MANILA, Philippines - Do you know that there is a connection between the face and happiness? A poem clearly says so: "The proof of happiness is in the face. We are as happy as we look; we look as happy as we live. The face is a sure evidence of grace."
The word "face" does not refer only to what lies in front of our heads. "Face" means the impact of our presence on others. The poem also reminds us that the kind of presence we exude reveals the kind of life we live. Looking well means living well. If one lives happily, he will look happy.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta's biography was aptly entitled "Something Beautiful for God" because when she was still alive, millions of people considered her "one of the most beautiful women in the world." But I suppose she never went to a beauty parlor. She never asked a cosmetic expert or fashion guru for a make-over. She never wore make-up or applied sunscreen or whitening lotion. Her face was withered and wrinkled.
But she looked beautiful because she lived beautifully. St. Thomas Aquinas defined beauty as "the splendor of order." Mother Teresa was a beautiful person because she lived a well-ordered life. She spent her life according to a fixed set of priorities which he described as follows: "God first, my neighbor second, and myself last."
Today, modern advertising has re-defined beauty. It is no longer based on a right sense of order. A beautiful person must be soaped, shampooed, deodorized, disinfected, and sprayed with synthetic odors. Buying a beauty product has become a conditio sine qua non for being beautiful.
Imagine the fantastic rituals many people go through just to appear beautiful according to advertisers' standards. Imagine the expense each product entails. Still, the product must be bought lest you find yourself outcast (Ang may B.O. hindi kasali). People milling around the cosmetic section of the supermarket appear like members of a cult who seek redemption from bad breath, dandruff, pimples, black heads, obesity, and falling hair.
The beauty cult has equated beauty with desirability. By using attractive models and actors, advertisers seduce us by mobilizing our perennial fantasy to be desirable. Thanks to advertising, beauty has become a marketable commodity. A fashion designer once remarked: "There are no ugly women, only lazy ones." This statement has become gospel truth. Many women today feel that beauty is diretly proportional to the effort one exerts to achieve it, or the money one spends to keep it.
For a change, postpone your next trip to the beauty parlor or to the cosmetic surgeon. Heed Mother Teresa's beauty tip: "If you want to look well, live well. Put order in your life, and this will certainly radiate through your face. Beauty is the splendor of order."