Can Technology Be Biased? This Beauty Contest Reveals How Much

 

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Before I start, allow me to thank you all for your super interesting comments on last week’s post.   I love hearing and learning from all of you!

And now for our regularly scheduled program…:)

For about a year I’ve come across a few stories about beauty contests being judged by robots, that is Artificial Intelligence.   By measuring people’s (let’s face it, women’s) facial structures these robots can accurately determine beauty.  And given the judges are robots versus actual humans, we assume that the judgements are devoid of cultural or ethnic biases.  I’ve read these stories with mild interest.  But this time, a recent story stuck with me…and not in a good way.

I’m sure such a contest raises a whole host of issues for many of you.  First, I imagine many of you oppose such contests — humans or no humans as judges.  How can one judge beauty anyway?  Second, so much of physical beauty emanates from within.  I’m not talking about inner beauty.  That’s a whole other subject.  I’m talking about the energy, the light, the passion that springs forth from someone making then either more or less beautiful.  Can a robot really judge that?

But those issues aside, my biggest concern with this contest is what is conveys about technology as a whole.  The results of these contests showed how actually, how terribly biased A.I. can be!

According to this article in NextWeb, the contest drew over 6,000 applications from across 100 countries. And despite the obvious diversity of beauty that the robots were exposed to, out of the 44 winners, only a few were Asian, one was black, and the rest were white.  None had dark skin.

WTF!

Are the foolproof “complex algorithms” that biased?  I’m afraid so.  How can that be?  Easy.  A human being has designed them that way.  And that’s pretty scary.

I’m not saying the engineers behind the algorithms intentionally developed them to be pro white.  It’s just that bias is going to inevitable when the majority of the brilliant brains behind the development of technology are of a certain gender, ethnic background or culture.  No matter how much we try to rid ourselves of our biases, it’s super, super hard to erase the ones we don’t even know we have.

If technology can be biased when it comes to beauty, could it also be biased when it comes to truly understanding the user and what s/he needs?  Or can it be biased with regards to places on the map or particular destinations?  You get the point.

So what do we do?  It’s not a new news that we should push harder for diversity our work places.  It makes for diversity of thought and ideas.  But it goes deeper than that.  Diversity ensures that the seemingly “judge-free,” non-biased technologies we create actually hold up to that expectation.  When humans are led by their biases, we forgive them.  Because, well, it’s “human” not to be perfect.  But technology shouldn’t make mistakes, right?  It can’t be biased.  So if technology, or in this case A.I., declares someone fit or beautiful or smart, well then it must be so!    And the result?  People deem the seemingly unbiased robots as arbiters of truth.

I’m not the first person to call for more diversity.  It’s a MUST.  But I’m also calling on all of us to challenge our notions of how “smart” our technology really is.  Believe me, I LOVE technology.  I’m benefiting from it in all aspects of my life, and, most, importantly in my job.  But let’s realize that behind all technology are human beings.  This recognition should mostly strike a sense of admiration in human kind. After all it takes a buttload of brilliance to be creating the amazing technology we have, and will have in the coming years.  But it should also open our eyes to that fact that technology isn’t fool proof, totally unbiased or “right” all the time.

Let’s remember, human beings are the smartest, most elegant and beautiful “machines” that exist.  We are complex, emotional and gorgeous in so many diverse ways.  We don’t need a technology-driven beauty contest to prove that.

Sexism, Searches & SEO: Time for a RESET

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This is a screen grab from my good friend and creative partner, Rudi Anggono’s, phone. He sent it to me the same night I announced the relaunch of my site via last week’s post. His email message to me, entitled “bias,” was the following:

I was googling your new site but halfway typing, check out the screen grab. “Husband” before “speaker”. We have to do something about this.

This is not the first time someone has mentioned this to me. I usually just crack up. You see, my husband is the LEAST likely to indulge in social media. The last thing he wants is to have any sort of presence online (unlike me, of course 😉 lol).

But Rudi has a point. And I love him for caring. You see Google search results reflect the popularity of a search term. That is, the more searched a term, the higher up on the search list it will appear. So, the fact that “abigail posner husband” appears before “abigail posner speaker” means more people are searching for information about my love life than they are about my speaking. Hmmmm.

I have to confess, there’s a part of me which is kinda flattered. Someone is intrigued enough to want to know about my love life? But, really, I’m just buying into the same sexism that Rudi is pointing to.

