Beauty is only skin deep.
I avoid seeing really hot girls. Maybe this is why I don’t watch TV- the overabundance of glamour and beauty really makes me depressed. Whenever I see a model or a celebrity, I try really hard to peel her skin off with my mind; I try to strip away the ideological and the conceptual layer of her being and deal with her in the pre-lingual/biological abstract. I try to think of her as a bundle of neurons, sweat glands, bone marrow and hair. I visualize her DNA and gastric acid; I analyze the inner workings of her organs and the way she defecates. I focus on her various odors, the plaque between her teeth, and the colonies of bacteria on her skin.
Human beings are only skin deep, and underneath the most beautiful super model, there lays a monster comprised of wet clumps of organs, tubes, hunks of bloody meat, lifeless electric impulses, and other repulsive and disgusting dead matter. Despite how we might look on the outside, most of our physical properties and composition are not very attractive. If God made man in the image of himself, did he also make our INSIDES in the image of Him? One comfortable notion that comes out of this concept and image is that the unattractive and repulsive insides that we all share make us more alike, more heterogeneous, and equal than we otherwise would. If you flip both my below average-looking ex-girlfriend and Britney Spears inside out and place them next to each other, I doubt you would be able to tell the difference between the two. When you consider what most parts of our physical bodies look and feel like, there is a sense of serenity and comfort inknowing that we really are not that much different from each other. Unfortunately, this sense of reassurance is embedded within the hideous and revolting side of our very own nature.
Indeed, our skin is the only organ that holds us together, just barely and scarcely preventing the hideous monsters that reside within us from breaking out of their thin shells. Compare the thickness and overall breadth of our skin to the rest of our bodies that lies underneath. The skin is thin and miniature in comparison. To me, there is a sense of insecurity in knowing that immediately beneath this feeble layer of tissues and cells, there lays wet muscle, distorted arteries and other disgusting organs that make up the majority of who we are as physical beings. Even our thoughts, seemingly so divine, abstract, beautiful and creative are governed by electric impulses and grey matter – simply wet and slimy meat. So when a girl loves me, is she merely in love with my skin and meat? Is that it?
Whenever I date a girl, I’m always be fearful of two things. First, I would be afraid that my skin would fail on me, break down, and the monster that it barely holds would come out and devour, both physically and psychologically, the girl who I am desperately trying to look good for and impress. Secondly, whenever I find a girl attractive, I usually fall for her mind, but the mind is nothing more than the brain. If I am so in love with the beautiful and lovely words she utters the eloquent poems and letters that she composes, should I also be in love with the ultimate source of such beauty and eloquence?
Our beauty is literally only skin deep. But, in perspective, the sense of beauty and satisfaction that we derive from our outside is only illusionary. If you look at the skin under a microscope, you will be shocked at how unaesthetic and repugnant it is. I apologize for taking away your last hope for beauty. Indeed, even the only barrier concealing the hideous monster within us is itself a source of discomfort and disgust when examined upon closer inspection.
If you still don’t find human beings disgusting, let me try to convince you of our monstrosity by mentioning our origins. Remember how Frankenstein was created? His body was sewn up from pieces of flesh and skin of other dead bodies. But was the way he was created any different from the way we were created? Frankenstein is a magnification of our bodies and minds, in a metaphorical sense that point to our very own nature and who we really are. Think of how WE were created and you would come to the conclusion that we are also made up of dead stuff.
The notion of our sentient beings would cease to seem so glamorous if we remind ourselves that the source of our conscious bodies originate from various unaesthetic and dead material. First, there is the sperm and the egg, which is not only extrinsically unattractive, but is intrinsically made up of senseless and mindless organic material. Then there’s the food that your mother ingested and digested to feed you during pregnancy. It’s nothe onthing but dead matter converted into muscle, brain, bones, and organs. What stitches us together is comprised of what was once dead – animal corpses, excrement, and bits and pieces of inorganic matter like dead stars and the primeval soup that is shattered, spread out, and left over by the violent explosion of the Big Bang.
Atoms and particles that reside in our bodies once held residence in the bodies of all sorts of different objects and organisms: When a body dies, worms eat the body, chickens eat the worm, and we would in turn, eat the chickens. So life (as we know it) is not very appealing when examined from the perspective of its origins. We all have our beginnings in materials taken from a host of other repulsive objects. The forces that bring these parts together to form our bodies, consciousness, and, eventually, human beings are nothing but contingent and accidental ones. From this perspective, life is made from the dead, with dead matter swimming and swirling into each other in a meaningless void that is DEAD and LIFELESS.
Ok, let’s zoom out a little bit and focus on our external properties. Forget about the organs, the brain, and all of their origins. You can’t SEE them on a day-to-day basis (unless you are a medical student or a doctor); focus on what you can directly observe. But can you end our sense of anxiety simply by forgetting about the skin that we so heavily depend upon? I don’t think so. Our physical appeals, if they do exist, are fragile and unreliable. Even the most attractive of us feel insecure, anxious, and self-conscious about our appearances from time to time.
Everyone is imperfect in some way. Even if you are not seriously deformed, you worry about what your mate will think of you in the morning, right when your messy self wakes up from a temporary death. You worry about your bad breath, whether your gel is wearing off, and, for girls, whether your makeup is smeared or ruined by external factors beyond your control. The shape of your nose, the sizes of your eyes and ears, the size of your muscles are all exposed and open to criticism, despite the fact that they seem to look acceptable when you checked yourself out in the mirror this morning.
I am going to end with sex here, because I think it is the most monstrous of all human acts and interactions.
Sex I think, reveals the most beastly and debased side of us. It is an act that consists of blood, odor, violent penetration, frenzied movements, disturbing psychology, exchange of body fluid, potential spread of disease, unsettling noises, and even death. We must reveal some of our most ugly body parts to the very partners who we desperately try to impress. The imperfections of our bodies that are hidden so well underneath clothes and makeup are as completely exposed during sex. Despite the eroticism of our sexual organs, they are, in any other context, ugly, smelly, and anything but attractive.
We also need to reveal our most primal and debased psychological and emotional side to our partners during sex. The moaning, the way we breathe, the wet and slimy sounds that the vagina makes while it is being violated and penetrated, and the eerie and unsettling “slapping” sounds made by the impact of ferocious humping: all of that would seem downright depraved or sickening in a non-sexual context. It is amazing that our psyches and our minds can filter these monstrous elements out of the erotic picture to allow us to enjoy sex despite its imperfections.
But sometimes our security system breaks down. During sex, we find ourselves thinking, from time to time, “What the fuck am I doing? Who is this monster that I am humping and why is it making such weird noises? NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE! Why am I relentlessly and repetitively making such absurd back and forth movements? Those are moments when the real penetrates the symbolic; the barriers of language, ideology, illusions, and concepts break down, exposing the good old monstrous sides of our humanity.