We can all imagine the scene–two long-time friends meet for lunch after years of not seeing each other. Naturally, they look at one another and form some type of judgment. How does the other person look? How has time treated them? Who looks better? Rarely, or more likely never, would one friend wonder, how does that person look on the inside? What does their inner beauty look like? Why is that?
Inner Beauty vs. Outer Beauty
The tension between outer and inner beauty is nothing new. It has been cultivated by a society that focuses on outward appearances and beauty standards put forth by fashion designers and the broader aesthetic industry. If we look one or two levels deeper at the concept of outer beauty, we find some interesting data points. First, the concept of beauty changes, or evolves, over both time and culture. A beautiful face defined by some as the angles of an upside down triangle may be at odds with those pleased by a rounder, more cherubic appearance. Second, regardless of the aesthetic preference, there is a commonly held belief in the linkage between outer and inner beauty. In other words, we can all relate to the adage that if we look good on the outside, we likely feel better on the inside. This last point raises, perhaps, the most important question: if we feel more beautiful on the inside, does this translate to outer beauty?
What is Inner Beauty?
Before deciding on the cause and effect between inner beauty and its outward effect, let’s define inner beauty. A fair and practical definition would be a balance between emotional and physical health. A life that has proportion—work/productivity, recreation, diet, exercise, and even a proper amount (as opposed to a complete absence ) of stress. Inner beauty means spending energy and care to concentrate and take care of your mind and body. One approach is to frame key steps to health that aid in managing various areas of inner beauty. These steps, including but not limited to detoxification and mind-body medicine, integrate various aspects of inner beauty and bridge the gap to outer beauty. In a 2015 study on body image, researchers (Tyka and Wood-Barcalow) reported that having a positive body image involves multiple elements (is multifaceted) in addition to being holistic. It can be said that your appearance will naturally be more beautiful and more appealing to others with a healthy body. Ultimately, this positive feedback loop is powerful and demonstrates that a healthy mind/body axis will do wonders for the lines and shapes that form our sense of beauty and desire.