No matter how evolved we are, we STILL think it’s ok to demean women by focusing on their femininity, appearance or love lives over their accomplishments.

A few months ago BuzzFeed came out with the story, “If The Media Wrote About Theresa May’s Husband The Way They Write About Samantha Cameron,” perfectly highlighting this point. The article spoofs the inordinate amount of time media focuses on political figures’ wives, and their attire. The article gives examples with pictures and video clips of Phillip May accompanied by headlines such as: “Philip May shows off his tiny waist in a navy blue two-piece,” or “Phillip May shows off his adventurous side. with a light blue tie for another day at the Conservative Party Conference,” or “And maybe they’ll just wax lyrical about his trendsetting way but remind him he’s so much more than a sharp suit.”  No question the story is hilarious, but kinda sad too.

And here’s a less entertaining example.  Again, I give credit to Rudi for enlightening me about this one. The Washington Post published an article about the amazing victory of Olympiad Hungarian swimmer, Katinka Hosszu.  But the focus of the article wasn’t her win but rather the major faux pas by NBC telecaster Dan Hicks as he credited her coach-husband with the victory.  At the same time, the news media kept displaying images of her “cute” husband and Twitter was alight with tweets but all about HIM! Katinka can’t win…well, at least not in the media.

If you want the media to focus on your own beauty, fashion or romantic accomplishments, great! I have no problem with that.  After all, I love beauty and fashion. And who doesn’t love romance!? But if you’re someone who doesn’t want to be defined FIRST by that, today’s culture — along with my search results — is showing we may have a challenge.

But there’s hope.  Because what this last example of Katinka also shows that WE — the public — can voice our opinion about our culture’s screwy values.  Twitter lit up like bon fire after Hicks’s comment with angry tweets, like:

“Hosszu smashes the world record in the 400 IM. Camera pans up to her husband. Dan Hick:”There’s the man responsible!” Unbelievable”

Whether it’s by posting view via Twitter or spending more time searching in Google about people’s substance versus their relationship status or latest outfit, we can actually push for change. The very channels we criticize for reinforcing these values, are also the ones that bring them to light and can be the source for change.

I’m glad people are interested in my husband. He’s an amazing man and has had a tremendous impact on my life. But he’s first person to see me for who I am — a mother, a thinker, a Googler, a blogger, and friend, not for who I’m married to. I hope you all feel the same :).

Freckles, Tech & Mother’s Day: What Do They All Share?

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What do Mother’s Day, freckles and tech have in common?

I recently came across an interesting new beauty trend in JWT Intelligence Report’s 100 Trends to Watch for 2016.  It isn’t the latest lipstick color or Korean skin care craze, rather it’s freckles.  Well, not just freckles but what they represent.  Photographer Brock Embank, who recently exhibited his work on beards at London’s Somerset House, will now be exhibiting his artwork around freckles.  And, if that’s not enough, freckles got some major love on the runway shows, and some brands have recently created products to help us draw freckles on our bodies.

Why does this matter?  For years dermatologists, skin care brands and the media have done their utmost to help us rid ourselves of these spots.  After all, they are blemishes right?  Or maybe not.  Maybe what we are saying is that they represent our individuality.  And THAT is what makes us beautiful.

Thanks to social media like Tumblr  and Pinterest we are celebrating these differences more than ever.  Look at Embracing Our Differences  or my friend and beauty guru, Michelle Phan‘s, appeal for people to “embrace their flaws.”

What in the world does this have to do with Mother’s Day?  EVERYTHING!  We love our moms so much because they are our own, unique moms…no one can replace them.  And our moms love us because we too are totally amazing and irreplaceable individuals.   This extends to our beauty too!  No one thinks our individual beauty is as beautiful as our moms do.  And vice versa.  We think our moms are the most beautiful women in the world!

Thanks to changing societal norms and technology, we can embrace our individual beauty more than ever.  But let’s remember that it’s our moms who have ALWAYS embraced our individual beauty.  Let’s thank her for that.  And let’s also remind her how we think they are the most beautiful women in the world.

Happy Mother’s Day (and birthday to me too! :))

Are We Hard-Wired to Be Attracted to the Beauty of Our Elders?

