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Everyone has his own mask — writer shares ideas on beauty

Category: Phantom of the Opera News
Article Date: April 3, 2006 | Publication: The Pine Log Online | Author: Brittony Lund

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In the classic movie, “Phantom of the Opera” starring Gerard Butler as the Phantom and Emmy Rossum as Christine, the Phantom wears a mask to hide his hideous deformities and is forced to live in hiding from the world or deal with the screams of terror people would respond with at seeing him. Yet, in order for us to love his character and feel any pity for him, they had to get one of the hottest Scottish actors to play him. Even with his scarred face, the Phantom is a beautiful man. His scar appears more like a burn mark on one side of his face than any kind of terrifying deformity. He could have been made to look far more repulsive, and if he had, I think it would have portrayed his character so much better. But Hollywood knows better than almost anyone that people don’t like to see ugliness. We like to see beauty, and this is a good thing, but I think that we have taken it too far in America.

Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia have become more and more common, especially among high school and college girls, although not limited to them. Jokes are constantly made about models and actresses who appear very skinny that they either don’t eat at all or throw it up afterwards. Mary Kate Olsen got help for her eating disorder, but how many girls don’t? How many girls continue to destroy their bodies in the name of beauty until they end up either very sick and in the hospital or sometimes even dead? Drugs and alcohol addictions along with eating disorders are so accepted among college students that most don’t even think about it at all when they walk past a group of people smoking and smell marijuana in the air or see an 18-year-old girl throwing up or passed out after drinking way too much at a party. There is a difference between trying to be healthy and destroying your body in order to be considered beautiful or cool by others.

Why? What makes us want to be beautiful and go to such drastic lengths to be considered beautiful? Is it because we want to get or keep a man? While it is true that guys want a beautiful woman, in the end both the guy and the girl are going to be old and wrinkly and not pretty to look at all. What lasts is the friendship and the spiritual connection the two have and their love for each other. If all that guy cares about is beauty, he’s not worth it anyway.

Are we in competition with each other? This is just plain stupid. Some girls are naturally gorgeous, some girls have to work at it a bit and some are just plain. Every girl has certain qualities that make her beautiful and certain qualities that aren’t so beautiful. We all have things we wish we could change about our looks, but instead of tearing each other down I wonder what would happen if we all encouraged each other and helped each other become more beautiful. Or better yet, helped each other to get past the whole outer beauty issue and focus on becoming compassionate women.

Is it to please ourselves and gain confidence? This actually isn’t a bad reason to focus on our looks. However, sometimes outer beauty is not all that matters. I have known many people who, if you simply look at their yearbook picture, seem very ugly, but as soon as you meet them, they come alive to you. I wondered for a long time what kind of magic that was until I realized that it wasn’t their outer beauty I was focusing on, but their inner beauty that was so strong it overflowed to make them beautiful on the outside as well. On the other side of that are those people who seem gorgeous, but as soon as you meet them it doesn’t matter how nice they may look because you can’t stand being around them for more than 10 seconds.

At the end of “The Phantom of the Opera,” the Phantom tells Christine that she doesn’t love him only because of his deformity, but she responds by telling him his face doesn’t bother her at all anymore, but his soul is deformed, and she cannot love him because of this. Perhaps this is the reason celebrities like Hugh Grant, who is very handsome, end up sinking to sleeping with prostitutes. If we let our souls become too ugly then no amount of outer beauty will be able to make up for this and we’ll find it very hard to find anyone who will love us.

Brittony Lund is a journalism junior from Magnolia.


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