beauty is only skin deep


beauty is only skin-deep


  • a phrase used to emphasize that a person’s character comes before their appearance.
  • character is what counts, not looks.
  • one’s personality is not necessarily beautiful just because they have a lovely appearance.

Beauty can be figurative. While it primarily defines human appearances, it encapsulates the idea of things—like the sky or ocean—looking in good shape, almost perfect. Beauty is also a word in popular English phrases and bears a much more profound meaning in the phrase, “Beauty is only skin deep.”

Example Sentences

  1. Jacob learned the hard way that a charming smile doesn’t guarantee a good heart—beauty is only skin-deep.
  2. She may be stunning, but remember, beauty is only skin deep; character lasts a lifetime.
  3. Don’t be fooled by appearances; beauty is only skin-deep, and true kindness runs much deeper.

Origin and History

It is believed that the proverb originated in the 16th century. The earliest known use of the phrase in prints was in “A Wife,” a 1613 poem by Sir Thomas Overbury: “All the carnall beauty of my wife, Is but skin-deep.”The notorious publication of the work led to Overbury’s murder, as the subject assumed it was about her.

It was during this time that people deeply understood and resonated with its meaning, which became a theme in Norman Whitefield and Edward Holland Jr.’s track bearing the phrase as the title.

Philosophical Implication

At face value, beauty is only skin deep and can be a vague intertwining of words with no straightforward meaning. Sir Thomas explained that we can all appreciate outward appearances since physicality always easily meets the eye. However, understanding what lies beneath, including a person’s attributes, reveals much more about the deeper layers of their physical attractiveness. It can be subjective but transient, meaning what we can all see on the surface hardly defines what someone or something is without digging much deeper into their character.

Beauty is only skin deep. It is a saying or phrase that carries a much more profound meaning than it appears at face value. It has permeated cultures and centuries and has had an enduring presence in pop culture and literature. While this phrase and saying may be somewhat challenging to interpret at face value, its philosophical meaning carries much more depth, which is why it’ll always have a deeper root that resonates with people in the contemporary world.

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