Att det är insidan som räknas och att yta och skönhet inte alls spelar någon roll är det nog få som tror på. I radioprogrammet Bob Hansson om livet – skönhet genetikens diktatur, skamfyllt eller inkluderande? i Sveriges Radio P1, diskuterar Bob Hansson och hans gäster begreppet skönhet ur olika aspekter.

Det står snabbt klart att skönhet både kan vara en tillgång och ett hinder – både närvaron och frånvaron av skönhet definierar mycket av våra liv, vare sig vi vill det eller inte.

Programmet som sändes den 26 december 2022 finns att lyssna på i sin helhet här.

Att skönhet är en faktor att räkna med i mänskligt samspel blir man även varse vid läsning av boken Lillie Langtry: Manners, Masks and Morals av Laura Beatty (1999).

Biografin berättar om Lillie Langtry som befann sig i den engelska societén samtidigt som Oscar Wilde. Genom sin skönhet vann hon snabbt stort inflytande i de fina salongerna, omgiven av såväl skandaler och skvaller som beundrare. Däribland Oscar Wilde som tog henne till sig, hon blev hans skyddsling.

Lillie Langtry beskriver här sina första intryck av Oscar Wilde:

”She had not forgotten her first meeting with him two  years before. ‘Vividly’, she recounts in the memoirs, ‘I recall the first meeting with Oscar Wilde in the studio of Frank Miles, and how astonished I was at his strange appearance.’

Now, again, she saw “… a profusion of brown hair, brushed back from his forehead, and worn rather longer than was conventional. … His face large and so colourless that a few pale freckles of good size were oddly conspicuous. He had a well-shaped mouth, with somewhat coarse lips and greenish-hued teeth. The plainness of his face, however, was redeemed by the splendour of his great, eager eyes.

In height he was about six feet, and broad in proportion. His hands were large and indolent, with pointed fingers and perfectly-shaped filbert nails …

The nails, I regretfully record, rarely receiving the attention they deserved. To me he was always grotesque in appearance … That he possessed a remarkably fascinating and compelling personality, and what in an actor would be termed wonderful ‘stage presence’, is beyond question, and there was about him an enthusiasm singularly captivating. He had one of the most alluring voices that I have ever listened to, round and soft, and full of variety and expression, and the cleverness of his remarks received added value from his manner of delivering them.” “ (s. 135)

Langtry och Wilde kom att utveckla en djup vänskap (eller rentav kärlek?) som sträckte sig bortom yta och skönhet. När de båda drabbades av skandaler och illvilligt skvaller fann de samhörighet och styrka i varandra:

” [Wilde] was absolutely necessary to her in the limbo of her lost self and fading popularity. If she did not tell him so, it was only because she did not realize it herself. In contrast, Wilde was only too aware of how much he depended on Lillie. His fears of loss stemmed from needs that were artistic as well as emotional. Lillie was his self-professed religion, a fertile source of inspiration for his poetry as much as for the development of his aesthetics.” (s. 142)