“By the way, I love that you dyed your hair blond. It makes you look so cute.”
I’ve heard this line (or variations upon it) for years. Cut my hair, style it, dye it. It all amounts to the same thing: I’m just so gosh darn cute now.
Cute. That damned word. It’s the best I ever get.
I will never be a classic ideal of beauty. I came to terms with this long ago. My features are not fine enough. My figure is imperfect. My personality is offbeat and often grating. But this is not something that really bothers me, because I have never aspired to be a great beauty. And also, because I think the overall idea of what makes a person beautiful to be rubbish.
So galleons… do you want to know what makes a person truly beautiful to me?
Well, whether you want to know or not, I’m about to tell you.
First, we’re going to take a detour. A detour that seems completely unrelated, but bear with me, because it’s going to be very important. A detour to science.
Energy is one of the big boys of physics. Hell, one of the most famous equations of all time, Einstein’s E=mc^2, is intimately concerned with energy. Energy is the ability to perform work. It’s a measurable quantity. It exists in a variety of forms.
Two of these forms are our primary concern right now. They are also both forms of energy that you should be familiar with. Potential energy and kinetic energy.
Potential energy is, simply put, stored energy. Imagine you pull a spring to the right. Why does the spring recoil back to the left once you let it go? When you pulled the spring to the right, the energy it took to stretch the spring was stored in the spring itself. Upon releasing the spring, the potential energy is converted into kinetic energy, and the spring snaps back into place.
So… what’s kinetic energy? Kinetic energy is the energy of an object in motion. It’s the energy of the spring snapping back to the left. It’s the energy of a car speeding down the road. And as the object slows down, that kinetic energy is converted back into potential energy to be stored in the object (remember that conservation of energy laws are in effect in our universe- energy can’t just vanish).
Sorry for the elementary science lesson. I’m not trying to be condescending (I’m aware that you know this already). I’m just making sure these two concepts are fresh in your mind.
Because now it’s time to get back to our real subject matter: beauty.
There are many types of beauty in the world. The beauty of a sunrise is not the same as the beauty of the tight spiral of a perfect pass to the end zone. But there is a grace and loveliness in both. And in many other things.
But there is one type of beauty that is truly unique for me- the beauty of people. It’s not just a different shade of beauty, but a whole new dimension.
You will never hear me call someone “beautiful” when I first see them. From me, the word beautiful (just like the word love) is earned. But not in the manner you might think.
See, if you think this is heading toward some talk of the importance of inner beauty, I’m going to shut you down right now. Inner beauty is a facet, as is outer beauty. But that’s all they are. They are parts of a whole. I think a person can have a lovely personality but not be beautiful. They can be smoking hot and not be beautiful. They can have both a great personality and a rockin’ bod and still not be beautiful.
I think there are two primary types of beauty for people: potential beauty and kinetic beauty.
Potential beauty is able to be captured in a box and labeled. It is a pleasing face, a sparkling personality, a dazzling smile. Yes, it applies to both inner and outer beauty. It is the type of beauty most people acknowledge. Sonnets are written about the faces of potential beauties. Their vivacious wit is praised. These are the people that stun us into puddles of lust. These are also the people who, while plain of feature, seem to have their personality shine through their smile. Inner beauty (supposedly) always manages to come through. In the end, we can see them both. We can recognize them both. To most, these are the beautiful people of the world.
But there is another type of beauty that most people don’t regularly notice. Kinetic beauty. It’s the beauty of the person in motion. But it’s more than just the grace of a skilled dancer. It’s more subtle than that. A kinetic beauty has many of the same qualities of the potential beauty. They might be physically attractive, caring, intelligent, funny… or they might be a little plainer of face and character. Kinetic beauty takes the bits that potential beauty highlights and adds them to a riot of movement. Kinetic beauty is in the hands of a pianist and the awkward gait of the lanky. It is in the twirling of a bottle of Coke and the hoisting of a backpack. It is in the wrinkling of a nose and the delicate arching of an eyebrow.
Kinetic beauty is the only type of beauty I really recognize in people. I watch them walk and gesticulate. The swift arcing of an arm through the air, the elastic stretching of their lips as they form words, the stutter in their step as they trip over the curb, the interplay of tendons beneath the skin of their hands as they type a paper. These people are often flawed. They are imperfect. Their attractiveness is marred by something that society deems unworthy of beauty. But to me, in their every motion, in their every breath, these people are beautiful.
Not everyone is beautiful. I don’t believe that. I think everyone is interesting, in their own right, be it mentally or physically. Some are interesting in the fact that they are a right pain in the ass or seem extraordinarily dull. But there is something to be noticed about everyone. That does not equate to beauty.
I will say that people are cute. That they are hot. That they are pretty, charming, intelligent, amusing. I will say they are attractive (despite how dry the word is to many, I think it’s my favorite for stating that I find a person physically pleasing).
But it is only to a few that I will say, “You are beautiful.” And I would never do so casually. I want them to know, you see. I want them to understand the significance of the word. From me.
