The Perception of Beauty and Beastliness
“In your eyes, I perceive… both the look of a beauty and the look of a beast. Be mindful not to bring about your own end, my dear!” So says the Chrono Cross fortune teller to Kid, my favorite character in one of my favorite games. I thought about this quote every time after that when I felt myself be perceived as a hideous thing, or when I felt myself being perceived as something beautiful to the point of specialness.
I’ve been on both sides of being perceived as beautiful and being perceived as not beautiful. Growing up I overheard more conversations about it being too bad that I didn’t look more like my sister than I can recount. A few years later, when I was getting paid for my looks, internet trolls strung me up for suppose ably not knowing how to do anything but get by on beauty. When I talk about beauty, I have to talk about perception, because I know that perception is the key factor. Nothing about me suddenly and drastically changed. Perception changed. I left the pond where people had already decided to see me a certain way.
Perception and presentation is something that can largely be manipulated at will. I can go out as either the girl who gets hit on, or the girl whose friend gets hit on. As Jenna Marbles demonstrates, most of the triggers that tell people to respond to beauty are not inherent. They are things that can be worn and painted on. To quote Homer Simpson, “Its funny because it’s true!”
Sometime after I really accepted the realization that beauty isn’t overall that special of a thing, because it is so easily manipulated, and so dependent on perception, I wondered if the ability to control how people perceived me was my most interesting talent. I didn’t really hope that it was, but at the time I hadn’t been given money for many other talent. (Late night Denny’s waitress.. cocktail waitress/bartender.. booth babe.. print model.. all of these jobs are versions of selling perception). I don’t think that anymore. I think its my own perception, of the world outside that gives me something to say. I position my perception to see beauty and interest in details of life.. the objects people carry, the people who don’t know I’m watching, the processes of the things we do and make. I want to save the glimpses of things so that other people can see them. It seems vain to say that I don’t think other people see it the way that I can.. but if everyone could see what I see, then no one would give me an odd look when I look across a bar room and say I wish that I could have cameras in my eyes so that I could take pictures without altering what is happening.
I’ve been thinking a lot about why I keep coming back to blogging, and why anyone should care. I think that I do like blogs that are aspirational in a way (its just hard to find blogs that champion things I actually aspire to, but that should be another blog..). I think that most style/lifestyle bloggers blog in part because they are evangelizing for the kind of life that they think is worthwhile. I perceive unmanicured things to be beautiful, and I think that is worth evangelizing.
(This train of thought partially triggered by Busy Darling’s post http://busydarling.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/the-problem-with-being-perfect/ .)