“What’s so hard to understand about people’s relationship to beauty? It’s obvious!”
Me: “Some could think I’m vapid.”
“Yes, they’d be right.”
These were some of the reactions I got this weekend when I described my blog to a woman in her 60’s (whom I respect a lot, btw).
I was actually surprised at the reaction. Not only did I feel it was overly harsh, given that this person never even read my blog, but it demonstrated the very attitude I’m trying to fight against.
One of the reasons I began this blog was that I felt celebrating beauty was frowned upon in some of my circles, and I wanted to give us all permission to embrace it. Just because I care about and celebrate beauty – no matter how one describes or interprets it – doesn’t make me vain, insensitive, shallow or close-minded. I believe that one of the gifts of being human is the ability to recognize, create and celebrate the aesthetic.
As a strong woman, I also take great offense at anyone who thinks that such traditionally womanly pursuits, like primping and beautifying, ought to be dismissed entirely, specifically because they are traditional acts. As Sara Halprin, psychologist and filmmaker, and author of Look at my Ugly Face, writes when coming to terms with caring about her appearance: “We have finally arrived at a time when many of us are questioning our own categories, asking…why the activities labeled ‘womanly’ are so often labeled ‘unimportant’.”
As I was getting a bit hot under the collar at the criticism being hurled at me, it dawned on me that it’s these very kinds of reactions that validate my blog! Even if you think the pursuit of beauty is “beneath” you or vain, it elicits strong reactions. To one degree or another, people care about it – positively or negatively!
Sure, I could write about something sweet like the best baby strollers around, or something profound like the deficit, but would I be offering something as unique, thought-provoking and close to my heart?