Greek’s greatest myths: beauty and desire

6 mins read

Beauty and desire appear to be two of mankind’s greatest achievements.

There’s a nonsensical value to both that cannot be explained. However, every great Greek myth celebrates both enormously.

Because of that, it’s no wonder where the myth of the ‘ideal body’ stemmed from.

To have curves, to be slender, to be muscular. Women are pressured to have any body that is trending. Men are encouraged to have the body of heroes like Hercules.

Has there ever been a hero without ropey muscles? Or a maiden without wide hips and a slender waist?

Depicting men and women in this image is entirely unhealthy. It suggests that beauty is the key to success and fame, that these are the only body types that should be desired and that beauty is the only intrinsic value anyone should have.

Greek mythology has even gone as far as to suggest beauty is to die for.

By not having it, it makes you unworthy. The story of Hephaestus portrays the damaging impact of these unrealistic beauty standards. He was a god, the son of Hera and Zeus, but he was deformed. Considered ‘ugly’ and so he was thrown from Mount Olympus.

Credit: Greek-Gods-Info.com

Hephaestus was a child banished because he did not reach beauty expectations. In any art, all you see is a hunched over figure, not a skilled craftsman who created some of mythology’s greatest weapons.

He was a god unworthy of his status because of his physical appearance.

It’s unfair for everyone. It’s unfair for every story heard to be about a beautiful virgin, instead of an intelligent woman. The youths of today idolise strong warriors, and not artists and intellects nearly as much as they should.

What makes it worse is that these beauty expectations have been immortalised. Artists have sculpted figures of mythology to perfection. However, perfection is not real. It only shows beauty in its most mainstream form.

They are not real. These idealised body images are based off of gods and goddesses. It’s not healthy to expect anyone or yourself to reach mythological standards.

Credit: learnreligions.com

When you think about it, all of these images are mankind’s creation. An artist or a sculptor’s vision of beauty is not a timeless representation.

Goddesses of great power such as Athena and Aphrodite are extremely sexualised, inspiring women to achieve unrealistic proportions.

It’s because of this that Aphrodite is the epitome of the ‘female form’ and is suggested as a template for what women should seek to appear like.

Whereas, for men, any and every Greek god should be their goal. The ‘masculine body’ should be broad at the shoulders, but slender by the waist.

But men don’t need to be built from muscle to be desired, and nor should they be pressured to.

It’s dangerously unreasonable for both sexes to implement these standards. The perfect body is the real myth. Not everyone has to submit to these sexualised values to be worthy of desire.

Credit: flickr.com

Beauty itself is a broad horizon that changes through a thousand different eyes.

Having a perfect exterior is not everything. It’s only natural to have flaws, curves, or none of that. Being beautiful is something everyone can achieve.

It can be done without your body being objectified and criticised to look a specific way.

Although, some of history’s sexist trends have followed us into the future.

Beauty became a competitive sport long before we made it so. Back when Kallisteia was the fancy name for beauty pageants, they were created towards the first Olympic games, where women were judged for their appearance.

It’s not to say this is wrong, but beauty shouldn’t estimate the worth of anyone. Changing how beauty is depicted is not necessary, but inclusion for all body types is necessary to break down the idealistic bodily expectations and diversify that which is considered beautiful.

To make it that beauty itself can be achieved by everyone.

Credit: artsy.net

Nobody should be shamed for looking too different, or too much the same, as others. It should be a feeling everyone can enjoy, regardless of how you look on the outside.

And this is where Greek mythology made its mistake. By saying ‘only this is desirable!’ when it’s not true because desire can’t be one single thing. It’s a multitude of different tastes and attractions.

The Greek god’s physical appearances are undeniably beautiful, but it is not the definition of beauty.

Featured image credit: pinterest.co.uk

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Deputy Editor of Brig Newspaper. Fourth year journalism and English student at the University of Stirling. Lover of covering social issues and creator of 'The Talk' column for everyone who needs to hear it.

Deputy Editor of Brig Newspaper. Fourth year journalism and English student at the University of Stirling. Lover of covering social issues and creator of 'The Talk' column for everyone who needs to hear it.

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