Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Real Beauty Sketches

I saw this video this morning and I love it. I love it from the point of view of an artist, as a woman, and as a human being. Years ago I did a series of photographic portraits of people. I didn't shy away from their wrinkles or hide their imperfections nor did I focus in on them to make some sort of a statement. Rather I allowed them to be there in their own subtle ways. As I developed the pictures I really had fallen in love with them, the expressions, depth and emotion of them were so evident and beautiful.  But over and over again as I revealed the images to the subjects most of the women would cringe and stick their nose out in disgust at the sight of themselves. I was a little taken a back.

It was during this series of photographs that I realized that every human being has an intrinsic beauty to them, and I think it has to do with the fact that we are made in the image of G-d. If you truly look at people they are fearsome thing to behold. Every feature unique and like no one else, yet similar in some strange way. What I realized is that we often equate attractiveness to beauty. Not everyone is attractive to everyone. I have one friend who thinks Paris Hilton is the hottest human being on Earth and I have another friend who believes she looks like a bizarre alien. Many of my friends are attracted to Brad Pitt and though I think he is nice looking and all, I wouldn't call him 'my cup of tea'.

We also equate our beauty with the 'attractive trends' of our time and culture. When going through art history, it was like going through a history of beauty standards. At one point women would pluck their eyebrows off and would push their hairline back because a prominent forehead was seen as the most beautiful. I've seen paintings with women having large stomaches and pale skin. Even today in different cultures there are different attractive standards, dark skin, light skin, curvy, thin, etc. (Just check out eatyourkimchi if you don't believe me.)

Women are told whether directly or indirectly that men are visual people and therefore your looks matter and sometimes matter the most. Our sense of attractiveness can be confused with our beauty, that sense of beauty is then confused with our self worth and messes with our identity. When in reality we are all beautiful, sure not everyone will be attracted to you, but you aren't attracted to everyone else either. We are made in the image of G-d and that should be a our identity and that should give us our self worth. We have one life, one body, and that body was given to us as a gift and sometimes is even a temple. Instead of spending our short time on Earth nit picking everything that is wrong with it, why don't we accept the things we cannot change and embrace our differences.

All of this is something I still have yet to grasp

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