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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quick Quote

"I don’t wax my eyebrows to appease people making snap judgements about me, I do it because I choose porn-compliant eyebrows. Choosing makes me a feminist. If porn-compliance happens appease to people making snap judgements, well, that’s entirely accidental."

This quote is from a blog post on I Blame the Patriarchy, which I think sums up my feelings about feminism and my feelings about aesthetics. Choosing to wear makeup and care about fashion does not make me an antifeminist (although I may joke that it does). I wear what I wear and apply the makeup that I do because I enjoy it...not to appease someone else.

Along the same lines, I recently found out that my high school is considering abolishing the "Best Dressed" senior superlative. As a senior who very much cares about fashion, I am upset. They claim that this is an unfair superlative, because having a superior fashion sense means you spend more money on your clothes. I completely disagree, you could have an amazing fashion sense and spend very little on your clothes (I buy many of my clothes at Goodwill, Salvation Army, Plato's Closet, and assorted thrift shops). It's a little insulting to someone who cares about fashion and who dresses well because I enjoy it to hear it belittled to nothing more than a petty narcissistic industry and hobby.

That's just what's on my mind today, but I'd love to hear what anyone else thinks about the quote I found from the blog post or my thoughts on the "Best Dressed" superlative.

Until next time,

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Transforming Yourself: Stage Makeup for Romeo and Juliet

This week I'd like to focus a little less on the academic side of this blog and a little more on the pure aesthetic side of the blog. This last week I had the amazing experience of doing the makeup for my school's production of Romeo and Juliet. For anyone reading this blog that does not go to my school, let me just add that our school affords us a lot of amazing experiences, and our theatre program is both well funded and very high quality.

For the next three weeks, I'd like to focus on the transformative aspect of aesthetics: how easy it is to transform your appearance and how that affects you. That is one of the things that I can take away from my experience with Romeo and Juliet: many of the cast members expressed how theatre can be an escape for them, that they become a complete other person and don't have to focus on themselves for a while. And my job is to make sure that they complete that transformation not only on the inside but on the outside so that the audience believes it.

Working behind the scenes on a play is amazingly enjoyable for me. It's hard to explain to the actors, whose greatest ambition is to be on the stage under a spotlight, but it is much more fulfilling to me to be the one waiting offstage with powder for when they sweat (ew, I know) or blush for when they get a little too washed out. In fact, as I found out last year, I really hate being on stage.

Being able to contribute to the success of a play like Romeo and Juliet, and to watch my friends and peers become fantastic actors was an absolutely rewarding and wonderful experience for me. And helping a 17 year old look like he's 50, well, that's both awesome and hilarious.

It's interesting to me how looking like another person can so wholly transform you. You can't completely become that other person until you walk in their shoes. One perfect example is my friend Megan, who played Lady Capulet. We gave her really sharp lines on her face and dark makeup, which only intensified her sternness as a character. She looked absolutely awesome and you could often catch her staring at herself in the mirror and scowling, because looking like Lady Capulet helped her become Lady Capulet.

In the next two posts, I want to explore other ways that people transform their outer shells to transform themselves on the inside, if only for one night.

Until next time,

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Racism: Discrimination Based on Aesthetic Differences

One thing that interests me most about aesthetics is the human perception of aesthetic differences. What got me thinking about this is the book we are currently reading in my English class, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbra Kingsolver (if you need a quick summary, here is one). I find it interesting to hear the reactions of this white family from the South to native African culture and the differences they find between them and the Congolese.

It is funny to me to look back at the many justifications for racism, when in reality, it all comes down to discrimination based on aesthetic differences. It is interesting to note that racism is a fairly modern concept. Before there were people objecting to the morality of slavery, there was really no rationale for slavery other than its convenience. There began to be modern racism when people started to realize that slavery was a massive human rights abuse. It was then that they had to form some sort of rationale as to why slavery existed, and that was that people of color were inferior to whites.

There were many ideas of why blacks specifically were inferior to whites. In the book, the girls don't really understand why, other than that is what they always have known. The youngest girl, Ruth May, is interesting because she is used to talk about sensitive subjects since she is just a child regurgitating what she hears. She says that it's not the Congolese people's fault that they are doomed to this life without God's light, because they are the tribes of Ham and are doomed to be in servitude forever. This was a prominent rationale among white Southerners defending slavery. Using the Bible as evidence for the inherent inferiority of blacks was an easy way to say that whites were meant to be superior.

There were attempts to say that blacks were genetically inferior, that they were the middle ground between Caucasians and apes. There have even been attempts to show that based on different body measurements, blacks did not grow past puberty, and therefore it was the whites' job to take care of them.

All of these attempts at justification come back to the one issue, that a certain group of people were discriminated against based on something they can not control: the color of their skin. This shows how important aesthetics really are, by just looking a certain way it can affect your place in society. In further blogs, I'd like to explore a little bit more about the different types of aesthetic differences that can affect how you are percieved.

Until next time,