At my high school, the cafeteria and gymnasium walls always seemed to be made of cinderblock. I imagine deep grooves, like the grooves in a cinderblock wall, cut into the backs of wallflowers everywhere. I write to suggest that the grooves are illusory.
I find some people more beautiful than others, but much of the time, I don't find the people beautiful that the media makers suggest I should find beautiful. Some celebrities, by contrast, I find extraordinarily beautiful. I don't think that the way to "fix" the problem with the superficiality of appearance obsession is to exterminate beauty in some 60s feminist dialectic way.
I believe that looks become an obsession. Physical attraction becomes an obession. I do not want to minimize the wonders of the physical life. But I cannot help but feel that beauty is about more than finding superficially eligible inamoratas.
I like to think about life as neither needing to be puritanical nor obsessed with one marketed mode of "stylish beauty". I love to secede from this media-saturated way of seeing the world as "those who look good" and "those who do not", and live in a world in which magazines do not dictate what I find beautiful in life.
Of course, "life" is one darn big construct, and the real story is about how I will choose to live mine. I think I want to choose a world in which I don't feel cheated by things that don't matter. I'm an ordinary person, by the standards of this world. I don't "rate" in any sweepstakes, any of the various LJ "am I hot" communities would place me in the "not" category. I remember that old game "Mystery Date", when the object of the game was to open a front door and determine that one either had a "dream date" or a "dud". I always liked one of the duds on the commercial, whom I imagined had come from a busy day at the auto repair shop, and who was a bit overweight, no doubt from eating home-made German food his mother cooked.
I think that when life is marketed to convince people to buy products, one key ingredient is the sense of lack. One lacks a Snickers bar, and needs to buy it. Hollywood is more subtle. One is neither Uma Thurman nor Ethan Hawke, so one should buy more escapist film tickets. I like what little the media tells me about Ms. Thurman and Mr. Hawke. But do they truly live superior lives because they are "beautiful"? I don't think so.
Currency--it's all about currency. Money is a currency. Looks are a currency. Power is the best currency. While I am all for looks, money, and power in appropriate moderation, the sheer "acquisitiveness" of it all bothers me sometimes. So, I secede.
I secede from a world in which a magazine about a musician requires me to wade through pages of product ads interspersed with twentysomething shapely women. I secede from a world in which product commercials feature characters from movies. I secede from a world in some matter, and some do not. Indeed, the world I wish to live in is a world in which, as Ford Madox Ford put it, Some Do Not indeed. Some don't buy the gaudy new times, but instead clings to what matters.
I'd like to reclaim beauty for smiles, and hackberry butterflies in April, and Brian Eno holding forth on the glorious beauty of accidental music making. I don't want us all to join hands and sing "everything is beautiful,in its own way", but I do want to make my judgments based on my experience, and not based on Channel 8, people magazine, and large label recording artists.
I'd like to break through the negativity which both commercial culture and counterculture impose upon beauty. I want to make beauty less of a platitude,and more of an appreciation. I'm not sure how to do it, yet, but I"m sure I want to try.