Friday, November 28, 2014

Melanie Gaydos and the Myth of "New Beauty"

                                                           photo by Eric Lee Bowman

Melanie Gaydos.
I love you.
I want others to love you.
But I have to be careful in my approach.

Melanie Gaydos is a model. She was born with something called ectodermal dysplasia. This changes one's ability to grow hair, have sweat glands, effects the nails and teeth, and in fact seems to be an umbrella term that encompasses a wide range of unusual detours from the norm. Hers is a severe case. But she wanted to be a model. And she is one. A high fashion, fine art model, perhaps one day on a runway, already featured in a number of music videos.

One thing straight tho.
The more time I spend with her pictures, the more I think of her, the more I understand her, the harder it is to stand the obvious pandering that happens. People love her DESPITE her face. People think, "oh, poor girl, how brave, that DESPITE her face, she wants to be a model. How sweet". They commend her on her bravery (which of course she must have, truly), they deride the norms of beauty and focus on her body (because "DESPITE" her face her body is, it is true, extraordinary, and so on).

I have to say that I honestly, truly, DO think she is beautiful. This isn't some soft-peddling of what is obviously a face that is unusual, a disease that I am sure has caused her numerous difficulties in her life. But the more I look, the more I see, and the more I feel awake. I feel like another sense opens up when I see her. It isn't some pitytrip for a woman suffering. Its someone looking at another and saying, "no, you know, I really LIKE this. I really DO think this is something else. I want more of this in my life".
Her mouth, in particular, I find beautiful. When she wears lipstick, her face takes on such a wonderful shape that it blows my mind.
The WAY she conveys in her photos- there is something she is bringing forth that i can't put my finger on. Its like she is dispensing this new wisdom or something. I kept thinking, "new beauty"....
but that's bullshit.

Beauty is beauty. As she herself said, "beauty is a state of being...I have never felt I was ugly and I don't feel that way now".
It isn't about saying, "yes, maybe, I could look at that and not feel sorry for her and I think her struggle is beautiful, poor girl". NO. NO.
It really isn't that.
Beauty is beauty. Just because you get locked in and fooled by an overwhelming majority doesn't mean that when someone like Melanic comes along (which is, of course, never) you should softpedal and make it sound like she is no different from others. She is AMAZINGLY different. She is WONDERFULLY different.

You may, upon first seeing her face, be shocked. I was. I had to know- is she real? What is happening here?
Then I got really profoundly touched by her interview for "What's Underneath". I cried. Alot.
Then I got over it.
She is so much more than even THAT.

The more I look the more I am amazed. When I spend some time with her photos and then look at other people, its just not as interesting. Its just not as....yes, beautiful.

The whole dialog of "stretching" one's idea of beauty to encompass Melanie Gaydos is just.....shit. Its shit. What is beauty? Really? Symmetry? A body without scars? A mouth that is not a cleft palate? Can a cleft palate be beautiful?

I think it is. I am glad to learn this lesson and not be someone crying. She is beautiful to me. There is no "new" beauty, just new eyes to see what has always been. Its an extraordinary lesson in my own bullshit. And a lesson in keeping your eyes and mind open.