Baltasar Gracian once said “A beautiful woman should break her mirror early.”

What do you think this quote means?

First, I thought the quote meant that physical beauty obviously matters for females. In the same way, being the breadwinner and providing for the family matters for males. People judge based on appearances since the reality of someone’s character is harder to figure out.

However, the mirror should be “broken” in that physical beauty is just one part of beauty. There is tremendous pressure on girls to be attractive. Magazine covers are full of bikini girls and make-up tutorials.

However, beauty in a human being is so many other virtuous traits – kindness, humility, wisdom, self-control, or patience.

Second, we should be careful not to be vain. So we shouldn’t be narcissistic – as in the Greek story where Narcissus drowns because of his pride – and “breaking” the mirror means seeing from other people’s perspectives as well. This allows us to be compassionate towards others.

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Third, once a lady is beautiful she will have to deal with the envy of other girls.

Girls around her may say something like “uggh I wish I was as pretty as you!”.

This is similar to a rich or successful person having trust issues as they deal with friends around them asking for money or constantly needing their help.

So the “breaking of mirror” is that this beautiful girl should know how to be discreet about her beauty. In the same way, a rich person should not always flaunt his wealth. The beautiful girl can do this by making sure she is down to earth and acknowledges her faults. Life is hard so we have to forgive ourselves for our mistakes since making mistakes is the only way to grow.

Lastly, she should be grateful that she is beautiful since beauty is gained by luck and winning the genetic lottery instead of hard work.

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Biography of Baltasar Gracian

Baltasar Gracian was a philosopher around the time of Spanish Civil War. His views and unique style of writing – exemplified in his development of the Conceptismo style during the Spanish Baroque period – became famous in popular Spanish culture during the warring chaos.

His most famous work the Art of Worldly Wisdom was well-quoted. It’s a book for knowing and making one’s way through the world. It’s about winning favors from friends, discovering someone’s intentions, and understanding life better.


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