Tag Archives: loveliness

155. Red and Green (Aesthetics Conclusions)

red and green colours

We have seen over the past few weeks how beauty catches us unawares, how it is not always formulaic, but often inexplicably pleasing. The placement of a twig, the angle of a wing, the colour of a vase, the texture of fruit, there are unending variables in the science of aesthetics. The researchers tell us that the juxtaposition of red and green is particularly pleasing to the human mind, and we are coming on to look at colours as our next theme. A lot of products take advantage of such pleasure psychology, as does all the photo manipulation that goes on in advertising. But the truth is that there are very few things that we cannot, with some altering of perspective and a little metanoia, shifting of thought, find pleasing to the eye. Even the conventionally “ugly” person may have a smile that lights up the world, and just as we have to relearn our own loveliness, maybe we also need to reteach ourselves the loveliness of others.

text and photo © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017 Poem below, which I absolutely love © Galway Kinnell from his website http://galwaykinnell.com/books/poetry/body-rags/poem-1/

 

Saint Francis and the Sow by Galway Kinnell

 

The bud

stands for all things,

even those things that don’t flower,

for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;

though sometimes it is necessary

to reteach a thing its loveliness,

to put a hand on its brow

of the flower

and retell it in words and in touch

it is lovely

until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;

as St. Francis

put his hand on the creased forehead

of the sow, and told her in words and in touch

blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow

began remembering all down her thick length,

from the earthen snout all the way

through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of

the tail,

from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine

down through the great broken heart

to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering

from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking

and blowing beneath them:

the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

78: Unattractive

78 unattractive lightstargod pixabay gerda-1417288_1280

Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful.” Genesis 29:17 NIV

Unusually, I wrote this piece before I had a Bible verse to illustrate it. Normally I start with the verse and let it speak to me. But maybe this was providence, for I could not find a single reference to a person describing him or her as unattractive, ugly or not beautiful. Isn’t that wonderful? There is a lot of sexism recorded in the scriptures, and yet women’s beauty is never doubted. Even here, where one sister is preferred over the other, weak eyesight is the worst thing that can be levelled at Leah. In our appearance obsessed society where women especially are taught to constantly find fault with the way we and others look, I found this refreshing.

Feeling unattractive is a horrible thing which can affect anyone, and an insecurity that billion pound industries rely on to feed their unrelenting pockets. If we feel unattractive, then we feel unwanted. We think that no-one will have us, will want to partner us in life, or that the partner we do have is just making do with us, as indeed was Leah’s pain, and we’ll come back to that another day. It feeds fears and jealousies and inadequacies that ruin lives and make us ill.

The world has become so intent on marketable outer beauty now that we tend to forget how to see other ways that people are good to look upon. Some people just shine, whether it is with gentle quietness or raucous laughter, with softness or sassiness, with joyful exuberance or calm delight, with graceful elegance or sweet stumbling clumsiness, there is no end to the ways that real beauty presents herself, regardless of gender.

A voice and how it sings, the way a lock of hair persistently falls over a forehead and will not be tied back, the mole at the side of the mouth, the crow’s feet that crinkle up with every grin. These are the things that endear us to people, their idiosyncrasies, their differences, not the things that we all have in common and certainly not some awful Stepford Spouse homogeny that insists on boring symmetry, flatness, paralysed muscles and careful lack of feeling. A face and a body are places to live out our character, our sex appeal, our true selves, the expression of who we are. Our integrity is what draws people to us. If we imagine that reaching for some marketed ideal of size, shape and smile is true attractiveness or true beauty, we are living and believing a lie.

True beauty is slightly off centre, a little skewed, a bit cracked, lived in, enjoyed. It takes up as much room as it wants to and it sashays or slinks or skips, depending on how it feels. It does not pander to the beholder, nor does it realise how wonderful it is. True beauty lives and moves and has its being in the Lord, in freedom, in being itself.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay