There was a story written by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villenuve, published in 1740 known as Belle et La Bête; however, her 100+ page original would later be adapted, rewritten and edited down for a more family friendly audience by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. In 1992, Disney would animate and push this story into mainstream consciousness (with arguably one of the greatest duets of the time featuring Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson) later to be ruined by an awful auto tuned, live action version starring actress Emma Watson in March 2017.
(Yeah… I know there were prior films and a 1987 TV series called Beauty and the Beast with Linda Hamilton and Ron Pearlman and yeah I know they tried to remix/reboot it back in 2012…but I limit my posts to about 1000 words for a reason. )
Perhaps what makes the story somewhat relatable is that despite its fairy tailed perspective, this tale as old as time was based on a true story! Waaaay back in the 1500’s a young woman called Catherine was set up to engage in a relationship with Petrus Gonsalvus who had a condition known as Hypertrichosis, a genetic disorder that results in hair that grows all over the body.
Both Petrus and Catherine eventually came to understand that a human connection was far more powerful than a condition or diagnosis, and the two would eventually get married and go onto have seven children. You can take a deep dive into the Beauty and the Beast fable and extract your own interpretation and/or symbolism but for me the story could almost be a metaphor for mature men and their attraction to the naiveté (or dare I say innocence?) of young, attractive women. If you really want to unbutton your shirt and get personal, you could almost apply this metaphor to my own marriage.
As superficial as it is to admit, my early adult years were dedicated to attracting the attentions (of what I considered to be) beautiful women. I wasn’t blessed with the criminal good looks of Jeremy Meeks, so I had no choice but to attempt to develop something known as “character” because my self-esteem and confidence were slabs of wet clay still being moulded, sculpted and defined.
Of all the topical subjects I’ve attempted to cover via this blog my wife was perhaps most uneasy with my obnoxiously daring attempt to tackle this subject matter. Just like when Meryl Streep is asked what it is like to be considered the world’s best actress, there is a hesitant humility when acknowledging an obvious truth. According to the mainstream, superficial lens of modern society…
My wife is the beauty and I am the beast.
It’s difficult for many to believe my wife lived a radically different experience during her childhood when compared to now. She was continually bullied and looked like a stereo typical nerd of the 1980’s. Mismatched clothes, frizzy hair, thick glasses and braces, although she developed into quite the swan. Yet now, my wife objectively possesses all the physical attributes mainstream society deems attractive; tall, young, blonde and a toned body similar in proportion to a little-known artist known as Beyoncé. In fact, she has literally had men stop in their tracks to show their appreciation of genetics she had no control over.
As for me? Well…I never quite made the transition to “swan status” therefore, when out in public with my wife, I have experienced the casual stranger’s response of outright, jaw dropping disbelief (that my wife is with “a guy like me”) to more subtle, nuanced responses of fleeting confusion. When you are considered the beast in a relationship, the experience is an odd one as the average accidental acquaintance can’t quite figure it out. People assume I must be 101 on the Forbes 100 or perhaps own a magical castle with a talking candlestick, clock and teapot.
The beginning of my relationship attempts were inadequate at best. My sense of self was so non-existent I “lived to serve” the needs of the other. That is to say, my sense of self-worth came from attempting to squeeze myself into an unattainable ideal to make the other person happy; and if you’ve ever tried to fit into a pair of jeans that were too tight…you realise just how uncomfortable that can be. Using physical beauty as the main criteria for a relationship didn’t work for me.
But, at this point it’s fair to say “Are you sure Ty? Haven’t you just spent the best part of this post stating your wife is considered “beautiful” by the crazy kaleidoscope of society?”
You might have a point? However, I can tell you with great certainty her character is something that means more to me then cellulite accumulation or what gravity does to the human body over time. As authentic reality slowly creeps in, I realise the quality of a human connection beats down everything else. You don’t have to dream the impossible dream to reach the unreachable bar mainstream societal expectations have set.
I see nothing wrong with personal preference, if an individual’s relationship requirements tend to lean more into the visual, I have no issue with that. There are people who possess physical characteristics hand crafted by Gods most artistically gifted angels (Halle Berry anyone?) but within this crazy earth-bound reality, there is no human (no matter what they look like) that hasn’t struggled with self-value and self-worth. If it was just “looks” we solely based our judgements on humanity has no possible chance of survival.
In an insta world where hot bodies and reality shows like Love Island beat through the pulse of pop culture; the young and the restless would be forgiven for thinking a dip in the fountain of youth and gravity defying body parts are the perfect ingredients to achieve relationship success. But you neither need evasive surgery or gym membership to find another human being who will want to engage with you in more personable, intimate circumstances because as much as I wanted to avoid ending this post with such a universal cliché…
Beauty really does come from within.
Until next time.