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Is it me or are we finally looking at our elder beauties in a new light?  Every where I look I feel like people are starting to pay attention to the beauty of the older women and men in our society in a different, progressive and admirable way.  Or perhaps it’s because my birthday is coming up that I look at aging with a fresh eye.  Whatever the reason, I feel like we are finally starting to see aging beauty for all the glamour, wisdom and experience it offers.

First, I was struck by the amazing comments I received in one of my recent Linkedin posts: Age and Decay: A Twist on What We Actually Crave.  The fact that we instinctively need to experience the aging process in others is what makes vinyl records, dilapidated buildings and older women so beautiful.  And then I came across a scientific study claiming that women don’t want beauty companies to offer them “anti-aging” products, but rather products that make them look and feel awesome as they are now. (Science Daily)  Finally, when I came across this story in Los Angeles Racked: “Fashion and Beauty Secerets form L.A’s Most Stylish Older Women,” I knew I must be on to something.  The article shares images of gorgeous older women, strutting their stuff, donning eclectic outfits, and displaying amazing hair and make-up (see pics above & below).  And what’s even cooler about them?  They are all active members of society — working in film, non-for-profits or even modeling!

But why try to stay beautiful?  For younger people it promises a mate and eventual propagation of the species.  But who needs it as we age?

But maybe there’s another way to think about people’s beauty.  Beauty — both inner and outer (frankly, I can’t separate the two) forces us to take notice.  It mesmerizes us.  It stops us in our tracks and draws like a magnet.  Nature has hard-wired us to react this way.  For the youth it may have one reason for it’s existence, but for others, another.  By admiring and being attracted to an older person’s beauty we can’t help but learn their stories, adopt some of their joie de vivre and hopefully take on their desire to keep building in this world vs let it all go and wait for the end to come.  When we see it in the best possible light, beauty’s allure can help us learn something, build for a better future, and see the opportunities before us.  We need the beauty of youth AND the beauty of old age.

Nature has made us beautiful creatures at EVERY stage so that we all strive to build a better world — whether that means more babies, more equality, better forms of entertainment, more happiness — and the list goes on.  Let’s hope I can adopt some of this lesson for myself as the big day rolls around :).



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Beautiful Rebellion: When Media Breaks Down the Walls of Segregation

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The media, especially advertising, is often criticized for our warped expectations of beauty. There is no doubt about it: photoshopping, highly sexualized portraits and impossibly thin models, create unrealistic — even harmful — visions of the ideal. We just love to lambast the media, and I get it.

But then there are those instances when advertising becomes a source of progress. It challenges the status quo and pushes us to demand a better way. Even in the world of beauty.

Take the recent campaign by Shea Moisture, “Break the Walls.”  Shea Moisture is a line of skin and haircare products primarily for people of color. This ad, and the accompanying YouTube film, shed light on the segregation of “ethnic” beauty products to the a small portion of the beauty aisle.  As the spot points out, there the a beauty aisle for white people, and there is the ethnic aisle for everyone else.  The implication: white people are beautiful, others are, well, “ethnic,” i.e., not beautiful.  The hell with that!  The video dramatically shows the aisles blowing up as a metaphor for breaking our assumptions about what beauty is. It’s great!

As someone who grew up in the world of advertising, I see both sides.  I realize that we, in media, can present unrealistic worlds of exceedingly happy families, the glory of wealth and prestige, or flawless beauties.  But, I still believe that there are, and bear witness to, those times when advertising can raise our awareness to society’s ills a suggest a better way.  When I worked in the ad industry, believe me, all we wanted to create was something meaningful, no matter how idealistic our clients were. Given my years at DDB, I still can’t help but quote Bill Bernbach who said:

“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.”

For any of us who create media in some shape or form, let’s always strive to lift our world to a higher level.  And for those of us who merely engage with it (all of us, actually), let’s not just view it with a disdainful eye but fully embrace and applaud those advertisers and media makers who help lift it for us.

What do Lady Gaga, the start of spring and your bodies have in common?  So much.

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If you were like so many of us who witnessed Lady Gaga’s amazing Oscar performance of “Til It Happens to You,” you were moved.  The song is amazing, but it’s her passion and power that make it so riveting.

I later learned one of the reasons this song affected her so much was that she, like the people she sings about, was sexually abused.  In an article about her story, she explains how the trauma of the abuse lasted for years and manifested itself in her body.  She was in chronic pain for years.

