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Things of the Obvious...



In recent times, I've changed my appearance in fairly major ways twice - once going from glasses to contact lenses (last July) and once going from my normal reddish-auburn-y hair to black (last week). Each time, it's been quite shocking to see myself immediately and then I've been alternately pleased and perturbed as I adjusted my mental image of myself to match the current outside state. Each time as well, some of those near and dear to me have, at least to some degree, reacted negatively. It could be as simple as "Well, I liked you with red hair..." to "Your face looks hollow without glasses".

These responses, as one might imagine, cause unpleasant feelings on my part.

And then there are the acquaintance reactions of, "Ack! You did what to your hair before my photo shoot?! I don't even recognize you anymore..." (This last was said jokingly, but to some extent, sincerely.) Again with the unpleasant feelings, both towards the commenter and about my appearance.

However, among the near-and-dear people, each time there has also been exactly one "Go, you!" response to each change. This has bolstered my spirits mightily each time (and caused feelings of deep affection to blossom further for said people). And the same with a minority of acquaintance-like folk: "You don't have glasses any more! You look fantastic!" and "Your hair looks really cute!" Again with the spirit bolstering.

But the moral is the same each time: It's a damned good thing I am reasonably happy with the change since most reactions to it are some version of, "Ack!"

So, to the nay-sayers, I say, "Thbbbbbbbbbbt!" And then I go nurture my self-image.

Comments

several_bees
Apr. 1st, 2005 04:57 am (UTC)
What about someone whose idea of attractiveness has nothing to to with how someone looks, but how someone sounds or smells? Say, perhaps, a blind person?

Then there would still be something about her that could be meaningfully altered to make her less attractive; she could start wearing horrible perfume, or stop washing, or spend five years overseas and acquire an accent they don't like, or something. The perceived beauty still isn't something that exists just because she's her; it's attached to an alterable characteristic, or a collection of them, and these alterable characteristics are just as independent of her "being her" as her hair colour is.

Subjective, sure; but "subjective" doesn't mean "fixed".

The problem is that we have come to place too much value on some strange, illogical idea of beauty that has been defined for us

Mm, okay, but it's very easy to overcompensate in the other direction, and say that beauty is meaningless, or that beauty is independent of actual physical attributes. Sure, don't consider someone attractive or unattractive just because popular opinion would suggest that they are; and yes, you probably shouldn't faff with your appearance in order to make other people, on average, like it more (unless other people's opinions are really important to you, in which case maybe that's what you'll be happier with). The fact remains that saying "you will be equally beautiful however you look", if you really mean it, equates to being indifferent to someone's appearance, and makes anything complimentary you say about it meaningless, because your opinion would be just the same if the attribute you're complimenting were different.
jalenstrix
Apr. 1st, 2005 10:51 am (UTC)
The fact remains that saying "you will be equally beautiful however you look", if you really mean it, equates to being indifferent to someone's appearance, and makes anything complimentary you say about it meaningless, because your opinion would be just the same if the attribute you're complimenting were different.

Yeah, I'm inclined to agree with this - logically-speaking, this seems quite true. Though in arielstarshadow's defense, the sentiment of "I like you no matter what" was probably the intention and the tangle with the specific instantiation of this sentiment is what's causing the fuss. But you already knew that, didn't you, sly wench that you are... [grin]

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