Mirror, mirror….

Zeuxis chosing models - FA Vincent

A long, long time ago, in a place much more sunny and breezy than this, a beautiful woman was ready for marriage. Because of her beauty, her father was somewhat concerned about the number of potential suitors, and the potential trouble all the competition may cause. Because of this, the father made the suitors all promise to defend whatever marriage would result. Hesitantly they agreed. In order to win, one bachelor promised to sacrifice to the gods, but after he won, he quickly forgot his promise, and incurred the wrath of an angry god of beauty.
Venus of Urbino - Titian
Meanwhile, a young lad from a far-off country was growing in wisdom. He spent his time raising cattle, but because of his wisdom, was chosen by the gods to settle a dispute. Three of the godesses couldn’t decide who was the most beautiful among them, so they turned to the young man for judgment. To spice up the battle, they each promised the young man something if she was chosen. One of them, the goddess of beauty, offered him the most beautiful woman in the world – the young girl, who by this time was already married…
To make a long story short, the young man wooed away the beautiful girl (either seductively or forcibly), and by so doing, set in motion an enormous army, that would eventually come and kill the young man and destroy his hometown.
Yes, this young woman had a “face that launched a thousand ships” – Helen of Troy.
There are many take-home messages from this tale, but my question for today is simple. If Helen was so beautiful, what did she look like? What does “beauty” look like? Over the ages, numerous artists have tackled this question, which gives us insight into what they thought was beautiful.
At the top of this post is a painting from FA Vincent, showing Zeuxis chosing models for a painting of Helen. He couldn’t find any one woman for the part, so instead he chose 5 women from the surrounding area, in order to make a composite picture of their features. We’ll be talking more about composites in the time to come.
For now, let’s just explore what ideas people have had about beauty over time. Back in the day, when Greeks were the ones creating the images, Helen may have looked like this:
Helen and Menelaus
In the 1600’s, as political tensions brewed between Spain, France, and the Holy See, Guido Reni composed this picture of Helen’s departure.
Departure of Helen - G Reni
In the 1776, an American painter living in England (working for George III) painted a soft version of Helen, also with political undertones, as seen here:
Helen brought to Paris - B West
Contrast these with Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s depiction done in 1863, as shown here:
Helen of Troy - DG Rossetti
To provide even further contrast, consider more recent versions. The first is from a recent movie:
Diane Kruger - Helen
But this next one may help you see even more that every society (and individuals within that society) tends to put their own interpretation on beauty:
Abduction of Helen - Erika Meriaux
As you can see, beauty means different things to different people. Its definition can change with time and place. So what do we make of that? How does someone try to be “beautiful?”
True beauty need not follow a fad or trend. Rather, more lasting beauty adheres to a sense of symmetry and proportion. A plastic surgeon with a keen eye for that proportion can 1) educate you about what options are best for you, and 2) help you realize that beauty within yourself. One of my life’s greatest joys comes from helping people achieve not just a new look, but an understanding of their personal beauty and worth. Care to join me on the journey?


Welcome to beauty, art, and medicine – a blog by Dr. Jared Nimtz of the Waldman Schantz Plastic Surgery Center!

Cue the intro music….

Every six weeks or so, I go to get my hair cut.  Now, I’m not an expert on hair cutting or hairstyles.  I do know what I like, and what I think looks nice, but how to achieve the look I want is more difficult.  Many people approach plastic surgery in a similar way.  Consider the mother who faces deflated breasts, who just wants “them to look perky again.”  The older gentleman who wants to “comfortably fit into clothes.”  A lady who wants to “look younger and more refreshed.”  Even the younger woman who wants larger breasts may not fully appreciate the variety of choices available.

The internet has done much to advance the interest people have in plastic surgery.  Whether information comes from people offering their surgical stories, or surgeons offering advice, or even celebrity bloggers offering plastic surgery watches, the reader is left wondering what they should trust, and how they should go about reaching their cosmetic goals.

In starting this blog, I hope to accomplish several things.  I want it to introduce people to reliable information to plan their future consultations, but I also want to expand the readers’ understanding of what beauty is, and how to achieve it.  To accomplish this I’ll be discussing art, science, and nature in ways you may not have previously considered.

This blog will by no means sidestep the standard consultation process that should precede any medical or surgical procedure.  If you find something here that interests you, please make an appointment and come see me and the rest of the Waldman Schantz Plastic Surgery team.   The location is new and elegant, and the quality of care is exceptional.