Impossibly Beautiful

One of the basic (but unspoken) tenets of the Beauty Standard is that famous women (and men) must mask all indication of their humanity. No laugh lines, no frown lines, no blemishes, no evidence of aging, no having too much hair there or too little hair here, no fat, no sag, no varicose veins, no moles, no marks, no crooked toes, no imperfections no flaws no scars no errant freckles even if they are beautiful because no deviation from the arbitrary standards of Perfection.

It's a heinous enough expectation for the cover of a magazine, when an intern with Photoshop will be tasked with clumsily erasing all trace of documentation that a mortal human being exists behind the carefully constructed veneer. But these days, when half the population's walking around with an HD camera and a high-speed internet connection in their pockets, suddenly celebrities are expected to not be human even in person, even in extreme close-up.

Hence: BuzzFeed's "10 Scary Celebrity Close-Ups." I'm not going to provide a direct link, because fuck giving them traffic for that; you can find it easily enough if you're so inclined. It's a gallery consisting of extreme close-up images of nine women, with one close-up of Iggy Pop, as if everyone's holding Iggy Pop and the latest Hollywood ingenue to the same beauty standards.

This picture of Zooey Deschanel—whose indefatigable service as every hipster dude's Manic Pixie Dream Girl is now being rewarded with the predictable sneering backlash once the dudes who drooled over her discovered she had the temerity to not, as it turns out, be their private property—is typical of the gallery:

image of the center of Zooey Deschanel's face in extreme close-up

Granted, the grey bits rattling 'round my brainpan have been freed from The Matrix, so my perspective is very stupid unfun bonerkilling different than the average gazer upon this image, but I don't see something "scary." What I see is proof of Zooey Deschanel's humanity. (Not that I needed any.) What I see is a tear in the page of the fairy tale of the Impossibly Beautiful. What I see is permission for women to give themselves a fucking break.

I also, for the record, see a beautiful woman. But my opinion of Zooey Deschanel is irrelevant. What matters is that there's no such thing as an objective beauty standard.

And then there's this: It's incomprehensibly fucked up that evidence of a woman's humanity is considered "scary," by any means of observation. But this contempt for visible humanness in close-up reveals something extremely ugly about the nature of objectification: People who want to fuck Zooey Deschanel express repulsion at seeing her face up close. "Eww—you got intimacy all up in my remote objectification! Gross!"

The real problem with these images, and their insistent revelation of humanness, is not that they are "scary." It is that they challenge the viewer to embrace the humanity of women.

Which I suppose might be terrifying, if you're not used to thinking of women as human.

Enough already. Enough.

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