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Friday, December 2, 2011

Experiments in relativity

Christ Carrying the Cross, by Hieronymus Bosch


No, this post is not about physics!

Well, maybe about optics.

You see, I have vision problems.

Some people don't see well from afar. Some people don't see well when it's close.

What I don't see is ugliness.

Which has led me to coin the phrase "Ugliness is in the eye of the beholder".

I don't clearly recall when was the first time I realized I was ugliness-blind.

Maybe it was when I read an interview with the French novelist Amélie Nothomb, who insisted she was ugly.

I looked at pictures of her. At videos of her. I looked and I looked. From all angles. I could not see ugliness.

Yes, I noticed her features were not the most delicate. Yes, I noticed her face did not have the sought-after symmetry.

No, she probably would not succeed as a fashion model.

But ugly? I did not see that.

When I look at people, it's as if my eyes ignore the imperfections and focus on the beauty. In some people it's their hair. In some it's their eyes. Some people have a flawless skin. Well-aligned teeth. A wonderful, luminous smile. Some people's beauty resides in their voice. In their laughter. In their quiet confidence. Their humour. Their energy. In the way they look at you. In the things they say.

Everyone is beautiful in their own way. And I think we're happier when we focus on that.

I am actually not the only one to see things that way. Serge Gainsbourg, the French singer famous for claiming that "ugliness is superior to beauty in that it never fades", was certainly not a Chippendale, and yet he was constantly surrounded by pretty women.

He had them sing salacious songs with him:

Les sucettes (The lollipops)

Je t'aime moi non plus (I love you, me neither)

He had them merrily climb into his bed.

They even made babies with him.

I am guessing those women all had the same vision problems as me.

Another example of relativity in physical appearance matters is the way I recently reacted to a bunch of 18 year old men whistling me as I was running in the neighborhood. Other than being tempted to laugh and tell them to "cool it off, guys, I'm probably twice your age", what I felt was pride. Back when I was 18, I would have felt disrespected, maybe even threatened. Not anymore. This time, I liked it. When I shared this anecdote with my friends, they all had an extremely positive reaction. "Way to go, girl!" kind of  thing. They all thought it was great!

So the rules of thumb, guys, is to 1) never consider a woman too pretty for you (well, unless she shows signs of NOT being interested, of course! Respect is a capital R word!), and 2) only whistle women who are at least 15-20 years older than you!!!

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