The thing about beauty


I have no doubt that I am an intelligent young woman. no doubt whatsoever. I know pretty much where I stand when it comes to how my brain works & the magic it can create. I know where I stand with what I do not know & I am not one of those ashamed of knowing that which I don’t know. I don’t go around worrying that people will think I’m stupid because I know I’m not. & I don’t need anyone to tell me it is so.

Beauty, on the other hand, is another thing altogether. I tread her house carefully, on tip toes, afraid to be seen & defined by people who created square pegs. This house…this place is made out of vulnerability.  the walls, tender & fragile. the floor shaky.  it needs to be propped up some of the time.

But as I sit here on this red & blue sturdy ottoman looking through the smoky windows, I realise that the smoke is actually on the outside. the dirt is thrown at this house from without. the healing peace & stillness that lives here is often sabotaged from the outside.

I realise then that we’ve got beauty all wrong. choked up & hanging upside down.

We are born into a world that punches a price tag on white skin, black skin, inbetween skin; a price tag on whether your eyes are filled with colour or devoid of it. my favourite is green.

Even when we object to this selling & buying with our wonderfully constructed words & sentiments, when push comes knocking on the door to take orders, we are forced into a corner & when it really matters our actions betray us. we side with the beauty that the world teaches us to revere. of skin, hair & bone. white skin, silky, flowing hair & thin bones to be exact. & even then, we make gradations that run so deep & thick.

We are conditioned to think of beauty as divided within itself, vulnerable in the face of culture, infact, produced by it. & so we can talk about white beauty & black beauty as though they were two different things, completely unrelated because let’s face it, what do standard brown eyes have on dreamy blue eyes or porcelain skin on midnight dark skin?

We are trained to compare like this. to see beauty like this. to see some as the universal cup holders of it as the rest of us scramble for the drops that escape their golden cup while they laugh in derision over our attempts to claim for ourselves our labels of beauty that do not begin with the adjective black

Listen as I drop wisdom as old as the earth into your lap. I’ll lay it on you thick:

The thing about beauty is that it is neither black nor white. It is not Latin American, Asian or exotic. And get this, it is not cultural. For the moment we confine & dress it up in cultural garb, in the ugly petticoats of “it’s a cultural thing – every culture values different things” we exclude some people from our beauty list. Because well, they look good but they just don’t fit into our mental frameworks of what beauty is supposed to be. & so we close our eyes & hearts to them.

Beauty has to be named outside our own insecurities, complexes & complications. If it walks by in long legs – let’s see it. If it smiles in dark chocolate dimples – let’s proclaim it. If it sashays in full, voluptuous curves – let’s celebrate it.

We have to set beauty free. we have imprisoned it to mean only what we are prepared to endorse. It’s much more than that. much more than symmetry. much bigger than our puny perceptions.

Stay here for a while & let that soak right into you. Before you go off into complications of skin, hair & bone where the depth of beauty is lost, stay here a while. stay here. & get it right.

Then let’s teach it to our children.

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