Friday, July 20, 2007

Mirror, Mirror

If I could look like anyone in the whole world, I would want to look (and move) like Polina Semionova, one of the most beautiful ballerinas EVER. She's PERFECT.

I had to post some videos (they're not in English, but it doesn't really matter). In the rehearsal section of the first one she plays Odile, daughter of the evil Baron von Rothbart in Swan Lake, in the process of seducing Prince Siegfried in order to get him to break his vow to Odette, the Swan Queen. In the second video she rehearses Odette, the tragic heroine of the story, all pathos and brokenhearted love.

(Incidentally, for anyone who might have preferred an embedded video of Stierle's incredible solo "Lacrymosa" on my Celsius 233 post, it's there now, finally.)

Recently one of the nurses accused me of having low self-esteem for saying matter-of-factly that I wasn't a beautiful woman. Why is an honest, realistic assessment of one's physical attributes necessarily "low self-esteem?" I mean, sure, I'd LOVE to look like Polina, but I'm also accepting of the fact that I don't, nor do most women in the world. Do THEY have low self-esteem if they observe they don't have super-model looks? Come on. Just because we acknowledge facts doesn't mean we loathe ourselves. In fact, I think it takes genuine self-love to be comfortable with being ordinary, especially in a world that puts such a premium on being "exceptional," and I try to grow toward that kind of maturity every day. It's a work in progress, as always.

In addition to drawing the wrong conclusion about my opinion of myself, this nurse was also equating esteem-ability with extreme beauty - I mean, if it's OKAY not to be drop-dead gorgeous, then why is it "LOW" self-esteem to acknowledge that one is not exactly drop-dead gorgeous?


When I was all into ballet, I would notice things like perfectly pointed feet, musicality, pleasing line, etc. Now I can't help noticing how GREAT her landmarks are for a central line, and how easy it would be to insert a sixteen-gauge needle into her jugular, using that prominent sternocleidomastoid and her pulsating carotid as guides...It's funny how circumstances can change the way you look at the world...


Lisa Johnson said...

Very interesting musings on beauty. It's true that at a certain point, we just have to accept what we look like and be okay with that.

But also, maybe this nurse just used the wrong words. Maybe she didn't mean that you had low self-esteem. Maybe she just meant that you don't see yourself the way she does.

T. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
T. said...

Hi, Anali -

I keep having to take comments back to fix my dangling participles! But on to what I really wanted to reply-

Yes, I believe you're right - I do think the nurse's intentions were actually not to criticize me but rather to affirm the positive aspects of his view of me, which was ultimately very kind on his part.

I've often thought about the beauty issue because I think for creatures who rely so heavily on visual perception, it's a pretty influential component of our social interactions.

Last night I came across a relevant passage by St. Therese of Lisieux quoted by author James Martin: "...the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. I understand that if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wildflowers..."

The older I get, the easier it is to see beauty, talent, goodness, etc. in almost everyone. Some people relish finding flaws or things to criticize, but I love meeting people and thinking, "Wow, what a lovely smile," or reading others' blogs and thinking, "What an interesting mind / talented writer!" This whole blog experience has helped me learn how incredibly gifted people are, each in his or her own way, and what a pleasure that is to discover in each other, given the chance.