Wednesday, March 28, 2012

#144 - Beauty Consultant for Hire

Beauty Consultant For Hire

3/28/12 (#144)

I want to change careers. It would be a big shift, but I believe I will make a fantastic beauty consultant. Not like the animated mannequins at high-end department stores who prey on people's insecurities by demonstrating how they can mask miniscule "flaws" in the interest of so-called self-improvement, and certainly not like the plastic surgeons who multiply that make-up counter pitch to exponentially more permanent and costly extremes. No, my services will be much simpler: For the smallest possible fee that would still allow me to feed my family, I would meet with people professionally and point out every beautiful thing about them.

A career built on being complimentary? Don't be too quick to dismiss it, because there are two critical factors that make this a plausible business model:

First, I honestly think most people are beautiful. This doesn't mean they fit some preconceived template for attractiveness like the stringent guidelines employed by the advertising industry — it means they're beautiful in their own right, on their own terms. For me, it's as simple as this: When you see a person, imagine what the person who loves them loves most about them. Maybe it's the warmth in a woman's eyes or the readiness of a man's smile, the breadth of their shoulders or the grace of their gait, the confidence in their posture or the effervescence of their laugh. I don't think anyone is beautiful in exactly the same way someone else is beautiful, but that doesn't mean they aren't every bit as beautiful as the next person, and the next.

Second, so many people seem painfully self-aware of their supposed flaws. You can see it in the way they apply their make-up or use clothing as a disguise, how they cut their hair to cover their face or keep their smile tight to hide what's behind it. Maybe some of what I see is my imagination, but I recognize the ruses - I've done the same things myself, because I consider my best features to be between my ears, not on my face. I know the vulnerability one feels when a smile is met with a deliberate glance away, when we invest more effort than we should into aspiring to what only feels like adequacy, let alone excellence. In short, I know what it means to be human. And I'm smart enough to realize that being human is enough.

I would be amazing at the job, primarily because I would approach it with complete abandon. I would never lie to my clients, because I wouldn't have to — I would simply accentuate the positives that people too often deny in themselves. The real beauty, not the blueprint imposed by inaptly-named "beauty magazines."

The goal is not to convince people that they are closer than they think to some fictional ideal they have set in their sights. Pursuing an external definition of attractiveness is the opposite of what I want to achieve. My aim is to expose that fiction as a fraud, to reveal to them what is obvious to me: they are already beautiful, and any time spent worrying otherwise is time wasted. I don't presume it will be an easy conversion, but I believe I have the facts on my side.

While I really do believe that almost everyone is beautiful, there are still ways that people make themselves unattractive. Arrogance is a genuinely ugly trait, and no amount of make-up can cover it up; ditto on hatred, because drawing ugly lines in your heart also creates ugly lines on your face. (I know no one who finds scowl lines enticing.) But as for the rest of the species, I use the food analogy: there are absolutely no similarities between pizza and apples and ice cream, and I appreciate every one of them. I don't wish they were more like each other — I celebrate how different they all are. People have big noses and small noses, perfect teeth and crooked teeth, balding heads and hairy arms and curvaceous thighs and flat chests and furrowed brows and flirty smiles, and there's something genuinely compelling in every feature if you look at what's there, not what's missing. To hell with anyone who tells you otherwise — you (yes you, dear reader) are genuinely beautiful, and I'm not just offering platitudes. You really are, so-called flaws and all.

(Wait, this business model isn't going to work if I keep giving this away.)

©2012 wpreagan


Christine said...

What a wonderful post! I totally agree with you on the perception of beauty as some fixed, outside *thing* to aspire to, and I reject that completely. (oddly, while reading this, I was hearing Christina Aguillers singing "Beautiful" in my mind) And, I have to say, your business idea would probably be a huge success. You'd have to hire help, and franchize!

William Reagan said...

Thanks Christine. I didn't know that song, but love the lyrics. ("We're the song that out of tune, full of beautiful mistakes." Nice!) I'm glad there are many places where this message is conveyed -- though I wish there weren't so many places where the opposite message is blared. There's one acne product ad that slays me every time I hear that discusses "less than perfect skin" -- Less than perfect?! Is that the only thing that is good enough, perfect? Ridiculous.

(PS Sorry for the slow posting of your comment. I missed the notification that a comment arrived.)

Tim said...

Okay but let's at least admit, while it's the imperfections and differences that make a woman beautiful, they do look better in heels! ;-)

Anthony said...

This is a genuine & great piece of writing. We see eye to eye there. Your food analogy is perfect. The one that I have always used is: “Ever flower is different, yet all are beautiful. People are the same.” Your word picture is even better, since pizza and apples are far more removed than a rose from a tulip.