Up close

Long-time Shapelings know that we are big fans of PostSecret. If you haven’t been there yet, check it out — it’s an amazing project. I loved one of the secrets posted today:

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[A pointillist painting: Georges Seurat’s Esquisse d’ensemble [sketch for a larger work, presumably Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte], with these words handwritten over it: Up close, everyone looks less perfect. In that, though, they look human.]

43 thoughts on “Up close

  1. I think too that “Up close, everyone FEELS less perfect”, which means that everyone no matter how apparently “perfect” they are to our eyes may well be facing all manner of awful feelings about themselves that would amaze us if we knew. In short, none of us feel 100% secure about our appearances because we can’t control another’s opinion of us, which means we are always potentially exposed to judgements. If you remember that you can’t control what another person thinks of how you look, its actually quite freeing! It means you arent responsible, so basically if you don’t like what you see, look at someone else…and if you do like what you see, sit down and have a nice cup of tea and I’ll treat you to your favourite donut.

  2. The Post Secret guy came to my college on Friday. At least five of the secrets showed in the presentation were about fat and body hatred, and one of them is actually in the All-American Rejects video @ 0:34. Then he spent ~half the show on his anti-suicide work. His advice? If you have depressed friends, take away any pills/guns they may have, since people won’t kill themselves without easy means. …Yeah.

  3. I remember discovering the book when I worked at a bookstore over a year ago and wishing I could pull up a chair and flip through the whole thing. The few things I did see made me laugh and cry though. This one in particular is lovely. And so very true.

  4. I love PostSecret. It seems like there is something related to body acceptance or self acceptance every week.

  5. Up close, everyone FEELS less perfect

    This is one of the concepts of Buddhist philosophy that really resonates with me.

    I love that postcard and it is timely. I was on the MAC cosmetics website last night, watching some of their videos of makeup artists demonstrating stuff. The most interesting thing to me about the videos was that when they went in close and high-res to show an eyeliner technique or something, you could see that this gorgeous model’s skin was uneven and textured like everyone else’s instead of airbrushed like the still photos we see. It was cheering.

  6. I love this. I had actually never heard of this before but I am definitely going to look into it. It sort of reminds me of Operation Beautiful. There isn’t a book, but it spreads a simple sort of message about beauty.

    I don’t know if any of you have heard of it or been to the site, but it’s here: http://operationbeautiful.com/

  7. That’s beautiful.

    Then he spent ~half the show on his anti-suicide work. His advice? If you have depressed friends, take away any pills/guns they may have, since people won’t kill themselves without easy means. …Yeah.

    I 100% agree, of course, that it’s not that simple.

    Surprisingly, though, many suicides are impulsive — even if an individual entertains suicidal thoughts long before it. So taking away guns and pills is actually a very good deterrent, even though it doesn’t address the underlying problems at all.

  8. Surprisingly, though, many suicides are impulsive — even if an individual entertains suicidal thoughts long before it. So taking away guns and pills is actually a very good deterrent, even though it doesn’t address the underlying problems at all.

    Well, assuming the person was going to commit suicide with a gun or an overdose?

    His advice? If you have depressed friends, take away any pills/guns they may have, since people won’t kill themselves without easy means. …Yeah.

    That is pretty fucking simplistic and patronising. I always suspected that, while I love PostSecret, I wouldn’t like Frank much. That isn’t doing anything to convince me otherwise.

  9. Everyone looks less perfect in HD too – even the most beautiful people in the world. It’s pretty silly, but upgrading my tv has been like a revelation.

    YES. Watching things in HD makes people look so much more…human. Obviously people on TV are still the most conventionally attractive, thinnest people, but watching things in HD lets you see that they have pores and skin imperfections and crooked teeth/teeth with gaps and hairs that frizz and bellies that pooch out and panty lines and wrinkles.

    I remember when HDTV was catching on, I read an article about how the porn industry was negatively affected because HD porn (which someone apparently thought was a good idea) showed skin imperfections/cellulite/razor bumps much more than regular TV. For some reason, I didn’t mourn.

