Beware the dangers of beauty

Betsy PickleOpinion

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

“Beauty is only skin deep.”

“You’re as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside.”

You’ve probably heard all these lines before. Maybe you’ve even used them. I tend to agree with the first one, while I find the second somewhat smug. As for the third, people who say that obviously haven’t watched the screen during their own colonoscopy.

(Or perhaps they have, and they’re just being brutally honest.)

For some reason, I’ve been thinking about beauty a lot lately. I keep seeing new-baby photos on Facebook, and every comment is a variation on “She’s beautiful!” I click “like” on some and “love” on others, depending on the closeness of my relationship to the parents and/or grandparents. But I rarely comment because I’m afraid I’d say what I really think, which is “All babies look the same to me.”

(Sorry, I’m not a baby person. But give me a kid who can talk back to me and I’m instantly entranced.)

And then there’s all the celebrity bashing, especially during awards season. I feel for people trying to decide what to wear on the red carpet. I certainly would not want anyone judging my figure or taste. On the other hand, when you’re at that level, you really should have wise people around you to advise you, and I don’t mean Billy Porter.

The other thing I’ve been pondering recently is the insect kingdom. I was thrilled last Wednesday when I finally heard and then saw some 17-year cicadas. And my heart skipped a beat on Friday when I spotted this season’s first firefly in my yard.

I don’t get that worked up over carpenter bees or flies or worms. Am I judging insects by their beauty? Is a butterfly superior to a moth? Which one has more value in the ecosystem?

What is it we admire about a bug that lives underground for 17 years only to emerge, have loud cicada sex and then die soon afterward?

Fireflies have always seemed magical to me. Imagine floating around with your own light source! (I struggle with turning on the flashlight in my iPhone.) I remember catching them in my hands and whispering to them when I was a kid. My conversations were very one-sided and probably not too deep: “I love you, Firefly” is as much as I recall.

I was stunned to learn yesterday that fireflies can actually be toxic to cats, dogs, birds, amphibians and lizards. A friend told of a bearded dragon that ate one and died. Seriously? A beautiful, precious firefly – a killer?

It was a sobering reminder that beauty can have a dark side. Remember that when you’re telling friends that their babies are homely – it’s really a compliment.


I will use any excuse to quote Ogden Nash, my favorite poet. You’re probably familiar with “The Fly”:

“God in his wisdom made the fly

And then forgot to tell us why.”

But Nash also shared his perspective on “The Firefly”:

“The firefly’s flame

Is something for which science has no name.

I can think of nothing eerier

Than flying around with an unidentified glow on a

person’s posterior.”

If you really want to be impressed, look up Nash’s “The Centipede.”


Today through next Tuesday (June 1-8), the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host its annual viewing of synchronous fireflies in the Elkmont area. Unfortunately, the four-day lottery for parking passes ended May 3, so it’s too late to participate in the event this year.

Mark your calendars for 2022!

Betsy Pickle is a veteran reporter and editor who occasionally likes to share her opinions with KnoxTNToday readers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *