Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Beauty: Semantic Rules I Use in This Blog

Beauty is a very strong carrot that is confusingly thrown into a pot of conflicting societal dictates, stirred together, refined into glitter and blasted into the faces of young girls, from age 4 onwards (if not earlier). It's an extremely subjective analysis often portrayed as analytically objective by taste makers and professionals who have their own agendas for owning "style", "fashion" and "the next look". For many, this is fun, chasing a look, attempting a new style, the season's colors. And for many it is an arduous and repulsive chore to iron, diet, pinch, prod and attempt to emulate the forms that some people just naturally look like.

Rather than dive into why all this "Beauty" consciousness and material pursuit is a dangerous or bad thing, for the sake of this article, let's talk about it in these terms.
  • "Beauty" is a goal of aesthetic presentation that is pleasing to the eye of the beholder and those around them. 
  • "Style" is personally identified and executed that represents the aesthetic choices of an individual. 
  • "Fashion" is an externally dictated, aspect of potential style that is agreed upon by mutual consensus of a group. 
  • "Costume" is dressing as something that you are not, in a recognizable (i.e. not subtle) way, to mimic or represent an exaggerated "otherness" 
Costume may seem a little off topic, but go with me on this tangent for a moment. Costume is an often childish pursuit that is generally looked down upon in "fashionable" circles, except during specific events, Masquerades, Halloween, Carnival, Themed Parties, Some Fashion Shows (Alexander McQueen and Betsey Johnson rode/ride that line pretty close)...

Costume is about seeking out something that is performative and mythic beyond style and fashion, this is why "National Costume" is powerful: it represents a cultural identity of a group that is easily identifiable and when worn, puts a person in a totally different context, they are part of the long cultural history of their land and are representing it to others.

It's also why things like LARPing and Cosplay have such powerful resonance for fans. When you can physically put on an item to become part of a narrative or legend that resonates with you it creates a new type of engagement and sense of one's ownership in that fictional world. It helps one act in accordance with the world's rules, and understand the nuances of how a character feels: literally walking in their shoes.
These shoes are actually quite heavy, and hard to keep shiny.

Not Everyone can pull of a Metroid this Bad Ass; for instance, Metroid: Other M.
So, to review

Costume: Represents something other than yourself.
Fashion: Consensus Based

Style: What you put on your own body by your own choice.
Remember, even if someone else picks it out for you, you have to say yes.

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