The woman in the photo was working as an information specialist at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Dàyàn Tǎ – 大雁塔) in Xi’an, China. She fielded questions from tourists, most of whom were fellow Chinese.
I could make the hackneyed remark that the photo doesn’t do her beauty justice. However, a more meaningful testimony to her beauty can be found by looking at the blurred faces of the men in the background of the photo. Almost every man who passed by was mesmerized by her. She was elegant and delicately beautiful.
The totality of her aesthetic appeal involved more than the smooth, perfect complexion of her face, went beyond her perfectly manicured eyebrows, exceeded the shape and subtle coloring of her lips, surpassed the allure of her dark and glossy eyes, and concerned not only the bun of raven-colored hair set tightly behind ears which were themselves miraculous works of art. Her beauty extended to the perfect tilt of her baret, the impeccable fit of her matching yellow jacket, and the appearance of her delicate, bare arms held calmly at her sides.
Yet, beauty extends beyond mere beauty. There can be meaning in beauty. Beauty can compel us to ponder things, to look inward, to reflect on ourselves and the world at large. On a day gray with air pollution, this young woman’s pale yellow uniform and unblemished complexion was a vivid beacon of purity, a clean pastel amid a mass of travelers wading though a world made dirty through progress gained too quickly and too cheaply.