The idea that feelings and memories can bury themselves in our bodies may sound a little “hocus pocus” for some of us.  And I get it.  Aren’t feelings all manufactured in our brain?  Where do our bodies fit into this?

Well they do.  And I, myself, have spent that past year starting to explore my own feelings via my body.  I’m fortunate enough to have an executive coach who employs some techniques of Somatic Experiencing.  What is S.E.?  Wikipedia defines it this way:

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a form of therapy aimed at relieving and resolving the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical trauma-related health problems by focusing on the client’s perceived body sensations (or somatic experiences).

Psychology Today further explains: “When any part of this normal cycle (cycling between alertness and stress) is interrupted, the charge of energy gets ‘stuck’ in our bodies. We can then fail to fluctuate easily between states of different intensity. And the charge stuck in our systems will likely be triggered when in the future we encounter events, people, or things that remind us of the earlier experience that was never completed.”

Fortunately I am not suffering from major stress like that of Lady Gaga.  But my coach and I still feel the techniques could help me be more aware of how my body is holding emotions that are preventing me from experiencing happiness and progress.

I’m not writing this story to compel you all to try out Somatic Experiencing.  Rather, I’m continually struck by the strong connection between our emotions and our bodies.  Our bodies are not just vessels or shells.  They shouldn’t be ignored unless we’re hungry or cold, nor should they be turned into the only reflection of we are.  

Are bodies are ARE us.  We are intimately connected to them. And so we must nourish, care for and connect with our bodies as much as possible.  And certainly when we experience trauma — both physical and emotional, we can’t will away the pain, we have to face it in mind and body.

Spring has sprung and it’s a time for new beginnings.  It’s also a time when we are more physical again.  Let’s celebrate this time by re-connecting with, listening to and caring for our whole selves — mind, soul AND body.  

 

“The inevitable dissatisfaction with one’s own appearance is the engine not only of philosophy but of civil society at large.” Andy Martin. SXSW, Satre & Scissors: Getting Prepped for SXSW Reflects the Basis of Philosophy

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I’m in SXSW now but before my trip, I knew I had to clean up my act before my panel. I don’t mean I had to behave like a responsible adult (the totally wrong move in Austin :)).  No, I had to get beautified.

When it comes to getting my hair cut, I push it off as long as possible. I just can’t commit the time. But when I do, I enter into a state of euphoria as soon as I plunk myself down in the stylist’s chair.  This is especially true when I’m at getting styled by my good friend, and beauty expert to stars and tech gurus alike, Gad Cohen.

Hair transformations have been even more top of mind for me thanks to this week’s episode of American Crime Story: The People Vs. O.J Simpson.  Poor Marcia Clark (played superbly by Sarah Paulson) undergoes a hair redo in order to be better liked in the courtroom. The look on her face as she’s about to get shorn totally looked like mine: gleeful excited and full of happiness.  Thank goodness, my result did not resemble her’s on the show! Oy.

Why do so many of us love this type transformative experience? Is because we all need a change? Actually it goes FAR deeper than that.

This question reminds me of a post a wrote a few year back in response to a pretty heady article in the NY Times, The Phenomenology of Ugly called Philosophy: A Bi-Product of Ugliness.  In the Times piece, writer, Andy Martin, realizes (while getting a haircut) that our recognition of our ugliness (in other word the need for physical improvement) is the basis of philosophy. We believe that the world, like ourselves, can be improved.

Here’s an excerpt from my post:

Is vanity vapid or virtuous?  Andy Martin certainly makes a case for the latter.  As you can imagine from the title of his article, the piece was a bit esoteric (lots of references to Sartre and Camus, with a bit of Britney Spears mixed in). But what I got out of it was quite interesting.

In essence, he writes that analyzing your beauty (or lack of it in his case due to a very bad haircut) can have great consequences. That is, by virtue of recognizing that an aspect of your appearance can be improved, let’s say a bad hairdo or big zit cropping up on your chin, you realize that improvement is within reach in other aspects of life.  Says Martin, “that original, self-conscious, slightly despairing glance in the mirror (together with, “Is this is?” or “Is that all there is?”) is a great enabler because it compels us to seek improvement …The inevitable dissatisfaction with one’s own appearance is the engine not only of philosophy but of civil society at large.”

If the knowledge that we have some power over our looks empowers us to change other aspects of our lives for the better, maybe a dose of vanity is what we all need!

