Hollywood crowd vs. the airport crowd

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I arrived at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta a couple of years back. I always try to be earlier than is necessary and usually aim for 2 and a half to 3 hours before fight time. Normally I take something to read to pass the time but, on this day, I decided to “people watch.” Since the airport is the busiest in the world, there are a lot of people.

So, from then until we boarded, I observed all those who were passing before me. At the end of that time, I concluded based upon the observations of literally hundreds of people — maybe more. I concluded that there are really not that many “beautiful” people. Now by “beautiful people,” I mean the standard that is set by Hollywood.

If one watches American TV and American-made movies, the conclusion can be drawn that the people on the screen are the ideal people, as far as looks go. Never mind that many of these screen stars are highly enhanced with silicone, Botox, or surgery — not to mention perfect hair and make-up — and often employ chefs and trainers to help them retain their beautifulness. Or handsomeness, in the case of men.

If these people are the standard for beauty, then the vast majority of the rest of us, if my airport observations are accurate, are just plain ugly when compared to these folks. And there’s the problem. If the viewing audience thinks that they must look like these actors and actresses to be considered good-looking, then most of America is doomed to disappointment, frustration, and ever-lower levels of self-esteem.

What I did see that day were hundreds of people who looked “normal.” And by “normal” I do not mean ugly or unattractive. There were, of these hundreds of people, perhaps three or four women, and about the same number of men who sported “Hollywood good looks.” That’s it.

But nearly everybody was attractive even though they might not be mistaken for a film star. I once met a young man who had moved to the Los Angeles area from the Midwest. He was saving his money so he could go back home. His reason? He said that too many of the people he met were “plastic.” He meant they were caught up in their own attractiveness. He said, “If you don’t look like a movie star or you are not rich, you don’t count.” Whether that is true or not, I can’t say. But that was his impression.

One of the reasons that I like British television more than the American variety is that, for the most part, the people who play the roles look more like the airport crowd than they do the Hollywood crowd. In real life you don’t normally have a 23-year-old knockout with perfect hair, teeth, and body being a police detective. In real life, the detectives are older and more — well, normal looking.

On British television, those who play the parts have flaws. They are not sculpted. They might be too skinny or a bit too heavy. Their hair might be mussed up or missing altogether. Their teeth don’t look like expensive dentures, and I find that refreshing.

Hollywood sets an impossible standard for many people who think that, to be handsome or beautiful, you have to look like these actors and actresses do. But you don’t. America doesn’t look like Hollywood, America at the airport or the shopping center looks normal.

Personally, I have to guess whether men are handsome or not since I really do not know what that means to females. But I find that most all females have their own special brand of attractiveness.

It has to do with looks, to some degree, but the personality, the carriage, the confidence, the self-acceptance, the attention to the needs of others, their smile, their positive outlook on life, all add to the attractiveness of a person.

Most people have the ability to be uniquely beautiful in their own way — without trying to look like a movie star or a runway model. On the other hand, I have met incredibly beautiful people physically whose personality and attitude made them ugly clean through to the bone.

When all was said and done at the airport that day, I determined that I had seen hundreds of attractive and good-looking people. And only a very few with Hollywood looks. So, if you are Hollywood beautiful, be grateful and give thanks without flaunting what you think you have. Whatever outward beauty you possess is fleeting but the real you will be there forever. Just determine to be a beautiful person, inside and out, and even the “normal people” will appreciate you for who you are.

[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). During the pandemic, the church is open at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays but is also live streaming at www.ctk.life. He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South (www.midsouthdiocese.life) He may contacted at davidepps@ctk.life.]

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