Is it shallow to care how one looks in the eyes of others? Is it a sign of some psychological weakness?
The problem is in the question itself. The action, or intention itself - is neither good nor bad - it depends on the wider context of an individual's psychology.
Some use good looks as a way to achieve "social stature" which they use as a replacement for self esteem. If you've ever wondered about the frantic way some people try to sell their life as a success story of a top model on social sites like Facebook, the above, in my opinion, is the reason.
However there are those who take pleasure openly in being aesthetically valued and enjoyed by others.
For them being appreciated for their looks, dressing up in the morning to welcome a world worth showing one's beauty to - is a pursuit of a rational value.
The appearance of a human being can communicate beauty which can not be found in nature and not in the most sensational sunset: It is beauty of character.
A proud way of standing, a hidden smile ready to bloom for the right occasion are a sight to enjoy for every man with a positive feeling about people and life.
A physical beauty to match a beautiful character reflects spiritual perfection in physical form and integrates them (as I will explain later in more detail). This integration between the spiritual and the physical is a cognitive need that comes from the nature of our mind as holding knowledge abstractly.
In what way can we "see" nobility, or pride? Only in physical, material, tangible things like facial expressions, body language and - body structure and facial features.
Spirituality has no visibility except through the material.
You can see this need to express spiritual perfection through physical perfection in art, where heroes have perfect proportions in addition to the right body language and expression. [See example]
Not every element in one's physical appearance reflects on one's character. If one is tough and truthful, it will reflect in one's habitual way of holding one's facial muscles. If one is proud and confident, it will show in one's manner of standing and walking. Obesity, in many cases, is an expression of psychological stress. But something like a 90-60-90 figure vs. a 80-70-90 figure (less feminine looking) reflects no spiritual trait.
It still remains, however, that physical beauty, even of the kind that does not reflect traits of character, creates an integration of the spiritual and physical in the viewer's mind, as can be seen in art.
Appreciation, in general, from others one appreciates is a rational value, even a psychological need. If one considers oneself worthy of appreciation then getting that appreciation from others is a tremendous value and pleasure.
The human mind is a powerful thing, when others are logical; their opinions mirror our own understanding of reality.
Self-esteem is a deep psychological need and a value one cannot live without. When our own recognition of our worth and achievements is reflected to us by others, we experience heightened awareness of the reality of our own value, which is very pleasurable.
Allowing others to enjoy one's physical beauty compliments that need (for people of self-esteem).
Consider the wonderful things physical beauty allows us to celebrate:
The romantic atmosphere of a date in which both look phenomenal (especially the woman) is largely due to the declaration that beauty is a great way to celebrate and enhance finding each other valuable.
When a woman takes special care to dress up for a date she is implicitly communicating to her partner that she sees him as a value and because of that getting his appreciation and enjoyment from her looks is a value to her - something she is willing to put the time into.
Investing in one's look on every day basis is a way to celebrate a world in which one is worthy of being seen and enjoyed by others. It is a reflection of seeing the world as good - as a place inhabited by good people (perhaps not all, or even many - but it at least expresses the recognition that some exist).
Notice that when one views the world as bad and people as evil one looses the desire to look good (I am talking about a rational person here, not about those who want to look good to win a competition with their friends).
Ever wondered why some women like shopping so much? Here is why: A piece of clothing that compliments one's figure and matches a certain event or atmosphere allows one to experience how one would like to be seen, evaluated and experienced by someone else in a certain occasion.
Clothes are like a piece of a fantasy, half real, stored in one's closet for future use. Women take pleasure in storing such fantasies in their closet because that makes the fantasies half real - a promise for an enjoyable future.
For example, buying a dress that emphasizes a woman's feminine features holds the romantic fantasy of a magical evening out with someone she admires. An elegant looking suit is a way to celebrate one's image as a good worker, appreciated as such by others, and so on.
The same is true for men, but more so for women because in romantic relationships women are the ones being pursued (although, this is another topic which I will leave for another time).
And in conclusion, take Will Smith's words on the value of good looks:
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