Let's Face It
Newsflash! I have a cold sore/sun blister on my lower lip. So what I hear you cry. Hardly headline material. Oh yes, it is! I am in good company. Victoria Beckham has one too, hers is on her top lip, which perhaps makes it more newsworthy. She is quoted as telling all her friends she feels ‘ugly’. The newspapers in their medical wisdom state it’s the effect of too much partying. The poor girl is worn out. It is only a temporary loss of her looks due to burning the candle at both ends. I wish mine was due to that, I could use some nightlife in this deathly quiet Italian village.
The obsession with image is open season for the newspapers and magazines this summer. Headlining many publications last week ‘Jordan “I’ve ruined my looks”.’ Now I have to admit that I wouldn’t recognise Jordan in a crowd of two, but the accompanying photograph shows a youngish woman with a face that would be more likely to sink rather than launch a thousand ships. It would however, have puffer fish thinking they’d found a new mate. Comparing before and after photographs, this once very attractive, albeit in a very made-up way, girl has paid thousands of pounds to look like a laughing stock Except she can’t laugh, rigor mortis has set in.
Perhaps the only woman who can get away with a rictus smile is La Gioconda. Painted in the sixteenth century by Leonardo da Vinci and more commonly known as Mona Lisa, this monumental iconic image of womanhood has been the subject of speculation throughout the art world for over four centuries. And we’re not talking ‘has she/hasn’t she had botox’ here. Her enigmatic smile has drawn millions of glances from the public, making her the most famous face ever.
Shakespeare, in describing Cleopatra, famously wrote ‘Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety. Here he was discussing a woman not only in terms of beauty, but also her free spirit, her originality. Cleopatra was not one to follow the latest fad, she was a strong, resolute woman who had men falling at her feet.
Painters and poets have always revered women’s beauty, but they also often try to represent more than just a pretty face. The poem below by W.B.Yeats is a tribute to womanhood. The changing face mentioned in his second verse is to be celebrated, not something to be ridiculed for being surgically enhanced. How I should love to be written about so lovingly and honestly.
When You are Old
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.