What You Said
Happy 1234567890 Day!
The Roll of Film digital portrait post was an experiment to explore self portraits and how I feel about seeing my own face/body and to look in to some of the issues that entwine themselves with this subject. Scientific experiments start with a hypothesis, and I did not, and I am kind of glad about that, because I realize my experiment is really more of a conversation, an explore, and I am really enjoying the dialogue that is warming up. Please read the comments.
First of all, thank you. Thank you for commenting and thank you for saying nice things about how I look. Blush.
The compliments feel good, and I also got to think about something new... I brought up the subject of "beauty," and now I am wondering about other qualities that appear in portraits... things like, intelligence, wisdom, maturity, grace, gentleness, relaxed, comfortable, strong, innocent, athletic, old, funny, creative, demure, artistic, serious. How many of these things might appear in a person's portrait, and how many of them can be construed as flattering remarks to make about a person? I am thinking about the adage that if you say "She is smart," then by omission, you are saying "She is not pretty." Maybe it goes back to my concern that we are witnessing such tremendous filtering of the qualities of physical beauty, that like in refined food, we have lost all other substance and quality. Sugar is sweet, but how far will it take you? Beauty is wonderful, but why have we diminished the value of age, experience, intelligence, strength, humor, and those elusive things we call character?
To be kind, to be sensitive, there is an instinctive compulsion to say something nice about prettiness (and I am trying to be tactful and delicate as I talk about this, because I don't want anyone to take offense about Me or You being insincere.) It's interesting that if people looked at a picture of me and said smart, rested, happy, shy, kind, gentle, humorous... I probably would hope to hear just 1 more remark about my looks. Even though "smart, rested, happy, shy, kind, gentle, humorous" are all great or interesting qualities, I would still crave that little ego massage that comes with a 'pretty, gorgeous, beautiful,' kind of compliment and I would even fretfully assume I must be unpretty if no one said "pretty." What is up with that? Is it because I am insecure, or co-dependent? Is it because I am conditioned to believe that an omission is an indirect statement? And here is what really concerns me: Is it hard to omit "pretty," because we do not appreciate, value all those other qualities?
I don't have answers.
I have an anecdote...
Our family was together in a waiting room, as were other families with children. Another boy, about 7 or 8 years old, was talking to my boys, and that boy's mother and her friend/sister were nearby. So, the little boy asked Max and Alex the usual kinds of questions about age and schools and favorite toys, and he kept glancing at Geoff, my husband.
After a bit, the boy asked Max, "Hey, is he your dad?"
Max turned to Geoff, his dad, and answered the boy, "Yeah, he's my dad."
The boy dropped his jaw a bit and said, "Whoa. How old is your dad?"
Geoff was 39 at the time.
The boy looked surprised, and he said, "Man, your dad's only 39? My dad is old. My dad's 65."
At this point the boy's mother turned on her heels and in a tone of admonishment, slightly embarrassed, said, "Your dad is not old. He is not old." She moved swiftly and with a fervor that was lioness, to defend this man's honor. As though the 65 year old father had been maligned and reproached, publicly disgraced, she stood to restore his dignity and youth.
Touchy subject, I thought. The lady doth protest a bit much, yeah? I mean, where is the insult in recognizing that 65 is old? It is certainly older than 39 or even 50. Old does not mean at death's door or decrepit, right? Her son's description did not leave me picturing his father on a feeding tube, in a rocking chair, mumbling about the Civil War. I thought it was a sad example of how we allow our words and beliefs to diminish worthwhile traits and characteristics. She could have said so much more by emphasizing the man's virility, his intellect or career, his good health or even good looks, but what was the point or truth in insisting that her 65 year old husband is young?
Why don't we appreciate Old? More to think about.
I love how every conversation can have many angles and approaches. Judy, in Kentucky, brought up the decorator phenomenon and all those granite countertops! I totally agree, just like the look alike faces of cosmetic surgery, people seem to have surrendered personal taste for the HGTV-master-suite themes that are so common and expected, they have become positively dull. Houses and people should look like themselves.
And ourselves look so good when they project a Whole person, whether we are old or innocent, brainy or athletic, brainy and athletic, tired, funny, eager, reserved, pretty, strange, unique, encumbered, struggling, liberated, confused, in progress. I wish I had more time to say more and really put my thoughts in order, so that I can be certain I am saying what I mean and meaning what I say, instead of just clucking around, scratching the surface, like a hen. And I hope You have more to say, more to share, because it's the exchange and discourse that make this enjoyable, which is why I was so happy to find Peacebang's thoughts about portraits and self image.
The images I am sharing in today's post are a mix from way back and from recent days. They are another kind of portrait of me.