Over the past few days I’ve been processing the feedback I’ve gotten from my friends and readers regarding the questions about self-love I posed here and here. One point of consensus regarding loving one’s self is that loving the entirety of one’s whole being, inside and out, is an inherent quality of true love of self.
How is it possible to love those things we are taught to be ashamed of? How do we learn to stop despising our weaknesses and punishing ourselves for our wrong choices and actions? How do we stop seeing the scars, wounds, and unseemly marks on our psyches, souls, and physical selves and instead see and recognize the beauty of being completely who we are?
I watched a modern, cliched take on Beauty and the Beast, Beastly. Mary Kate Olsen as Kendra, a modern “Emo Witch” who turns the tables on the shallow pretty boy, Kyle (Alex Pettyfer), son of a media king, is not a bad call, although a far cry from the overweight character as written by Alex Flinn. Neil Patrick Harris is the epitome of true self acceptance and the ironic voice of wisdom as the blind tutor, Will.
Kyle is the stereotypical fair haired, moneyed, beautiful and powerful popular reigning king of the crowd in his private school. We first hear him speaking to a crowd of his fellow
sycophants students, many of whom are waving mask like cut outs of his face on sticks as he is telling all the less than beautiful people who missed out on the looks lottery to “embrace the suck” and accept that pretty people have it better. He goes on to blatantly state his only interest in wanting to be elected for the position he wants is sheer self interest and he should be voted in because of his looks, money, and popularity.
He gets resounding cheers as Kendra exits the scene, casting him a withering look.
A few more predictable scenes and we get to the key moment when he makes the wrong choice and pays the price:
Bald, scarred, tatted, embedded hardware in the center of his face and with seemingly open, unhealed gashes strategically placed on his face and neck, pretty boy, Kyle becomes Hunter, the beast. His dad bails and essentially banishes him to an under furnished mausoleum across the river and installs a blind tutor to live in and become his surrogate parent.
The tat that takes the place of his left eyebrow consists of stylized letters spelling out the word, “suck.” Nice bit of irony, that.
As cliched and predictable as the movie is (I hope the book was better), there is still something universally compelling in the story, this thought that if the ugliness that resides within could be seen for what it is on the outside, we would be unloved, ostracized, anathema.
Somehow, though, I’m beginning to wonder if the point of the story is not about finding someone to see beyond our ugliness or even learning to see past our own self-concern of surface appearances. Is it possible that this tale is ultimately about learning to love and accept ALL aspects of ourselves, to embrace our suck?
To recognize that the scars, the gaping wounds, the marks and the modifications left on us by others and our own choices are just as much part of the beauty of being we as the nice and palatable things which make us feel acceptable to ourselves and the rest of the world?
What if Beauty isn’t another human being who is able to see beneath the twisted and distorted person we see when we face ourselves in the mirror of our minds? What if Beauty’s Love isn’t the love of another person who loves in spite of our bitter and beastly selves?
What if this is telling us that Beauty sees us in our entirety, accepts the whole beings we are, and has such an overwhelming love that embraces the depth and breadth of our most unlovable selves in the same way it does the “acceptable” selves we show to the world? What if this is about reaching and seeing into our deepest selves and recognizing the fullness of our beauty through the lens of truly unconditional love?
Will: Defying expectations, “Blindie” keeps up his bitchin’ sense of style. A holdover from my seeing days.
Hunter: Point being, no matter what, how you look matters.
Will: Point being, it’s not about how others look at me, it’s about how I look at myself.