Needless to say, the picture you see above is truly striking. It definitely struck me the moment I saw it. Maybe it is the way the ‘marks’ on their bodies appeared like art, almost like their stories were etched upon their very skin. It was simply beautiful. And when my friend Tejiri, encouraged me to write a piece about this shot, I strived to understand the inherent motivation behind the picture. The Persian photographer Mehran Kazeroon had tagged it “banded beauty”. I had never heard of that before. ‘Whatever could that mean’, I thought. So of course, as any normal person would, I went ahead and typed “banded” into my trusted google search. We all know Google never lies. In the definitions provided, the word that resounded the most, was “marked”. Banded meant something that was marked with bands or strips of another thing with a different color/texture. But more than that, being banded means that you are identified with that thing. Now I could see more clearly what the photographer’s point was. But of course, since art is subjective, I can only share what banded beauty means to me, in the context of this picture.
I like to think that he(the photographer) didn’t merely refer to the pigmentation of their skin as the marks, but how society has “defined and identified” what beauty is supposed to be. Has set the standards and ideal, so to speak. So that If you in some shape or form deviate from the standard, you are banded as “different”, “weird” and sometimes even “ugly” . A label has been put on what beauty is supposed to be, and in this system, there is not much room for deviance. So you see, these beautiful persons that you see above, society would like for them to believe that their beauty is corrupted, it is marked with difference and scars and imperfections and flaws. Basically, that their beauty falls short of whole. When in fact, none of us can ever meet up with the unrealistic concocted ideal of beauty. NOT. EVEN. ONE
Okay, okay , you might be thinking “too deep” . But is it really? Why is it that we(in general) are so quick to downgrade someone’s beauty if we feel it doesn’t fit into a mold? Who made this mold? Why is there even a mold in the first place? We were all to be unique, so why are we even meant to conform to the same freakinggg standards of appearance. “She would’ve been attractive, but those fat thighs though”. “If only she were lighter skin” “Eww did you see his nose” and so on and so on. But, don’t you see, we all have flaws, imperfections, things about ourselves we are not necessarily so comfortable with now, heck, things that we are never ever going to be 100% comfortable. We all don’t fit into the mold in one way or the other. So why do we accept this unachievable mold in the first place??? (Does one anyone have an answer to this, I really want to know) And more than that, why do we bring down one another when we don’t think we fit into these ideal?
(Guysss, somewhere in between writing this article, I have become suddenly so passionate about this topic that I’ve found myself right now literally sitting here pounding away at my keys lol).
I’d be honest, it’s pretty hard not to view beauty from very biased goggles, it’s hard not to see things from the myopic perspective of the cultural context we are within. It’s pretty damn hard, and we can’t be perfect. We really can’t. But what we can do, is not just sit there and accept what they tell us- that beauty is in one shade, or one size or in one skin tone, or one race, or one eye shape or one whateverrrr. You cannot put a band to beauty and say “sorry if you’re not wearing this, you don’t belong. Okay bye bye” . We simply cannot. We are so much more than these labels.
I’m just going to end my little rant-article-thingy with this little piece I read from Ernest Hemmingway that honestly just resonates so well with what I’m trying to say.
“You are not your age,
Nor the size of clothes you wear,
You are not a weight,
Or the colour of your hair.
You are not your name,
Or the dimples in your cheeks,
You are all the books you read,
And all the words you speak.
You are your croaky morning voice,
And the smiles you try to hide,
You’re the sweetness in your laughter,
And every tear you’ve cried.
You’re the songs you sing so loudly,
When you know you’re all alone,
You’re the places that you’ve been to,
And the one that you call home.
You’re the things that you believe in,
And the people that you love,
You’re the photos in your bedroom,
And the future you dream of.
You’re made of so much beauty,
But it seems that you forgot,
When you decided that you were defined,
By all the things you’re not.”
You are banded beautiful baby xo