. We are moved to improve ourselves when we see what is grand, alluring, and compelling. Only a startling vision, encouraged by what is good, can stir us to greater heights.

That is the purpose of beauty and virtue. To remind us life is meaningful and amazing.

Actionables

  1. Physical fitness – How fit are you? Could you be in better shape? Remember, we live in a culture that constantly attacks physical beauty and success, especially through movements such as “Healthy at all sizes.” If you see areas where you can improve, focus on building your physical strength so you can push back against toxic narratives.
  2. Grooming and wardrobe – How do you carry yourself? Do you constantly groom by brushing your teeth, maintaining your hair, and applying lotion to your skin? These things may seem trivial, but the more we attempt to care for our outward appearance through fashion and grooming, the better we will look and feel.
  3. Dive into the World of Art: Explore different art forms from around the globe. Visit local museums, attend cultural festivals, or join an art appreciation group. Discover how diverse cultures express beauty through their unique artistic traditions. And take note of the skill required to produce the art you see. Remember that beauty points us to virtue. Impressive art takes discipline and persistence.
  4. Unleash Your Creativity: Indulge in creative activities that resonate with you. Let your imagination run wild, whether it’s painting, writing, crafting, or playing an instrument. Remember, your goal should be mastery of the craft and creating works that elevate yourself and others.
  5. Cultivate Your Inner Virtues: Practice the 13 virtues. Focus on carrying yourself well and competently.
  6. Focus on Holistic Wellness: Prioritize your physical health through regular exercise and balanced nutrition, but don’t forget your mental well-being. Engage in stress-relieving activities like yoga, meditation, or nature walks.
  7. Learn About History and Culture: Broaden your horizons by learning about different historical periods and cultural backgrounds. Read books, watch documentaries, or attend educational events to deepen your understanding and appreciation of the world.
  8. Enhance Your Environment: Make your surroundings more beautiful and uplifting. This could be as simple as keeping your living space tidy, decorating with plants, or participating in community clean-up efforts.
  9. Foster a Positive Mindset: Seek beauty in everyday moments and cultivate gratitude. Start a gratitude journal or make it a habit to acknowledge and appreciate the small joys in life.

Reading List

  1. “The Architecture of Happiness” by Alain de Botton: This book explores the idea of beauty in architecture and how our surroundings can influence our mood and well-being. It’s a great read for understanding the relationship between our environment and our quest for happiness.
  2. “On Beauty and Being Just” by Elaine Scarry: Scarry’s book is an elegant exploration of beauty, arguing that it compels us to pay attention and urges us towards justice. It’s a philosophical treatise that ties beauty to larger concepts of justice and truth.
  3. “Beauty: A Very Short Introduction” by Roger Scruton: Part of the Very Short Introductions series by Oxford University Press, this book offers a concise yet thorough look at the concept of beauty from a philosophical standpoint. Scruton examines historical and modern attitudes towards beauty and its role in our lives.
  4. “The Invisible Dragon: Essays on Beauty” by Dave Hickey: Hickey’s collection of essays discusses the role of beauty in the art world. He challenges contemporary art’s disregard for beauty and advocates for its importance in art and society.
  5. “Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty” by Nancy Etcoff: This book delves into the science behind beauty, exploring how perceptions of beauty are rooted in our biology and evolutionary history. It’s a fascinating read for those interested in the more scientific aspects of beauty.
  6. “Beauty: The Invisible Embrace” by John O’Donohue: O’Donohue, a poet and philosopher, explores the nature of beauty and how it’s a vital aspect of life that we often overlook. His poetic prose invites readers to rediscover the beauty in both the world and within themselves.
  7. “In Praise of Shadows” by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki: In this essay, Tanizaki discusses traditional Japanese aesthetics and the beauty found in simplicity and subtlety. It offers a different perspective on beauty, emphasizing understatement and the interplay of light and shadow.
  8. “Making Faces: The Evolutionary Origins of the Human Face” by Adam Wilkins: This book explores how the human face evolved and why it plays such a crucial role in our perceptions of beauty. It’s a blend of biology, anthropology, and psychology.
  9. “Love and Beauty” by Irving Singer: Singer’s work is a comprehensive philosophical study of the concepts of love and beauty, examining their interrelation throughout history.

Please remember it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.

Refer to the linked articles and studies throughout this post for detailed evidence and case studies supporting these views.

*Image credit to Unsplash