Once upon a time, not so long ago, beauty was the greatest accomplishment – the only accomplishment! – for women. Their survival was dependent on being passed from their fathers to their husbands for income, for shelter, for life. In 1974, women still needed a husband’s signature to open a credit line, so may we be conscious of the fact that these are not ancient, archaic issues, realities of far-gone, lesser times.

Being objectively beautiful, better than other women, is something that’s so deeply ingrained in our psyches, and it’s only now being rendered obsolete as we (thankfully) change the way we determine “worth.”

The need to be beautiful, the obsession, the compulsion, the overwhelming desire, is rooted in survival, laced with instinct, compounded by consumerism, and associated most with the cosmetics counter.

And so there is a tension, and a disconnect, for the great truth we are subsequently neglecting. So long as we cultivate how we appear, how consumable we are, how admired, how loved, we remain existing, focused and present… only on the surface.

Beauty is very real, and it has little to do with how our molecules configure. There is a fascinating, calming, consuming rawness, an unmistakable humanness to someone connected with their genuine self. Someone so ignited by the light they know is theirs, they radiate it out. These are the people on which you often see lovers gazing bleary and doe-eyed, enamored and unconditional in their appreciation of them. It’s never because they were the most attractive person in the room. It’s because they emit a frequency someone who is like them can feel, and understand.

How we cheapen beauty, by saying it’s only the litheness of a limb or proportion of a feature. All that we miss out on, by foregoing everything we could be in pursuit of everything other people think we are. Even the most ‘accomplished’ in being physically beautiful have done nothing more than make themselves resemble someone else.

So here are 40 great minds on beauty, bodies, womanhood, love, attraction and worth. May it remind you that you are not only what others perceive you to be, and inspire you with the knowledge that your body is not your art… it is your paintbrush.

1. “It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.” ― Leo Tolstoy

2.“I’ve found that the men worth fucking are far more good-natured about the female body in its varied forms than is generally acknowledged. ‘Naked and smiling’ is one male friend’s only (physical) requirement for a lover.’”― Cheryl Strayed

3. “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

5.“That’s always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they’re pretty. It’s like picking your breakfast cereals based on color instead of taste.”― John Green

6. “She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul. She is beautiful.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

7. “Remember that there are two kinds of beauty: one of the soul and the other of the body. That of the soul displays its radiance in intelligence, in chastity, in good conduct, in generosity, and in good breeding, and all these qualities may exist in an ugly man. And when we focus our attention upon that beauty, not upon the physical, love generally arises with great violence and intensity. I am well aware that I am not handsome, but I also know that I am not deformed, and it is enough for a man of worth not to be a monster for him to be dearly loved, provided he has those spiritual endowments I have spoken of.”― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

8. “People make such a big deal about looks, but after a while, when you know someone, you don’t even notice anymore…”― Alex Flinn

9. “Our lives are mere flashes of light in an infinitely empty universe. In 12 years of education the most important lesson I have learned is that what we see as “normal” living is truly a travesty of our potential. In a society so governed by superficiality, appearances, and petty economics, dreams are more real than anything anything in the “real world”. Refuse normalcy. Beauty is everywhere, love is endless, and joy bleeds from our everyday existence. Embrace it. I love all of you, all my friends, family, and community. I am ceaselessly grateful from the bottom of my heart for everyone. The only thing I can ask of you is to stay free of materialism. Remember that every day contains a universe of potential; exhaust it. Live and love so immensely that when death comes there is nothing left for him to take. Wealth is love, music, sports, learning, family and freedom. Above all, stay gold.” ― Dominic Owen Mallary

10.“The most beautiful women I have known had one thing in common apart from beauty: humility. It’s a shame that those with less to boast about do it the most.” ― Donna Lynn Hope

11.“Beauty appears when something is completely and absolutely and openly itself.”― Deena Metzger

12.“A mismatched outfit, a slightly defective denture, an exquisite mediocrity of the soul-those are the details that make a woman real, alive. The women you see on posters or in fashion magazines-the ones all the women try to imitate nowadays-how can they be attractive? They have no reality of their own; they’re just the sum of a set of abstract rules. They aren’t born of human bodies; they hatch ready-made from the computers.”― Milan Kundera

13.“A cultural fixation on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty but an obsession about female obedience.”― Naomi Wolf

