Yes, indeed, I am going to discuss appearance—specifically, people’s appearances… and, more specifically, Armenians’ appearances, since we seem so fixated on denying ourselves.

Kim Kardashian West (Photo: Kim Kardashian West/Instagram)

There are countless adages and quips about beauty. A quick online search allowed me to select a few and add those that I remembered:

1. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.



4. Beauty is only skin deep. (But ugly goes clear through to the bone.)

5. Pretty is as pretty does.

6. There is certainly no absolute standard of beauty. That precisely is what makes its pursuit so interesting.

7. Glamour is a shooting star, it catches your eye, but fades away; beauty is the sun always brilliant day after day.

8. Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them.

9. People are more than just the way they look.

10. People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.

Many of these apply to us and our self-image.

Copious amounts of money are spent on superficial physical modifications. Why? Many seem to pursue looking like “a model” when those objects of temporary adulation are nothing but unhealthy examples of fixations on exterior “beauty”—or glamour. (see No. 1, 7, 8, and 9)

What’s worse is when the particular “look” someone aspires to have is very alien to that person, whether genetically or culturally. No doubt, we’ve all seen Armenians, especially those among us with darker-toned skin, who decide to dye their hair blond. Often, the eyebrows are neglected, resulting in a ridiculous appearance. Either way, the result is usually just this side of hideous. It looks just as absurd as bleached-hair-Japanese. Then we have the hair removal fad, and this applies mostly to our men. Again I ask, Why? I can’t help but recall learning, in my “History of the Caucasus” class, that in the 19th century Georgian women were considered very alluring because of their… “unibrow,” as its now derisively labeled (see No. 6).

Body shapes are subject to the same unnecessary modifications, too.—whether biceps, breasts, or buttocks. Why mess with how we’re shaped? If some group developed adaptations to their environment (flatlands, forests, mountains, etc.), why should some temporary, passing fascination with another group’s body shape inspire surgical intervention (see No. 6 and 9)?

When Armenians, or anyone else, engages in this kind of behavior, all we do is betray a fatuousness, an internal emptiness, a lack of self-confidence, and even self-hate (see No. 10 ).

Why adopt others’ notions of beauty, or those based on what is natural and native to other groups, rather than one’s own?

Let’s love Armenian beauty among ourselves and enjoy the beauty of others when we visit them (see No. 1 and 8).


Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.

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  1. Yes, it bothers me to see women bleaching their beautiful tresses, and following such examples as Kim Kardashian/Cher in superficial surgeries,dress and other bad behaviors. Women should build from the inside out (#4) by being kind, compassionate, serving others,virtuous, and in doing good to all men/women. Love what God gave you and be grateful for serves you well. Love is the answer to all problems. God is Love and we are each Sons and daughters of God, Royalty!!

  2. Women will stop such extreme changes to behavior when we are no longer treateed like a horse at a horsefair maarket being inspected for every minute little thing, and shamed for natural functions of time and expected to be nothing more than a domestic chore robot and arm piece trophy wife. Fatima Mernissi, eminent North African sociologist, wrote this fantastic book called “Scheherezade Goes West”. It said ” The size 6 miniskirt is the Western woman’s restriction” and how in the west, we are subject to the expectation that we will always be frozen in time and take up less space as women. That the things afforded to social power and higher social ranking in hierarchical society-age and size-that is desireable in males is denied for women. We are expected to take up less space and be compliant or young or frozen in a period of time associated with less social power ( youth).. These things and upper-class Anglo-beauty standards are globalized now world-wide, as is a certain internalized orientalism. I am not saying there is no beauty in looking like a petite Connecticut white anglosaxon protestant-I am saying there is diveristy in beauty and beauty should also be in what one does and not just what one “is” . John Berger in the classic work “The ARt of Seeing” wrote about how men do and women are. I am saying maybe we ought to see the dynamic elements of beauty and not just the ascribed static. If you do not believe me, tell me that you have never been wowed by a previously plain women taking to a dance floor doing a killer tsifeteli? Or watched someone in motion transform themself by some wonderful act? Or were all “meh” at someone sitting at a table until they got up and walked, or read a poem or gave their seat to an elderly person–*did* something?

    I refuse to judge women or men altering the bejeezus out of their appearance since it is *Very* tied to their earning capacity in a rapacious, vicious and commodified world were we are all up on the Roman auction block in the grand market of appearances.Until the structure changes that demand we do this—and some more than others—I will not judge character, only aesthetics.

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