What is beauty? A combination of qualities, such as shape, color or form that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight. A beautiful or pleasing thing or person, in particular. But what is it really? I live in a world where I’m never told I’m beautiful, I never see myself on the pages of a magazine, or on a billboard somewhere, with millions of unsuspecting yet adoring fans aspiring to be like me for all the wrong reasons, and perhaps a few of the right ones. I used to wonder what beauty meant if I was never called beautiful. And then I realized something, I live in a world where an average sized woman who happens to be extremely beautiful is considered a plus sized model. Modeling in a world where they need a separate category, because they failed to live up to the expectations of the 16-year-old beauty on the New York catwalk. And then, I questioned everything.
One day an artist approached me and told me he wanted me to be a model. I thought he must be joking, only beautiful people are models, and that’s what I told him. He protested and insisted, he wanted to show me how beautiful I really was, questioning the standard convention and praying, working toward a conceptual resurrection and diversification of that notion we often use to praise someone or something, that thing called beauty. The first day I showed up to the studio, limbs mangled from atrophy, my body disproportionate, or so I thought. But then I met people who were just like me, some of them even suffered a deeper emotional atrophy than the one my legs had suffered from non-use. They too had metal as an extension of themselves enabling them to move freely throughout the world, and as he took our measurements, our pictures, and a snapshot of our souls. I knew. I was beautiful.
As I watched him work, on custom-made manikins made to look like the other people that I knew looked like me, I knew what he wanted the world to see, to question their petty idolatry and to see that they, in and of themselves are okay, worthy of being free. Unbound by the chains of an oppressive media regime. That they, like me, possess that ever elusive quality, undefinable and intangible… The thing we all strive for, beauty.