Finally, a new post!
...When the curtain of social judegement pulls back, it reveals the most amazing beauty.
"I first became aware of this phenomenon when I was a college art student. Every few weeks, I'd join this or that group of artists, and we'd all pitch in a few bucks to rent a studio and hire a model. Most of the people we got to pose were college students with bodies that matched the social ideal--slender, fit, perfectly proportioned. (After all, who else would risk standing naked in a roomful of strangers?) And then, one day, we got somebody really different.
She looked well over sixty, with a deeply lined face and a body that was probably fifty pounds heavier than her doctors would have liked. She'd had a few doctors, too, judging from her scars. Shining purple welts from a cesarean section and knee surgery cut deep rifts in the rippled adipose fat of her lower body. another scar ran across one side of her chest, where her left breast had once been. When she first limped onto the dais to pose, I felt so much pity and unease that I physically flinched. But we were there to draw her, so I picked up a pencil.
The thing about drawing is that you can't do it well with your social self. You have to bring out your essential self, which doesn't know anything about social stereotypes. And so, as I began to draw this maimed old woman, the most amazing thing happened. Within five minutes, she became a person of absolutely wondrous beauty. She didn't look like a supermodel; she didn't have to. Her body, in and of itself, was as beautiful as a piece of polished driftwood, or a wind-carved rock, or a waterfall. My essential self didn't know that I was supposed to compare the woman to various movie stars, any more than it would have evaluated the Andes Mountains by judging how much they looked like an Iowa cornfield. It simply saw her as she was: an exquisite sculptural form.
When this perceptual shift happened, I was so surprised that I stopped drawing and simpley stared. The model seemed to notice this, and without turning her head, looked straight into my eyes. Then I saw the ghost of a smile flicker across her face, and I realized something else: She knew she was beautiful. She knew it, and she knew that I'd seen it. Maybe that's why she had consented to pose nude in the first place. Knowing that a roomful of artists couldn't draw her without seeing her--I mean really seeing her--she may have decided to give us a gentle education about our perceptions.
...if you feel a bit isolated or scared, and your faith in yourself isn't exactly earthquake-proof, you must learn to do what ...Mystery Model seemed to do naturally: replace your hypercritical, limiting, lying Everybody with an Everybody who sees you as you really are."
Labels: Book Review