There is only one truly beautiful person I know who I have never told. I have told him he’s attractive, which is true. But attractive isn’t good enough for me. I wouldn’t be so irritatingly hung up on the boy if he was merely attractive. Or funny. Or intelligent. Sure, he is these things, I suppose. To me, at least. I know that some find him aggravating, crude, rude, and arrogant. That he grates as often as he charms. But I just don’t think any of these people, whether they like him or not, really understand that he is beautiful. That his every motion is like poetry. His beauty is kinetic and fierce.
He is not the only truly beautiful person I’ve known. The first boy (and probably only, to this point) to care about me was a truly beautiful person. I told him that the first time we kissed. I’d fought so hard against being with him. I thought I couldn’t possibly deserve him. But oh, he was beautiful.
I realized recently that the first person I told about their beauty was a girl. Despite never desiring a physical relationship with her (still not a fan of the vagina), I think I was half in love with this girl (for more than the fact that she was the first person I met who could quote Invader ZIM with me). Her name was Kasey. She was two years older than me and in all my art classes. Everything about her was fluid, graceful, elegant, and so very alive. Every twitch, every stretch, every flick of her paint brush called attention to how extraordinarily vivid this girl was. Her eyes slanted up at the corners and crinkled delicately in amusement at the drop of a hat. She laughed with her whole body. Incidentally, she also had a labret piercing, and I think my near idolization of her was what made me want one for so long (I secretly still want one, but think that a facial piercing would dash any serious career chances I had against the rocks of conventionalism and middle-aged disapproval).
Anyway, I saw her again last week. She’s still beautiful.
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It’s a truth I hold to. The people I find beautiful might seem commonplace to others. I think that’s especially true of kinetic beauties. Because it’s not just the elegant movements that make a person beautiful- it’s the stumbles, the halting gait, the inelegant taking of the stairs two or three at a time. Kinetic beauties have flaws and these flaws are embraced and celebrated in their movements, in their very beings. They might be insecure in their minds, because society is a bitch like that and warps everyone, but they don’t realize that their every movement, while maybe not the most confident, both highlights and hides their faults. The flaws are acknowledged, celebrated, and then forgotten.
But beauty is a subjective thing. As it is in art and music and nature. We all find different things beautiful. Some things are more universal than others. They appeal to a wider crowd. More people think Degas’ Dance Class is beautiful than Pollock’s Lavender Mist. More people will find certain types of people beautiful. These tend to be the potential beauties. There is a universality to potential beauty that is lacking in kinetic beauty.
I think that’s why I tend to gloss over potential beauties and focus on the kinetic beauties. Kinetic beauty is intimate and unique.
As I stated earlier, I will never be a beauty. Let me rephrase that. I will never be a potential beauty. And that is fine.
But because kinetic beauty, due to its nature, is even more subjective than potential beauty… I suppose there’s a chance that, to someone, I could be a kinetic beauty.
I would like that.
I have been told I was beautiful only three times in my life. And none of them really count. The first was a little girl who randomly accosted me on my way home from school a few weeks before my senior prom. The second was my father, the first time I returned home from college having shed my goth clothing. The third was a boy quoting a TV show at me. None of them were real.
So yes, I suppose I’m enough of a woman to desire to be considered truly beautiful just once in her life. That would be enough for me to withstand the constant barrage of “cutes” that get tossed my way. Though, really, I don’t think that’s just a female thing. I think everyone wants to be considered beautiful (even if, for some bizarre reason, the word seems to have a feminine undertone… which is irritating, because men can be beautiful as well) by someone.
Maybe it’s a power thing. Beauty is power.
Then again, I think everything is a power thing.
It’s funny- I came up with my personal idea of beauty years ago. And ever since I joined Facebook, the phrase “kinetic beauty” has sat among my interests. And nobody has ever asked me about it. Truth be told, this is the first time I’ve really sat down and explained this term to anyone.
This was an odd post for me, but I’ve been in a queerly romantic mood as of late. My current reading selections can attest to that. I figure it’s not terribly harmful to me. It’s a quiet mood for me, one of the few times my temper mostly abates. It’s unusual for me to be in this mood for more than a few hours, so the fact that it’s lasted days has me puzzled. But, as I said, it’s not hurting me. In fact, it has a tendency to leave me feeling contented.
Also, everything in my life starts to take on a poetic sheen. Which means I tend to write more. Which is always good.
I’ll be working nights from now on (it’s permanent and it’s awesome). Huzzah.
On my last day of day shift (yesterday), I had an interesting conversation with a coworker. Her name is Eunice. On my way into work, she trots up alongside me and starts talking, apparently oblivious to my “I’m-off-the-clock-and-don’t-really-want-to-talk-with-you” semi-scowl and the headphones in my ears. Irritated, I removed the headphones in time to hear her asking me if I drove from Greybull (an hour long commute) every day. I wearily nodded, my thoughts still elsewhere. Which led to this:
Eunice: Does it bother you?
Eunice: The distance- does it bother you?
Me: *quiet for a moment* Every day.
In the end, though, I don’t think we were having the same conversation.
And now, having given you all something to think about/puzzle over/shrug and ignore, I depart for the evening.