Making Beauty a Priority

It’s just that time of year. I’m wrapping up projects, making ideas and plans for the new year, and preparing for the renewal of a fresh start. Something about starting a new calendar year that, even if you oppose the artificiality and restrictions of time as we know it, give you that can-do energy. It’s a blank canvas effect. Or blank page, in my case.

beauty art aestheticsAnyway, I’ve decided the theme of my 2017 is going to be Making Beauty A Priority.

I’ve sort of been doing it subconsciously for a while now. I have this wholesome, Midwestern, Puritan voice in my head that worships the practical and disdains the aesthetic. Therefore whenever I make a nutritious and cost-efficient meal, the voice is greatly pleased. But when I go to add a garnish or dig out the fancy china, the voice rears up and proclaims that not only do these things not matter, but they’re also a waste of my precious time.

I tell the voice, “But these things make me feel good.”

The voice—let’s call him Pragmatist—tells me that that’s all nonsense. It isn’t real. It’s an illusion and a waste of time and energy.

Pragmatist is such a quiet, solid, stable voice that I hardly ever question it. But the past couple of years I’ve started doing things that some might call “out of character” for me. Like buying underwear in colors other than white and nude and fabrics other than cotton. Or getting my ears pierced. Or rearranging the books on my shelf by cover color rather than alphabet. All of these things have required a sort of inner rebellion against Pragmatist.

I feel like it’s such a transformative thing to question your own voices. I mean, we all eventually question our parents or our politicians or our religious leaders. But what we forget is that these institutions raised us. They live in our heads. Which means our inner voices may not all be right. Or they may not be right all the time. Or more importantly, they may not be us.

I don’t think Pragmatist is me. He certainly doesn’t sound like me. I’m glad he’s there because he has saved me from bad decisions at times, so I don’t plan to do away with him altogether. But there’s power in taking him off his throne of power and putting myself there instead. I’m still discovering who I am, but one thing I know for sure is that beauty, art, aesthetics…they’re important. They live after nations crumble. They’re what we look at and study to find out who we are as humans.

It’s a denial of my own humanity to consider myself above beauty. It’s a denial of my own womanhood to fail to nurture my desire for personal beauty.

So that’s my goal. Make beauty a priority.

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