14.“Beauty doesn’t matter because in the end, we all lose our looks and all we have is our heart.” ― Ann Curry

15.“Beauty is not a need but an ecstasy. It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth, but rather a heart inflamed and a soul enchanted. It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear, but rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears. It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a win attached to a claw, but rather a garden forever in bloom and a flock of angels forever in flight. Beauty is life when life unveils her holy face. But you are life and you are the veil. Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in the mirror. But you are eternity and you are the mirror.”― Khalil Gibran

16.“The ugliest thing in the world is a beautiful woman without the brains or courage to know that [beauty] is nothing more than an accident.”― Charlie Fletcher

17.“When I was your age… I wish I’d known that I already had everything I needed within myself to be happy, instead of looking for happiness at beauty counters.”― Ilene Beckerman

18.“What was beauty unless you intended to use it, like a hammer, or a key? It was just something for other people to use and admire, or envy, despise. To nail their dreams onto like a picture hanger on a blank wall. And so many girls saying, use me, dream me.”― Janet Fitch

19.“A beautiful woman should break her mirror early.”― Balthasar Gracian

20.“The beauty myth of the present is more insidious than any mystique of femininity yet: A century ago, Nora slammed the door of the doll’s house; a generation ago, women turned their backs on the consumer heaven of the isolated multi-applianced home; but where women are trapped today, there is no door to slam. The contemporary ravages of the beauty backlash are destroying women physically and depleting us psychologically. If we are to free ourselves from the dead weight that has once again been made out of femaleness, it is not ballots or lobbyists or placards that women will need first; it is a new way to see.”― Naomi Wolf

21.“When you are truly stunning, gorgeous and beautiful, you won’t have to prove that to anyone visually.”― Alexandra Elle

22.“But maybe you see beauty in me because you are beautiful, not because I am.”― Amy Harmon

23.“What is true about music is true about life: that beauty reveals everything because it expresses nothing.”― Mandy Slade

24.“I am not my body. My body is nothing without me.”― Tom Stoppard

25.“If it ever occurs to people to value the honour of the mind equally with the honour of the body, we shall get a social revolution of a quite unparalleled sort.”― Dorothy L. Sayers

26.“Bodies have their own light which they consume to live: they burn, they are not lit from the outside.”― Egon Schiele

27.“Our bodies are changing every second. Yet we take the body to be our Self; and, speaking in terms of it, we say, “I am hungry” or “I am lame;” “I am black” or “I am white.” These are all just the conditions of the body. We touch the truth when we say, ‘My body aches,’ implying the body belongs to us and that therefore we are not that.”― Swami Satchidananda

28.“Beauty is the virtue of the body as virtue is the beauty of the soul”― Ralph Waldo Emerson

29.“Physical excellence does not of itself produce a good mind and character: on the other hand, excellence of mind and character will make the best of the physique it is given.”― Plato

30.“There’s an apt expression: ‘If you don’t live in your body, where are you going to live?’ But many of us don’t. We tend to get locked into our heads or our imaginations… recognizing the importance of the body is primary. It’s who we are, it’s where we live, it housesand embodies that mind and imagination.”― Bill Connington

31.“When we fulfill any need of the human body, it gives us pleasure. To breathe gives us much pleasure.”― Miguel Ruiz

32. “A person’s mind can find to see only his outer image in the mirror, his heart can see the inner part of his life’s beauty, but his soul can see the whole structure of his character enshrined in his body.” ― Anuj Somany

33. “The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.”― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

34.“A beautiful woman is a beautiful woman, but a beautiful woman with a brain is an absolutely lethal combination.”― Prabal Gurung

35.“There is nothing more attractive than confidence, once she sees her own beauty, everyone else will.”― Habeeb Akande

36.“Look, whenever I hear or read I’m beautiful, I simply don’t understand it … I’m certainly not beautiful in any conventional way. I didn’t make my career on beauty.”― Audrey Hepburn

37.“The most pleasant and alluring curve on a woman is the smile.”― Treasure Stitches

38.“When you judge a woman by her appearance, it doesn’t define her, it defines you.”― Steve Maraboli

39.“Some of the greatest poetry is revealing to the reader the beauty in something that was so simple you had taken it for granted.”― Neil deGrasse Tyson

40.“I have found, beauty is the illumination of the mind…”― John Geddes

Article Credit: Thought Catalog by: Brianna Wiest