On one of my regular blog reads today I was moved to tears and to the desire to share this blog post with you. Sarah Greenman writes La Maison Boheme and to describe her and her blog would be a whole post in itself. If you don't know her blog, I encourage you to discover it for yourself but here I would like to bring your attention to a particular post.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and beauty is often determined by cultural factors; we all know this. Men are not as likely to be described as beautiful, though male children may be. The language of beauty and the worship of beauty is usually reserved for children and women, which makes it a contentious feminist issue. Should we want to be beautiful? Should we try to be beautiful? Should we weep at night if we believe we are not? What if we are beautiful and it seems too much to our advantage? Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.
Did your mother ever tell you that it was more important to be beautiful on the inside? She probably did and she was right, though that wouldn't necessarily make it any easier in a world that values beauty, sells us beauty and denies our beauty all as a way to have power over us. How easy is it to simply decide you ARE beautiful and celebrate that? Or to decided that beauty is irrelevant and ignore it? As humans we are captivated by beauty in all things. We see beauty in nature, beauty in human created art, we accept imperfections and variety readily until it comes to humans and perhaps even more so, until it comes to ourselves if we are female. We have been told there is only one way to be beautiful, only one standard, only one measure. It is physical and it is elusive. Other women have it but we don't so we must strive for it, we must buy it.
Deep in our hearts we know this is total crap! But the message pushes at us daily. As an artist I am in love with faces. All faces. I see beauty in faces because I see the expression of a human being in them. I see the range of emotions that can flicker across a face. I see the life that has been lived or the promise of a life yet to come. The most beautiful faces are not found on a plastic mannequin. They are not found in a photoshopped image in a magazine, though they may offer up flawless skin and symmetrical features. Why does this blog post feature only female faces? It is not because only female faces are beautiful, but because it is mostly females who are targeted with destructive messages about what beauty is.
I cried, small soft tears leaking slowly, as I watched and listened to the speech made by Lupita Nyong'o at the Black Women in Hollywood Awards, hosted by Essence magazine, which I found on Sarah's blog, La Maison Boheme. Sarah added images of faces, a variety of female faces all of them showing us that beauty does not come from looking the same. Beauty comes in character and individuality. Beauty comes in an expression of emotion, a light in the eyes and even in a surprisingly unique feature that sets someone apart. Yes, there is good photography involved allowing these faces to look their best. But there is no deception involved, no marketing of one single type of human beauty. There is just the opportunity to observe that every tree in the forest has its own beauty. The lens of the camera represents the lens of the human eye. It shows us how to see properly. How to look and see the beauty. It may sound cliche to say we are all beautiful, but sometimes something is a cliche simply because it is true.
Go here to read Sarah's blog