I certainly walked away empowered from my amazing transformation experience thanks to Gad.  I feel like I can conquer the crazy networking in Austin and, especially, my stage event on Monday.  But knowing that any kind of change — even just a few inches chopped off and colored — can be the spark to even greater societal movement, gets me all goose-bumpy.

If you’re in Austin, come to our panel!  But if you’re not, then go get a haircut :).

As one of the world’s ugliest problems, could beauty be part of the answer?

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In this week of heightened awareness of violence against women (first with the win of A Girl in the River: The Price for Forgiveness at the Oscars and second thanks to the march against violence by the UN Women for Peace), it seems an odd time to chat about beauty.  It amazes me — no, downright depresses me — that violence against women is so rampant.

The topic of beauty seems so frivolous in comparison to issues of violence.  Some even argue that the social pressures around beauty are a form of violence — think anorexia, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and general low self-esteem.  Oh, yeah, and you could claim that the pressure to be beautiful is a way for ensure women’s subservience to men.

But hang on there.

No question a focus on beauty can lead us down some dangerous paths.  But it can also be a form of expression, rebellion and pride. From Afros and long beards in the 60’s to goth make-up in the 90’s, clothing, make-up and other things of beauty, have been powerful signals of revolt.  I’ve written about this a number of times in Beautyskew over the years.

In one instance, Disturbing But Awesome, I highlighted how a famous beauty blogger, Lauren Luke, urged women to fight against domestic abuse by NOT covering up their scars with heavy make-up.  She uses the extremely popular medium of beauty-how-to videos to implore women to stand up against their abusers.  It is extremely powerful.

In another post, Clothing is Power, I referenced a story about a woman who wears her high heels as sign that she CAN.  This is the story told by Jasvinder Sanghera, who founded Karma Nirvana in Great Britain to help victims of forced marriages and honor-based violence.  In an interview with 48 Hours, she tells of a women who escaped after two years of being held captive by her family for rebelling against their traditional ways, and not marrying the man chosen for her.  When Jasvinder met her for the first time after her escape, this girl was determined to express her freedom via her attire…no matter the weather or circumstances.

As I referenced in this same post, this story reminded of my college studies about Iran (a course that propelled me to study Anthropology throughout the rest of my college career). We learned how westernized, highly-educated women were forced into subservient, second-class roles in society after the revolution.  No surprise they were forced to wear the chador (black veil) as a way to further limit their mobility (physical, social, educational, etc).  And yet, women found little ways to rebel. How?  They would wear the chador in a manner that would appear as if it were “accidentally” pushed back on their heads. Or they would sew tiny silver threads into their chador that only a few could see up close.

Lastly, our sexuality and attractiveness should be celebrated not downplayed! Why? In “Look at My Ugly Face!“, Sara Halprin, psychologist, author, and documentary film-maker explains that in ancient societies, “women’s procreative power was understood to be linked to all sorts of creative abilities.”  Goddesses ruled!

So, as we gather to march or, at the very least support the UN Women for Peace March, let’s be proud to be strong, beautiful women and men who can use our power — beauty-oriented or otherwise — to change the world!

For more information about the UN Women for Peace March on Saturday March 5, visit: http://www.unwomenforpeace.org/march-in-march/

RISE. UNITE. and MARCH with us this Saturday!

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Beauty Vloggers: A Sign of a Digital’s Much Bigger and More Powerful Influence on How We Communicate In This New Age

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What if I told you a bunch of beauty bloggers reflects a great, new and culture-altering phenomenon?

A report was just published that proves what we, in the tech business, have known for quite a long time: beauty bloggers, particularly beauty vloggers, are proving more influential than “celebrity” make-up artists.  You can’t troll YouTube without coming across dozens of popular, no, beloved, YouTube beauty experts.  I’ve been friendly with Michelle Phan over the years and seen her meteoritic rise into a mega star and powerhouse first hand.

What’s interesting about this information isn’t so much that there is a shift towards beauty bloggers, but rather why there’s the shift.  As the report points out, and viewers recognize immediately, these beauty mavens are very personable and, more importantly, real.  They usually use make-up to transform themselves.  They are not applying cosmetics and their tips and tricks to gorgeous models with smooth skin, high cheekbones and tiny pores.  Instead they are starting with a canvas that most people can relate to: a normal one.

