The Beauty of Imperfection: Wabi-Sabi

In the 21st century, physical beauty is high valued. Whether your look at magazines, television commercials, or social media, the praise of physical beauty and perfect can be found. Even when watch the Olympics, it is evident that only the performances that are very close to perfect are valued and awarded.

The Western ideal of beauty usually salutes things that are perfect, pretty, lasting, or spectacular.

However, in Japan, the concept of “Wabi-sabi” is gaining popularity. This concept is a refreshing view on the idea what is considered “beautiful” or “flawless”.

[Wabi-sabi] is a beauty of all things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is the beauty of things modest and humble. It is the beauty of things unconventional.

Ironically, Wabi-sabi finds beauty in things that are normally considered “imperfect” or “aged”. This idea stems from Taoism and Zen Buddhism and is actually followed by the majority of people without them even knowing. Think about that one old rocking chair that you haven’t given away yet because of the rich history that it holds. What about the woman with cancer who has no hair but still finds positivity in her life? The list goes on and on. All of these things are beautiful but do not fit the definition of perfection.

If our society implemented the concept of Wabi-sabi, we would most likely decrease the growing body-image epidemic. Through Wabi-sabi, people will be able to find the beauty in their “imperfect body types” and focus more on the inside instead of their outside appearance.

An experience of beauty can also usher us into an amplified appreciation of the divine presence, that “something more” in our existence. Yes, God’s handiwork is evident in the glorious vistas of nature and the beautiful people and things that literally take our breath away. But God is also evident in and through the imperfect, the humble, the modest, and the unconventional. Indeed, these things may be the most accessible samples of divine grace.

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