View from the Dragonfly’s Back

MomsGetReal Soul Feeder Chris Wilcox

I love the new trend towards “real” in advertising. Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, Cameron Russell’s vulnerable TED Talk  on being a model, Jana Jeffery’s post on body image – they all raise interesting points about what we surround ourselves with. I do question how long it will last before the ad agencies revolt and we revert to photoshopping away the imperfections. “Real” only seems to apply to models not being airbrushed, and when last I checked, models were the last people on the planet who even needed airbrushing – except for, of course, plus-sized models — size 12 skinny b*tches that they are. After all – art only imitates life, it doesn’t copy it.

The trend toward taking someone who is already beautiful and making them flawless isn’t new – in fact, it’s pretty old. 3,300 BC and Nefertiti didn’t have one damn pore on her alabaster skin. To be fair, they didn’t finish her left eye. What’s eyesight, though, when you can claim that your skin never had a zit?

Is Nefertiti somewhere thinking, “Fantastic. 3 millennia later and what does the world have of me? THAT? So much for eternal life. I’m the eternal representative of, ‘Oops.'”

How many times have you walked out of your house without your left eye, metaphorically speaking? I’ve done it.  I’ve shown up at work in mismatched shoes (not socks – entire shoes) and I’ve not just ditched putting on makeup, I’ve totally forgotten to even consider it. Of course, when I get where I’m going I typically think “Oh well,” long enough to plot a way to never leave my office for the entire day – and it usually works. Will anyone care that I don’t have on a drop of Cover Girl? Hell no.

But I will.

I’ll avert my eyes when I wash my hands in the restroom because all I will see are the dark circles and fine lines under my eyes. I will criticize how my eyelashes seem to be non-existent and that I have this one dot of an age spot high on my right cheekbone. And all that, of course, will lead to my chin, which I don’t even want to talk about, and don’t even get me started on anything below my collar bones.

Making a human inherently flawless is a collage… an art project. And women have handed over untold trillions of dollars to keep up with that project every year.  I do it every day I get dressed and go to work. I chase an ideal of What I’m Supposed to Look Like, I berate myself when I see something that doesn’t achieve the right illusion, and I bemoan my relationship to gravity.

And why? Have we done it for so long that it’s just part of our DNA?  Have we bought into some view that we’re not good enough as is? Or are we just replicating to the best of our abilities what our thoughts tell us is “acceptable”? Even though our thoughts are based on an illusion.

Do we remember Nefertiti as a powerful Egyptian Ruler, or as the pretty woman with the missing eye?