24 February 2009

In the name of beauty

I recently read: “Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.” Um, huh??

This got me thinking about beauty, who has it, who wants it, and who just doesn't give a fuck. All forms of self-derogation shocks me. I would love to sit back for long periods and believe that I am utterly beautiful. However, my self image if constantly accompanied with my own uneasy self-surveillance.

Beauty isn’t in the eye of the beholder, but in the heart of the possessor. However, for the great majority of women, beauty, as a purely abstract quality, is something that happens to other people. In the following excerpt of a short story by Virginia Wolfe, the heroine tries on a dress:

“When she put the glass in her hand, and she looked at herself with the dress on, finished, an extraordinary bliss shot through her heart. Suffused with light, she sprang into existence. Rid of cares and wrinkles, what she dreamed of herself was here – a beautiful woman. Just for a second (she dared not look longer), there looked at her, framed in the scrolloping mahogany, a grey-white, mysteriously smiling, charming girl, the core of herself, the soul of herself…”

Feel beautiful and you will look beautiful. Beauty and appearance matter, not because of vanity but because as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, only when you have attended to the smaller details of your appearance can you ‘go to town on the charm’. Beauty does encompass every part of you: how nice it would be to feel comfortable in this appendage to the mind. Who cares if you spend the next day de-tagging catastrophic photographs on facebook?

After all, we are following the icons created by publicity managers for a public that craves new idols, rather than real beauties (if there is such a beast). If I can’t be standardized as a beauty in our period, well just forget it and have some fun.

As Helena Rubenstein said: “There are no ugly women, just lazy ones”.