We are not obsessed by beauty but we are very attracted to what we perceive as beautiful. I first realised this forceably when watching a programme about Madagascar and the lemurs and the different status of lemurs amongst the local population. There came on screen a black lemur that was a little ugly in the face and my mothers aid ‘ I bet they don’t like that one’, and sure enough the narrator explained that this lemur was seen as bad luck.
This natural antipathy towards things that we perceive as ugly is not wholly irrational as some things we are attracted too – most notably plants – are actually dangerous so instinct sometimes has to play a part in our survival even now. But the transference of this instinct to cover everything that is not beautiful to our eyes gives handsome people unfair advantages and ugly people unnecessary pain.
I suppose it is too much to hope that the aura of beauty and wealth vanish from the human psyche and people use their reason, just as I suppose peoples could treat all nature with respect and not just the fluffy, licky bits. Sadly though I think our instincts are too strong for us and in as far as we are today in the West, prone to listening to Hollywood stars more than philosophers and going for the telegenic more than the wise, we do ourselves a disservice.
Beauty though was a lovely little pony mum named on the moors nearh ere two years ago. See, even I succumb!