Years ago, when I was traveling in London, in the National Museum I stumbled upon this fantastic painting, Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time (also called An Allegory of Venus and Cupid and A Triumph of Venus) by Florentine painter Agnolo Bronzino. I ended up sitting on a bench in front of it for a long time, just feeling the chills, the slight vibrations in my eyes, taking in the diaphanous quality of the skin tones that you cannot convey in any photograph. The dimensions, layers, iridescence is downright sexy. It makes you feel naughty while also in awe of its brilliance. This painting was done in 1546, I would imagine a more athletic, broader shouldered, thinner and taut woman if painted now.
Sometimes I cruise around instagram to see who’s “blowin up the net” with their beauty. It is always a little weird since I grew up with an au natural flower child mom and I was a 20-something in the 90’s when makeup and alternative fashion was as far as most people went to convey a certain image or attract their target audience mate. I have been known to pack on the red lipstick and cat eyes, feeling no shame there.
But it strikes me, with mixed emotions, that 27 years later the proliferation of early-age plastic surgery and available photo editing makes people look a bit like cartoons. How does one maintain that image when in intimate situations, or does everyone just avoid intimate situations and live solely through images? Youth and beauty, it is chained to an unattainable standard that will have to be crushed in order for people to thrive. Will the natural beauty movement happen again? Predictions say yes…..let’s hope that there will be more already-perfect 18 year olds spending money on school instead of silicone. See video below:
Rotari, 18th century
Titiaan, 16th century