South Korean actress Go Won Hee and Indian actress Sonam Kapoor. The eye is pleased? EPA PIX

ONE is thin and tall with limbs alluringly long and smooth. On the crown lies golden forms of light and dance, and on the limbs hang precious, delectable beads.

The other one, who stands close by, is short and stocky, with limbs swarthy and seemingly rough.

Which do your eyes desire?

Answer the question, then pay attention to the two tales that follow.

In China, a vlogger who used a filter to hide her real face was “exposed” days ago.

Before this misfortune struck, she had been “worshipped” as a “cute goddess” and much money did she make.

When the filter fell apart, and the clouds were cleaved by the sun’s rays, she with the “sweet and healing voice” was revealed to be a middle-aged woman.

Qiao Biluo lost a lot of followers and funds because many were upset about her deceit and a good number were aghast about her looks. She was not beautiful enough.

Into this tale of deception shall I introduce a second story, an account of dejection. 

A desperate woman is drowning in an unhappy marriage. Her husband no longer pursues her form; his eyes are affixed on the gaiety of younger women.

She has put on much weight since the happy day they got wedded 20 years ago with winsome smiles and worthy dreams. In the present day, she despises her body as much as others denigrate her.

It takes hard work to dig deeper and find beauty. Pic by DCxt

One day she decides to end the misery by taking her own life. Then it is that three miracles unfold, rearranging the fabric of her reality. 

First, her stupendous attempts to die fail. Then she finds an incredible way to become thin and young again.

The finest magic, of course, is when she meets a man who years before knew her, liked her and  “lost” her; and now, loves her again.

But the enchantment of youth often wears off, and as a result she becomes “big” again. So the cycle continues daily.

The tale is long in the telling and deep in its thinking.

In the end, it comes down to this: will the man who once lost her continue to love her, even though she looks vastly different, even though she wears plus-size clothes?

Does he love the spirit within, or the form without?

Truth be told, the KBS drama’s run has ended, and the answer is provided. He chooses to love her, spirit within and form without, because his heart tells him to.

Alas, human beings are redeemed in film, but not in life. I submit that most, if not all, of us know and accept only one aspect of beauty.

We are unable, despite protestations and professing to the contrary, to comprehend the depth of beauty because our minds have been reshaped beyond redemption by everything and everyone. 

Is it not true? How many men, wedded for 20 years, would say to their wives, “You are beautiful”? But how many of them would say the same of the young and talented Sonam Kapoor?

How many women would say a craggy-faced and bent David Christy at 60 is beautiful?

Which brings us back to the question that begins this essay. What was your answer, pray tell?

I would wager that most folks would choose description No. 1, the one with “limbs alluringly long and smooth”.

To be sure, we are drawn to words and images that “please” us. “Beauty” must fall within the confines of these words and images, or else it is not “beauty”. Can one who is stocky and swarthy be attractive to you?

Ha ha...the fact of the matter is that in the first two paragraphs, I am merely describing the tall avocado and short jackfruit trees in Mummy’s garden on a sultry
day when the sun’s rays make everything look startlingly different.

Did I deceive you, as Qiao Biluo deceived tens of thousands of others? Perhaps I did.   Perhaps you thought I was talking about two human beings.

But it is merely to illustrate a sad point. We love what we see, but we do not truly see what we love. We choose form first and last. That is our failing.

The writer is NST production editor