THIS IS MY CHILDHOOD in the Philippines! These kids are amazing and so cute.
My friends and I would hold beauty pageants like this too, rearranging our clothes to make strange shapes, and adorning ourselves with plants. I remember one time I picked a bunch of flowers and put them in a piece of cellophane I found in the trash and made a bouquet as a first prize for the winner.
Another time, we had a pageant by the river, and we were wearing makeshift swimsuits. Someone wore a plastic bag (literally - arms through the handles, 2 holes at the bottom for their legs). I was in the final 2, and the question was “Who would you marry? A rich man or someone who loves you?” My competitor chose the rich man, so they could have a better life (snap, snap, snap. that’s real). I chose someone who loves me because when someone loves you, you always feel rich (damn, that’s real too). Of course, I won.
It’s strange how a video can transport you back 20 years as if it were last week. Had I seen this video a few years ago when I was still in the military and uncomfortable with my femininity, I would have felt weirdly embarrassed. But now, I’m cheering on these kids (WERQQQQ!) like they deserve to be cheered.
Marina Abramovic - Art Must Be Beautiful (1975)
Kiam Marcelo Junio - Art Must Be Beautiful (Study), After Abramovic (2012)
Tonight, Kiam Marcelo Junio / Jerry Blossom will be re-performing Abramovic’s durational piece at Salonathon Presents: LEX-IC-A. In an effort to re-contextualize the celebrated artist’s feminist critique of the art institution and update it with current discourse around race, gender, and queer theory.
During the early and mid-1970s, Marina performed a series of works in which she “explored passive aggression, constructing the actions around her rather spectacular body.” She notes that Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful is one example of how, in the early years of performance art, female artists used their own bodies to challenge the institution of art and the notion of beauty. Marina has said in an interview that during the 1970s, “if the woman artist would apply make-up or put [on] nail polish, she would not have been considered serious enough.” Through this performance, says Stokić, Marina comments on “the commodification of art and artist by critiquing conventions of and demands for female beauty in art and contemporary culture.”
Jerry Blossom, for my new series, Model Minority, which explores and complicates intersections of colonialism, privilege, standards of beauty, westernization, and the performativity of race and gender, specifically from a Filipino American immigrant perspective.
EVERYBODY’S FREE TO WEAR SUNSCREEN.
“enjoy your body, use it every way you can. don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it. it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own”
So much of what I’ve learned in life is in this video. I haven’t heard this song in years, and it resonates so deeply now more than ever. I’ve been trying to live my life with these principles, and it’s wonderful to see and hear them.
My good friend just sent it to me, and it reminded me of the beauty of life and the power of now.
Enjoy this and keep it in mind for the coming new year.
Good looking people get paid more, do less jail time and have more sex than ugly people, and beautiful people get all that but even more so, and if you try to say ugly people don’t exist because ‘everyone is beautiful’ I’d ask you to take it up with Sartre (were he not dead), who not only believed in ugliness as a definite trait but attributed much of his philosophy to his own lazy-eyed, freakshow face and near midget status yet still managed to date feminist icon and all-around social theory genius (and sometime lesbian pedophile) Simone de Beauvoir for years and years and years, not to mention blow minds on the daily, even now, 30 odd years after his death.
There are worse things in the world than being ugly, and most of the great minds of every generation got their thinking and writing done because they weren’t beautiful enough to waste their nights having meaningless sex with other gorgeous layabouts. Very few, if any, renowned scientists or philosophers were beautiful.
All people are somewhat interesting, and most of us have rich and varied intellectual lives or great stores of compassion or other attributes that, once discovered, can make us very wonderful and occasionally beautiful to those who know us, but some people are just plain beautiful, physically, in the fucking face, and that is neither a good nor a bad thing (although studies show it’s usually good for them). It’s just a fact.
(More to read when you click the link above)
I’ve been having this conversation with someone recently, and it’s gotten me thinking about what it means to be beautiful, attractive, or ugly. We can all say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and perhaps this is true in the deepest, truest extent. But here’s my theory, which I was explaining to a friend last night:
We create our own worlds, and we create this one too. Our minds and selves are universes trapped in physical form. Where does a thought go when you forget it, but somewhere in the wide black space of your own existence?
But we have also all corroborated on creating this physical manifestation of a world we live in. The rules of physics exist because someone thought it, and we have all since agreed upon its reality. This goes for everything, even beauty. There are standards of beauty, which may change from generation to generation, but the concept of it remains the same. And it is why, as linked text mentions, beautiful people receive more privilege. They fit certain standards to which we ourselves have subscribed.
So what happens when you don’t fit these standards of beauty? I would consider myself a fine example for this. I’m short, bald, and I am not an owner of six-pack abs. I do not fit the criteria for what the Western world considers as objectively beautiful - and here we can also agree that different cultures have different standards as well. But in this increasingly globalized world, the Western standards seem to be winning out. However, I’ve learned to love myself regardless. I’ve learned to cultivate other qualities that make me a good, interesting, and perhaps somewhat attractive person.
Something that used to frustrate me as a gay man is how shallow of a culture “the Gays” seem. It always comes down to looks and to another degree, race. Years ago, while browsing through Craigslist personals, or on Adam4Adam, I would lose count of how many times I would read “no fems, fatties or Asians” or something to that degree. Do you know how demoralizing that is? Of course you can brush it away and simply say, “Wow, what an asshole.” But it doesn’t erase the fact of its existence. To be told that you are unwanted cuts to deep degrees, and makes you question yourself, no matter how much you’ve built yourself up. The ego will take a fall.
So is there a solution to this? Depends on what the problem is. For me, the issue was that I felt like a powerful, beautiful, interesting person inside, only limited by this body I was born in. What I’ve done is try to stay true to myself, find people who are willing to corroborate with me in creating a world in which our inner selves speak more to our beauty as humans than how we fit certain criteria, forced upon us by the masses, and to which we, as I’ve mentioned, have subscribed, as well. Unsubscribe! Write your own standards of beauty. Live your own reality. When you can believe in your own truth, it translates to how you operate in the larger sphere, and people take notice. I’m living this philosophy daily.