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The Life Lifter: An Ode to the Nose
Everyone has at least one body part that doesn't exactly thrill them. Mine is my calves. I have wide, chunky calves—hunks of muscle the width of some women's thighs, made for running marathons or surging up mountains (neither of which I use them for). Each fall, as I attempt to buy boots—not the galoshes type, the flattering, elegant, go-to-work or go-to-dinner models—I have to endure the raised eyebrow of more than one skinny-legged saleswoman as she struggles and fails to zip them over my below-the-knee bulge. I know I'm supposed to laugh about my calves and accept them as my inheritance from my dad and grandmother, who handed them down, but I can't. They remind me of big canned hams strapped to the back of my shins.
Now along comes Masha Turchinsky a creative producer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art who professes her love for hawkish noses and charts their present throughout history using different pieces of art from the museum's collection. Rather then hide her family's less-than-perfect facial trait, she celebrates it for reasons you'll understand from her video:
Her analysis of J.P. Morgan's approach to his nose ("He chose to emphasis it. This is a powerful man who makes sure we look at his face") led me to briefly muse to how to deal with my calves in a more original and up front way: Paint them red? wear short shorts? Give them sassy, lovable nicknames like Lois and Sherri?
What really gives me pause for thought, however, is Turchinsky's comment about Mary Cassatt's Lady at the Tea Table. "It's interesting" she says, "That you could like everything else except for a nose—and that could render it [the painting] unacceptable." I can't go so far as to say that my dislike of my calves make me want to stick my whole body away in a closet, the way that happened to Cassatt's painting, but I do suspect that fixating on any one part of anything—be it anatomical or artistic—can and does miscolor your perspective of the whole.
For example, the one thing I noticed about the lady in Lady at the Tea Table was her clear, alive blue eyes, and how the light in them highlights the color of the wall behind her. Her nose, to me, was a blob. Her nose was just a piece of her face. Perhaps the key to self-acceptance is treating our legs—and the rest of us—with the same courtesy as we'd give a painting at the Met—by looking for the detail that's beautiful instead of the one that's not, a detail that, in the final analysis, has the exact same power as one that's not, because it can overwhelm and illuminate the entire picture.
Learning to love the gap in your teeth (and other supposed flaws)
Living a mirror-free life
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