Deeper Than Skin
A stranger just suggested I find a “real nice photographer” because the images on my wall don’t do me “justice.” Listen: This person doesn’t understand the implications of his words, nor does he understand the culture that’s taught him women are most valued for their beauty; a woman that isn’t showcasing that always is actually doing self- harm. He meant to encourage me to display my physical appearance with confidence, to “share it,” when actually he’s saying I’ve fallen short of the standards he has for me. Which is a shame because if only I met them I might have more… attention? money? career heights?
Thankfully, a comment like this feels woefully out of date. It clarifies for me how many of us (including myself, on many levels) are completely unaware of the culture of consumption that creates these types of thoughts in the first place, let alone the sense of entitlement to share them with a complete stranger. Haven’t we yet learned that it’s ridiculous to suggest the most important attribute a woman holds is her beauty? And that it’s equally egregious to submit that if she doesn’t highlight that to the fullest extent, she’s missing an opportunity to be VALUED? According to this comment, to do myself “justice” —- in other words, to perform as well as one is able to (in life? as an actress? a woman?) requires leaning into the most conventional and commercially accepted ideas of beauty that I can squeeze into, and also purports that’s what I want people to most value about me. Forget everything else. Best to curate (censor) myself. Best to find a photographer who can light me perfectly. Hide the rest away, unfit for my wall. Unfit for consumption.
Also: Seems there’s never a moment wherein women are allowed to rest the standards of beauty to which we’re often forced to ascribe in order to be “successful” in life. If I can’t go through a day without make up now, during a pandemic, when life has been fully and utterly disrupted, then when?
Some of these were taken by real nice photographers, some were not. But in all of them I feel completely human, raw… and yes, beautiful, which goes, as we know, so much deeper than skin. ❤️