On Beauty in Women
Wednesday, July 23, 2003 by Dave Winer.
On the Web we debate and we move. We argue and fight. We do things, we think deep thoughts, we express our frustration, we try to change the world.
A long time ago I wrote stories about people and children and eagles and soaring. I sometimes forget how much I liked to write those stories, and how much I enjoyed hearing from people who enjoyed reading them.
I also wrote about our cave needing curtains, how the Web wouldn't be wonderful until it was a home for feminine as well as masculine energy. That was eight years ago.
A few days ago I ran across an old essay I wrote about using the Internet to search for a Charles Ives symphony and finding a Burl Ives folk song that I used to dance to when I was three years old! That is the power of the Internet, it can reach through forty-five years of cruft and find the dancing baby that I used to be. He still remembers how to dance. What joy.
That's why simple stories about people and love are so powerful. Our reasoning bodies, our intellects, are relatively powerless; compared to the power of memory, the subconscious. If the intellect is a skinny stick figure standing on the side of a narrow road, the subconscious is a 16-wheel semi-truck barreling down the road at 90 miles per hour. Think of the stick figure waving and signalling, "Slow down slow down," and the truck keeps on going as if nothing were happening (nothing is happening).
We're fooled into thinking that any of our debates mean anything. The world will keep on doing what it's doing; as long as we're on the sidelines, hey, we might as well have a little fun.
Tomorrow I'll write a piece about technology. Its been a while since I wrote an essay. I wanted to restart the flow with something more personal, more human.
Halley Suitt writes about Girlism.
That got me thinking.
I had a flash of insight on a flight from Boston to Seattle last week on American Airlines. I picked up the inflight magazine and leafed through it. It had been a while since I had done that, as its been a while since I watched television. This time I noticed how incredibly polished all the pictures are, how devoid of humanity. In contrast to the pictures you see on weblogs, they are so perfect, but so lifeless. Then I considered the writing. It also is perfectly polished and totally soul-less. Now according to some these are the most beautiful photographs and writing, but to me they are the least beautiful.
I like photos taken by people with weblogs. I like weblog writing, rough and rambly, even angry and reckless. See, I think people expressing themselves honestly is where beauty comes from. We all need love, to be heard, appreciated, admired, cared for, but so few of us accept that we're entitled to it. We see our imperfections and want to erase them. But when I see an imperfection, I see something real, and to me that's beautiful. I'm not just saying that, I didn't feel that way when I was 24, but now that I'm 48, that's what's inside me. I don't love women for the attributes that the inflight magazines idealize, quite the opposite. I find the airbrushed, silicon-corrected bodies to be worse than ugly, they suck life out of all they come in contact with. Beauty is in the reality, in the expression of reality.
I don't really know why some women like to dress up, wear clothes that call attention to themselves, say silly things that I don't understand, spend hours getting ready to go out, cleaning everything and then cleaning again. I like that kind of stuff, but it kind of scares me. In a way I wish women were more like men. But on the other hand, I'm glad that they're not.
But please -- why does it bother so many women that some women like to be feminine, that this way of expressing themselves is threatening to them? They seem to confuse their girlishness with the idealized form of beauty. Hey, the women I love aren't like that. But get this, they aren't men either. They're different. And dammit I'm glad they are because that leaves me room to be who I am, a hairy guy with a big laugh. They can make more money than me, they can be smarter than me, and at the same time they can wear high heels and perfume and go out with their friends, and laugh a lot and watch Legally Blonde and think that's pretty good stuff. I watched The Godfather and felt that way. And we can go see Casablanca together and think that's it's great that there's more than one way to be, and feel safe that it's great to be who we are and nothing more and nothing less.
So many people need to hear this. The inflight magazine view of the world is a lie. Nothing is like that. Don't measure yourself against that. And do what you enjoy, and what you can do, and then and only then will you be beautiful. And don't worry so much about the little things, even the ones that seem really big. The things you think are imperfect are the things that make you so pretty.
Hey if you want to know where I'm coming from, go get a copy of Joe Cocker's You Are So Beautiful. In his crackly, squeaky imperfect way he speaks for every man who has ever loved a woman. Hey I know I'm a dork, but I love you. Now if we can all accept that about ourselves and each other, think of all the fun we can have.
You are so beautiful to me. You are so beautiful to me. Can't you see? You're everything I hoped for. You're everything I need. You are so beautiful. To me.