  10. If you get a chance to go to one of the traveling exhibits, definitely go. The sheer volume of secrets is overwhelming. And they also do a wall of local secrets from people in the area that have sent them in over the last month or so and put them up during the exhibition, which is really neat.

  11. @BeccaBoo-I was upset one day and was quietly crying in a nearly deserted coffee shop before an appointment in the neighborhood. When I came back from using the restroom someone had left a note on my table that read: you are beautiful and I know things will get better”
    I kept that note taped to my mirror until recently-it was a big help

  12. “His advice? If you have depressed friends, take away any pills/guns they may have, since people won’t kill themselves without easy means. …Yeah.”

    That is pretty fucking simplistic and patronising.

    No kidding. It’s not an exact parallel, but when I was a kid and very depressed, and worried that I was going to start cutting (’cause I really *really* wanted to) I gave my mom my little Swiss Army knife that I had in my room. She didn’t take it away, I gave it away. It was a very different dynamic, and an important difference I think. (And I never did start cutting.)

  13. [i]Up close, everyone looks less perfect. In that, though, they look human.[/i]

    This is so true. It’s one of the things that I find reassuring about going swimming at the community pool, I guess – most people don’t look like swimsuit models, and they’re all unique. Seeing all those variations on the human body makes the beauty standard seem like absurd nonsense.

  14. <oWell, assuming the person was going to commit suicide with a gun or an overdose?

    Of course there are other methods. Of course if someone is depressed/sick enough, that person will pursue other methods. But taking away the easiest means of suicide only makes sense.

    I certainly do not think that people commit suicides on a whim. I certainly believe that Frank should spend his time giving more thoughful, trageted, nuanced responses. All I meant to say is that taking away the obvious methods of suicide does have a marked impact on attempts/completions of suicide. I didn’t mean to belittle the severity of suicide — I’ve been at that point, and it’s terrible. My bad for not getting that across in the first comment.

  15. @BeccaBoo: Thanks for posting that link. I’ve never seen that site before and I think what they are trying to do is wonderful. It’s given me some ideas of my own.

  16. What happens if the person needs the pills you’d be taking away, in order to say, not get -worse-, or not be in lots of pain, or to not spend the entire night awake thinking about the end of the world, or to stay alive, or whatever….?

    My main exposure to PostSecret has been the spinoff/copycat online communities which seem to mainly be fail/drama/stupid. ;_;

  17. Taking away easy means to commit suicide is important (keeping a close eye on someone who is at risk is even more important). A lot of people have underlying depression or other issues that can spike or peak and lead to a suicide attempt, even when that person doesn’t think about killing her or himself every day. There are also people who are very determined to commit suicide, and who will find a way around simple obstacles. But for many, it is a crisis that will pass (and normal unhappy life resume) if they can’t easily go through with it at that moment. And then it’s a matter of anticipating the next crisis. I’m not for a moment suggesting this is a good way to live.

    Obviously this is far from ideal, having supportive friends and family, proper treatment and medication, and resolving underlying issues are all very important. But they’re not always all something a friend can provide, or that a potentially suicidal person will accept.

  18. But they’re not always all something a friend can provide, or that a potentially suicidal person will accept.

    Excellent point, aleks.

    I’m a little confused… are we saying that it’s bad advice to tell people to take suicidal friends’ means of self-harm away, or simply acknowledging that it won’t actually address the underlying problem or be effective in every case? I can see the second point. The first sounds to me like saying that it’s stupid to tell someone to take their drunk friend’s keys away, because that doesn’t solve their alcoholism, and not all drunks even own cars. I mean, that’s as may be, but it doesn’t change the fact that hiding a drunk person’s keys is a really fucking good in-the-moment move.

  19. The name of this painting is “Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte” (Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of Grande Jatte). “Esquisse d’ensemble” means “sketch for a larger work”—did you come across a mislabeled illustration somewhere?

  20. JP, it’s actually not “Un dimanche…” — the details are slightly different (if you look at the person in the red shirt on the bottom left, for instance). I found this one labeled as a related work, which I assume explains the working title-ness of it. I’ll add your translation to the caption, though — thanks.

