On the Nature of Beauty, or “Yes, you’re a pretty girl!”

Dobby with LeashWe’re so conditioned in our culture to judge others based on their beauty. But we misunderstand what beauty is, or where it lies. I think many people mistake “pretty,” which is a physical description based on some Darwinian ideal arrangement of features, with “beautiful,” which is more of an essence, a quality that pleases and delights those who experience it. Encountering prettiness doesn’t move people; encountering beauty does.

Beauty is strength, power, and goodness. Prettiness is a superficial layer of physical attributes.

Bella and DobbyWe have two dogs, Bella and Dobby.

Bella, as her name implies, is physically a very pretty dog (we didn’t name her). She has large soulful eyes, a small pert nose, and, though a chihuahua, is perfectly proportioned like a little miniature German Shepherd. She is sweet, intensely loyal and devoted to me, and a bit suspicious of others due to early life mistreatment. (They’re both shelter dogs.)

Dobby, who we did name, looks, well, like Dobby. Like, they could have used her ears as the models for Dobby in the movies (Dobby of Harry Potter fame). DobbyAnd rather like her namesake, she is not pretty. She has these googley eyes, ridiculous ears, and, being part chihuahua and part dachshund, seems to have acquired the least pleasing combination of the two animals.
Her body is long and her legs are short, but not in the slim graceful way of dachshunds; her nose is long and bumps oddly; she’s just all over stocky and ridiculous.  But also like her namesake, she is loving, and loyal, and friendly (she loves everyone she meets).

Dobby Awaiting Delicious FoodShe sleeps next to you, and if you move for a bit of space, she just follows along and snuggles right back up. She will literally give you kisses non-stop if you let her. When she senses food coming, she licks her lips over and over in anticipation of the deliciousness to come.

Bella is pretty. Dobby is not. But they are both beautiful. We only have so much control over how pretty we are. But we can all be beautiful.

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