Most of us have probably struggled with self-confidence or self-worth issues at some point in our lives. Some people might be lucky enough to have left those days behind in junior high. But for a lot of us, the struggle is still real.
When you’re single and hoping to find that special someone, doubts and insecurities can be a bit crippling.
It doesn’t help that commercials for the biggest online dating sites show everyone else looking like they have it all together.
I was particularly struck the other day by what the new Ed Sheeran and Khalid song “Beautiful People” has to say about the so-called beautiful people who look like their lives are utterly fantastic.
I think the song makes some great points, but it stops short of a poignant truth.
People don’t really have it all together
The song “Beautiful People” begins by describing a group of LA high society people preparing to party. These are the kind of people who drive Lamborghinis and Hummers.
The chorus goes on to describe the world of these beautiful people, complete with designer clothes, champagne, and front row seats at fashion shows. It looks like these people have everything.
But then the song goes on to describe things like prenups and broken homes. It says these people are “surrounded but still alone.”
The point holds true even in less extraordinary circumstances. The people we envy, who look like they know what they’re doing so much better than we do, have their own secret problems, fears, and insecurities.
We live in a fallen world, so no matter who outwardly perfect someone’s life might appear, they’re almost certainly struggling with something.
You’re not worse off than those people you might be envying, even if you feel like you can never measure up to how put-together they seem.
Look for someone who will leave the party
Apart from describing the lives of these so-called “beautiful people,” the song also addresses the speaker’s girlfriend (or wife, it’s not clear if they’re married or not).
He tells her that the two of them don’t fit in with this crowd, and that he actually fears becoming one of these beautiful people. The lyrics say that the two of them should leave this party. He has no desire to devote himself to becoming one of these outwardly-fantastic people.
This is lovely, because it shows a couple enjoying their simple relationship without materialistic aspirations. This is a couple who is not obsessed with outward beauty or empty status. They would rather focus on loving one another than on trying to fit in with the cool crowd.
Are there really people out there like this that we can search for?
If we look at the world around us, we probably see our Instagram-obsessed peers and plenty of potential mates for us who have no intention of rising about their shallow inclinations.
But that doesn’t mean the good, authentic people aren’t out there.
It might take a bit of extra digging to find them, but try to remain optimistic and ask God to lead you to them.
Where “Beautiful People” goes wrong
As much as I do think this song has some poignant things to say about our world, I think it stops short of really getting to the heart of things.
I even checked the lyrics to make sure it didn’t get there by the end like I was hoping. But, alas, it ends saying “We are not beautiful.”
The point of this makes some sense – he and his girl are not the same as these shallow people. That part is great. But the conclusion should really be that these shallow people are not actually beautiful in the true sense, despite outward appearances.
Another reality is that the speaker and his girl are actually beautiful in the true sense, despite not looking like these people who outwardly have it all together.
The clichés and truisms we’ve maybe heard since some well-meaning parents or guardians spouted them to our awkward middle-school-aged selves are actually somewhat true.
Inner beauty is the true beauty, not mere outward appearance.
But as Catholics, we can know that there’s actually even more to it than this. Real beauty is a reflection of God.
This means that beautiful people are the ones who are most like God, who love him, reflect him, and seek to bring others to him.
All the other aspects of beauty that might seem significant in various times and places of our lives actually pale when we consider them against the true Source of all Beauty.