One of the things that arouses a deep concern in practical people is witnessing the person who appears to invest a great deal in looking beautiful.
Broadly speaking, the utilitarian believes those who give much care to physical appearance must be one – or all – of three ugly things: narcissistic, vain or inauthentic. Behind the unease lies an idea that expression fueled by genuine confidence lacks a need to prove itself. A deep sense of diffidence must be the driver of the person who steers towards the purposeless aim of beauty.
But, it’s possible to hold a more generous impression towards chasers of beauty.
One impression about beauty is that no one can know what it is. It is a subjective matter: What John names a thing of beauty can be the same thing George calls ugly. The unintended result of this sense has been a pervasive insouciance towards defining beauty. If no one can know what beauty is, we reason, it is pointless to set ourselves to defining it. The person who takes on the project of asking what is beautiful and why do we like beautiful things is either silly or set on a fool’s errand – best left to eccentric people in the fashion industry.
The outcome of our collective, casual lack of concern has been a culture where definitions of beauty flows from narrow descriptions. The girl with the straight hair is beautiful, her hair makes her look like Beyonce. The one with the wholly hair looks strange, because…well, because she just looks strange – the puzzle of her strangeness too dazzling for our uninterested minds.
Our tendency to cling to familiar ideas of beauty while rejecting the ones which fail to fit existing casts leaves us bare to biased sways of culture. Living under the dictations of culture isn’t a bad thing perse. But it calls for concern when we do so mindlessly
As utilitarians, we might worry about sinking into the abyss, becoming swayed by narcissism, vanity, and inauthenticity. But this concern need nudge us towards more generous interpretations of those who adore beauty. So uncertain are we of ourselves that we worry coming in contact with beautiful things leaves us vulnerable in our flight towards beauty. Knowing and understanding ourselves can pose tremendous difficulty. We mustn’t take on the project of highlighting what serves as the underlying motives of those who exist outside of ourselves. We are better off steering clear of investing mental resources on why a person represents what s/he represents, useless we are practicing psychologists. We can never (truly) know.
The utilitarian bias – that chasers of beauty are driven by ugly motives – misleads us in that it points to what lies forever beyond our reach: the motivations of other people. A lack of confidence may be the reason Charles clings to Calvin Klein but those of us who reside beyond the interiors of Charles’s mind have no way of confirming our suspicions. We are better off placing our attention on the effects chasers of beauty enact in their givings. One of which is exposing us to the courageous bend of exercising our liberty.
They remind us: We are at liberty to nurse ideas of beauty. Old ones. New ones. Clever ones. The ones which should never see the light of day. Crazy ones. Those our friends implore us to abolish. The kinds that bring us songs of praise. Anyone. We are at liberty to bring conscious thought to the project of defining beauty. Our ambitions may rest with defining it for ourselves or it may extend far beyond to laying the framework of what others deserve to call beautiful. It’s left for us to know our liberty and explore it to our heart’s desire.
They inspire us: We can celebrate our definitions of the beautiful, giving them honour as they rise to reach claims of beauty.
One person who flaunts his liberty and demonstrates a courageous bend towards the pursuit of beauty is Denola (Grey) Adepetun.
From this chaser of beauty we learn three things:
1. Dial Down the Impulse to Conform.
Impressions we hold today exist because we were able to sense inputs sent our way by our parents, our teachers, and our priests. Our adult lives comprises the unrolling of preconceived models of the world. With clothing Grey lets us in on a little secret: all that we have been told (about clothes) has been a lie, or at least far from all we thought it to be.
Our capacity for making sense of the world remains unparalleled. Yet something else surpasses this power: Our Creativity. Sense inputs we take in can be synthesized to bring forth the new.
Our new ideas clash with the old? Give no fuckery. New sound ideas deserve equal honour as old ones that have stood the test time. Adhering to the old can be of value but so is making space for the new. We can down the dial of conformity a few degrees
2. Care about Appearance
Beautiful things carry in them “the good”.
Grey tells us a thoughtful arrangement of fabric can make us think of balance, gentleness, dignity. Features honoured because of their “good”qualities.
We can offer others a description of who we are by giving careful thought to arrangement of things we attach to ourselves. Appearance can be a thing of importance.
3. See Beauty in the Familiar
We are quick to dismiss the usefulness of charm. But charm is useful to winning over hearts.
Grey’s devotion to beauty opens us to seeing old things in new ways.
Charm is key here. For through it we can be left entranced. Those who possess it can shift the contents of our minds. We rarely need new things to help us see beauty. It can be found in things we already know, things that are familiar.
Chasers of beauty say, in the best sense: This is what I think is beautiful.
We may live ‘taboos’, unsung by the world. But we can adopt the courage of those who chase beauty in our declaration of what counts as beautiful. We can learn to say: this is what I think is beautiful.
We can invest a great deal in pursuing beauty; we can try at being beautiful. The usefulness of the pursuit rests in its potency to exercise our sense of liberty. Our values may reside elsewhere: in truth, in wisdom or in freedom. It matters that we shed limiting biases and exercise our liberty to celebrate our truest (most beautiful) selves.
You are Awesome.
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