Why should you care?  I guess if you’re searching for the best Oscar look to match your complexion, I can see why switching to beauty bloggers can help.  I’ve actually met a few of them over the years and they are pretty talented wonderful people.  But let’s be honest, for many of you readers, you probably couldn’t give a rat’s ass about them.

Ah, but you should care.

This shift from aloof beauty experts partnering with perfect models to more realistic, more relatable beauty-how-to stars reflects the larger shift that the digital space has offered, even demanded, of us all.  Whether we are promoting our businesses or our personal brands, the digital space expects us to be real, human and, well, splotchy sometimes.  To present our companies or ourselves as shiny, perfect, aloof and inhuman beings will only get us so far.

I actually spoke about this very point — albeit, in slightly different ways, at Social Media Week a few days ago.  I had the privilege of sharing the stage with my friend, and founder and president of TheSocialArchitects, Donnetta Campbell, where we talked about how peer to peer social can transform corporate brands (see pic below).  Social media and the digital space in general has changed how we communicate as brands and human beings.  While I observe this first hand, I learned this through extensive anthropological research we conducted a year ago.  What stands out to me is how vulnerable, real and raw we are all allowed to be.  Thanks to the real-time and highly visual nature of it all, this space is unfiltered, and highly emotive.  Remember how Carrie Fisher responded to nasty comments about her weight on Twitter  after the new Star Wars?  She struck back in a real and honest way.

Not only can we feel free to be imperfect in the social space, we should be!  Brand executives often tell me they are nervous about entering the social space because they could “lose control of their brands.”  Or they may screw up and “say” the wrong thing.  My response? People want to see the humanity behind the brands.  And that includes their screw ups — as long as brands come clean about them.

What’s so great about these new forms of communication is that they are beginning to pervade all aspects of our lives — online and off.  I truly believe we are going to see brands — all of us for that matter — feel freer to lose our veneers and be more open, honest and real.  Of course some of us could be a bit too real (ah, Kanye, ahem).  But I would take a bit of rawness over phony any day :).

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Provocative Theories of Beauty: Why & How It Stirs Us

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“As the force of physical attraction, beauty drives fertility, inspiration, creation, and reproduction. Beauty ricochets through the body and mind … Beauty has been the root of deep division and politicization.  But our attraction to beauty endures.”  — Andrea Lipps and Ellen Lupton

This sums it all up for me.

I stole the quote from a great review by CNN of the “Beauty—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial” exhibition.  The article describes how the exhibit’s artists, ranging from jewelry designers to ceramists to lighting designers, bring to life the many different definitions of beauty.  I’ve summed up these diverse explanations of beauty as follows:

  1. Ever changing.  Objects of beauty transform, e.g., we age or clay hardens. And of course, beauty ideals alter, e.g., overly tanned skin was out then in and now out of style.
  2. Expresses the passing of time.  To quote the article directly:                                                                                              To honor his grandmother’s failing memory, Tuomas Markunpoika welded small rings of steel around a hulking wardrobe. He then burned away the wood, leaving behind a lacy shell of blackened metal.The piece became “a physical memory of the furniture—kind of a smoky, shady, semitransparent memory of it.”
  3. Ignites our senses.  Beauty isn’t just visual but can stimulate our aural and olfactory senses as well.  In one instance, visitors can experience the scent of New York Cit’s Central Park.
  4. Challenges our perceptions.  From dresses made out of straws to images of decay, beauty pushes us to react, think, analyze and see the world anew.

This last description is, by far, my favorite.  In fact I’ve been especially taken by beauty as represented by death and decay (see my post: Beauty in Decay, Dirt and Death).  I know I may sound gruesome, but that’s not my point.  Rather, I’m blown away by expressions of beauty that challenge our expectations.

And that is the real purpose all my posts.  Originally, I chose to focus on beauty because I spent a number of years working with beauty brands, and it’s a topic that never goes out of style.  But as I dug deeper into the topic, I realized how complex, fascinating and wondrous our relationship to beauty truly is.  The topic of beauty can be a source of fun, angst or even ridicule.  But downplaying our understanding and reaction to it isn’t the answer.  Things of beauty may just strike us at first glance, but upon deeper reflection it becomes a window into our culture and ourselves.  It can open our eyes to how we live, what we value, and how brilliant and creative we, human beings, truly are.

If you get a chance to visit the exhibition, let us know what you respond to.