…and smize. Digital painting of my model friend whom I met at summer camp.


“You’re Beautiful Just The Way You Are”

Doesn’t the notion of “you’re beautiful just the way you are” only reinforce the importance of beauty for girls? Even when the purpose of the phrase is to undermine society’s concept of beauty? i.e you may not look the way photoshopped magazine models do, but never fear, you’re still beautiful–

On the surface, it’s a positive concept. You’re beautiful, and beauty’s a good thing. Forget what society deems beautiful–you, alone, in all your imperfections, are beautiful.

But then I wonder what the male equivalent of this sentiment is–you’re strong just the way you are? You’re buff just the way you are? You’re loud just the way you are? That’s not true–might be a pervasive gender trope, but being a man doesn’t mean you’re strong or buff or loud just the way you are. And in the face of that reality, of falling short of social expectations, what are men told? They’re beautiful just the way they are? Not quite. There just isn’t–not that I can think of ATM–a male equivalent.

Although “you’re beautiful” and spreading this message of “listen here, girls, we are all beautiful!” Is uplifting in a sense, it just ends up reinforcing the importance of beauty. That, as a female, you can’t sidestep the significance of beauty. That whether it’s constructed by some amorphous blob called “society” or by your friends or yourself, beauty is still paramount, still inextricably tied to worth, and that you must be beautiful because–because beauty is something we all have and must have. It’s cyclical.

At the same time, I’m not necessarily saying that appearance doesn’t matter. Or that beauty doesn’t wield a certain sort of overt and covert social power. I’m more critical of how “you’re beautiful just the way you are” only seems to ground the importance of beauty in a way that skews female far more than it does male…when the entire purpose is to step away from social constructions of beauty. By repeating the message, you’re only inadvertently overemphasizing the significance of beauty for girls and women.

Subconscious Dialogue


A friend from high school commented on this image with a really beautiful analysis:

The dimmed out face in a way feels bolder than the bolder face. Feels like it’s striking you even though it’s so subtle.  I interpreted it as someones subconscious talking to their conscious self. Really love this piece. It makes me so curious as to what goes inside your head.

A part of me melted when I read that. For a second I remembered how in IB Art she was always offering these wildly eloquent critiques (Every two weeks we’d throw up our pieces on the board and critique other people’s works) She would always come up with these incredible and thoughtful analyses, like, well, the one above.

Subconsciouses. Consciouses. Freudian-type stuff. The latent thoughts you wake up with, the decisions you didn’t realize you’d already made.

Sometimes when we’re analyzing works in class, I wonder how much of the artist’s decisions were intentional. The extent to which we’re superimposing our own views and expectations on their work. So much of art’s symbolic and representational, supposedly imbued with so much meaning. But maybe we’re drawing from ourselves more than we are from the artist, calling it theirs when really it’s ours.