I hold that it is none of my business what people think of me.
(Many thanks to the lovely Shea MacLeod for her post “The Conversation” this morning, which led to the inspiration for this blog post.)
This is the old avi I used when I first started blogging. I like this picture of myself. I don’t know why. I’m not wearing any fancy clothes. I don’t think I even have any makeup on. It was taken by the camera on my laptop one night when I finally decided to put a face to my online presence. I snapped the pic, tweaked it so you didn’t notice my messy kitchen so much, then put it up for the world.
Looking at that picture now, I think I like it because it captures a lot of my personality. I’m not a stunning classical beauty; I never have been, and I never will be. I could list all the physical attributes I don’t like, but that seems needlessly narcissistic. Why on earth should you be interested in that? I could also list a lot of the things that I like about my appearance, but that would be just as pointless. To tell the truth, the cultivation of my outer beauty has never been a personal quest for me. People can have their own opinions about that. I’m opting out.
That said, The Conversation about women’s bodies and appearance, the hypersexualization of all aspects of our personhood, and the relentless focus on our outer appearance as an indicator of our worth is something that must be talked about. It must be talked about because I heard a ten-year-old girl I love talk about dieting so she wasn’t so fat. It must be talked about because my sisters have to sift through reams of overly mature clothing for my lovely and vibrant young nieces. It must be talked about, because I am a woman and a mother, and I don’t want my son to grow up in a world where it is acceptable to measure women (or anyone, really) by one standard of impossible, synthetic, media-ascribed beauty.
It is not acceptable.
My new book, which comes out in May, has a lot to say about beauty, because it is set in the art world. I find it fascinating to look at beauty from an artist’s perspective. It’s often very different than what the mass media portrays. Here’s a quote from one of the characters in the novel:
“I have no interest in taking a picture of the same nose sculpted by the same surgeon on five different actresses. It’s boring and more than a little insulting, if you think about it. Like they know better than we do what beauty is.”
Do they know better? The Conversation needs to occur so that real beauty, in all its variations and intricacies, can be celebrated. Beauty matters. But beauty—real beauty—is far more complex than a picture. It is has far more depth, and breadth, and longevity than morning talk shows or magazines would have you believe.
So take a look at the op-ed by actress, Ashley Judd, that started The Conversation for me:
“The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted.”
Read the rest HERE. Then, as Shea said in her post, if you think that this conversation is worth having, spread the message yourself.
Thanks for reading,