Thursday, 6 November 2014


This is Moscow's Kristina Pimenova, described as the "most beautiful girl in the world." As of today at the tender age of 6, Kristina has appeared on the cover of Vogue Bambini and has already had fashion collaborations with designer brands like Roberto Cavalli and Benetton. You can see more of her pictures at

Beauty is, to put it squarely, an enthralling subject. There is no line that captures the power of beauty as succinctly as that of Faustus in Christopher Marlowe's 1604 play, Doctor Faustus: "Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships, / And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?" (Act V, Scene I.) Chuck Palahniuk also attests to this as he wrote in Invisible Monsters, "It's all mirror, mirror on the wall because beauty is power the same way money is power the same way a gun is power." Beauty is powerful because historically, traditionally, and conventionally, beauty is scarce. To borrow another great quote from H. L. Dietrich, beauty is endowed upon those who have it because it's a destiny that's "decided by a cosmic roll of the dice". Beauty is something you're born with. Beauty is a gift. Beauty is a privilege of the lucky few who have it. Some people indeed see this as a matter of life being unfair. But that's how it is because if life is fair and the qualities that we value are no longer scarce because everyone is entitled to their share of them, then they will no longer be valuable.

This is happening in our world today though. Cosmetic products are increasingly available and sophisticated. People are becoming more and more adept at manipulating beauty. And if that's not enough, surgery can change everything. This shift in the perception and value of beauty is monumental, because beauty now becomes a commodity like many other common goods. Beauty is no longer given the due respect it has garnered in the past. If you weren't born beautiful, you had to find another place and role in society that you could be content with. To be fair, there are historical stories of people so envious of the beauty of their rivals that they kill. But there are also countless other stories of people who accept their lot and focus on other qualities that they have. The most degrading aspect of this modern change against beauty is that people are feeling increasingly entitled to beauty. With the vast number of people in the world today who have cosmetically enhanced their looks (certainly at a standard much higher than people in the past could), beauty's power and sacred place in the world is undermined.

Life isn't fair, maybe. But that's how life is. Perhaps with god-given aspects such as structural poverty, redistributive justice can go a long way to help those dealt with a bad hand in life. But with god-given beauty, life is fair in its unfairness, and rightly so, and our obsession to right this "wrong" has sadly turned beauty into something so ugly today.

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