  21. I adore Postsecret for secrets like that. I am actually going to hear the creator, Frank Warren, speak tonight at KSU and I am SO excited! This got me just a little more pumped for it. :D

  22. @ homitsu & Kristine : You’re very welcome. I’ll still a high school student and the bathrooms at the my school are actually very graffiti’d. I took a permanent marker to school and wrote ‘You are beautiful.’ on the top of all the mirrors. They’re still there. I don’t think the janitors can bare to take them down.

  23. JP, it’s actually not “Un dimanche…” — the details are slightly different (if you look at the person in the red shirt on the bottom left, for instance). I found this one labeled as a related work, which I assume explains the working title-ness of it.

    Ah! I didn’t look that carefully. There are quite a few sketches for the final painting: see here for some others.

  24. BeccaBoo, that’s a splendid thing to do :) At the local university, women write a lot on the bathroom walls (probably men too, but I don’t know for sure). There’s often whole conversations going on. I’m never sure if it’s wonderful or depressing, people who are physically so close come close emotionally only through anonymous writings on walls. But the next time I’m there, I might just do what you did. That’s positively inspiring.

  25. BeccaBoo, I love that idea! I really think it’s wonderful. I did find myself taken aback by the number of post-its that included the injunction “Smile!”, though…it felt to me like an internalization of the idea that women should be pleasantly smiling at all times, and that random strangers get to tell me how to rearrange my face (it’s not much better when women do it). Also, maybe, it feels like pressure to take the affirmation in, or let it affect you in a certain way – I’d love for it to be ok to be beautiful, know it, AND not smile (if that’s not where you’re at).

  26. The notes saying to smile remind me more of when I was depressed and people would helpfully suggest that I try being happy instead than of dudes complaining about women being inadequately decorative.
    Did you know that smiling can improve your mood? It’s true! And if you aren’t happy with your body, maybe you should try being happy with your body instead! Smile! That’ll fix everything! Or at least it’ll make you look happy, so nobody else has to put up with your negativity while you suffer in secret. That’s great!

    Being told to be happy is a sore spot for me. Smiling does not cure depression. And I have serious doubts about the cultural trend towards admonitions to love your body paired with increasingly unreachable beauty standards. I can’t help but feel like women are expected to overcome all the shit that’s heaped on them, and feel beautiful anyway. Like saying “I am not beautiful” is a personal failing- not failing to be beautiful, but failing to maintain a positive self image despite the hostile environment.
    Self esteem rocks, but it isn’t compulsory.

  27. and/but I still think it’s a lovely thing they’re doing…just important to be aware of that pitfall, I think, and offer loving and positive energy without the implied pressure to take it in in a certain way. Some days you’re just not going to feel beautiful or smiley and that’s totally fine too. I love the offering, I don’t love the instructions on whether and how it should be accepted.

  28. @Muz : None of my notes say anything like that. I tend to write compliments. I’ve written ‘You are beautiful’, ‘No one is more lovelier than you’, etc. etc. At school is the only place I’ve sharpie-marked, but I take Post-It notes to Borders or Malls if I feel like it. I’m even tempted to write up a bunch of note cards and cut them in fours (so not to waste paper if possible) and hand them out just casually as I walk around school.

    I have self-image issues and I can admit it, but having a reminder there (I keep a post-it note on my bathroom mirror at all times) that I didn’t always feel so down about myself perks me up and lets me get on with my routine.

  29. The only issue I’ve seen brought up with leaving notes saying “You are beautiful” is that it can be kind of scary, especially for people who’ve been stalked before. Just something to be aware of, I guess? I personally find it a little odd, just because I’m so tired of my body being the focus of everything (although I admit I have different issues, in that my body doesn’t quite WORK right). I’d rather be told, I dunno, I’m smart or I have good coping skills, something that I actually have something to do with, that I can put work into and not feel like it’s a waste of time.

    But that probably says more about me and my issues. :P Carry on!

    I love PostSecret, I just wish there were more of them posted each week.

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