an installation about our obsession
with beauty and aging
What was once a piece of your cheek soaped and moisturized and stroked by lovers is later a slob of discarded flesh in an incinerator a bag.
--Joanne Broscoe, “Skin”
Our society has unrealistic ideals and an obsession with women’s aging and beauty. We promote and buy into a beauty image possessed only by a small minority of women: fashion models and movie stars.
As a result, most girls and women feel self-conscious and unhappy with their own individual beauty.
I think of a memorable image of an Afghani girl on the cover of National Geographic. Her striking blue eyes and unique face are expressive of an
individual ... a person. A fashion model appears as a mannequin or a doll, some time to project fantasies upon and not be looked at as a human being
with thoughts and feelings. Marilyn Monroe is a tragic example.
For a growing number of the aging baby boomer generation the question of a facelift is becoming more and more important. Role models who are comfortable with their aging looks are missing in the media and fashion/beauty industry. Images of perfectly young and beautiful women are pumped via TV, film, magazine, and the Internet into our conscious and subconscious mind, robbing us of the right to our own identity.
We see images of Cher, who has eradicated aging from her face and body in an attempt to look like a 30-year old woman. Paradoxically Cher is a strong woman, a survivor who has created a unique and powerful life for herself.
Why does she feel she must stand still at the age of 30?
What kind of expectations to be projected onto celebrities and what are we afraid of?
Our society perceives aging as a failure. We value youth, not wisdom.
Now it’s a badge of courage to refuse cosmetic surgery at a certain age.
Patients after cosmetic surgery experience a euphoria similar to a drug high.
They can become addicted and want more and more surgery, expecting it to solve personal problems.
An external solution for an internal problem is not the answer.
It is the refusal to grow spiritually and emotionally into the next stage of life.
In my installation, I use life casts in wax of various women’s faces ranging in age and ethnicity. I covered them with a generic beauty face mask of plastic, produced by a machine, to show what it would mean if the majority succumbed to the demands of our beauty ideal. We would lose our face, our individuality, our humanity. Our faces would be cut into generic patterns like the dressmaking patterns one can buy in Walmart.
I illustrate this with 2 giant pattern maps that show the cutting lines for various facelifts and with another piece called “Stretching it.”
“Stretching it” shows how the skin of a woman’s face is distorted when it is forced out of Its natural shape.
In the end, I ask you to look into a black mirror reflecting on your own face while reading the poem by Alice Walker on the mirror
Here is a different version of your face.
What are your views about it?
George Orwell said by 50 we get the face we deserve.
Do you want a map of your life or virtual reality?
Lift the masks, consider the faces below, and open your heart and mind to a different kind of beauty.