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No Perfect Face

I was glad to find an older Buzzfeed list on “The 28 Most Ridiculous Celebrity Face Mashes Of 2013” because the fall 2014 Jennifer Lawrence/Emma Watson face meld had made me vaguely uncomfortable.

Let me explain. Season 3 Episode 15 of “Modern Family” has a scene where Cam and Mitchell use a computer to generate an image of what their biological baby might look like (the two have an adopted daughter). Hilariously, they are horrified by what appears on the screen, causing Cam to slam the computer shut without the audience ever seeing what was produced.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet as Mitch and Cam

Face mashes often look freaky so I understand why they’re so funny and so prevalent. Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Watson are both famous for playing YA book characters, so I can see their similarities and why their massive overlapping following might want to combine the two into the perfect kickass YA heroine machine. However, I don’t think their face mash was about making a kickass woman. It wasn’t about humor, either. It was about creating the most physically beautiful woman ever, from two other women who apparently weren’t good enough.

This reminds me of the frequent comment made to or about interracial couples–“Your baby would be so beautiful.” I did not understand why this comment was so strange until I started working as a substitute teacher. Moving between 30 or so schools I met classrooms of kids of every race, from Hmong, Karen and Somali immigrant kids to Caucasian-American, African-American, Mexican-American–and literally every mix in between.

 Photo by jdurham

If you “compliment” a couple by saying they will produce a child with “perfect” looks, really you’re holding them to an imaginary standard that only exists in your head, because their kids could come out looking any which way—and they will be perfect even if one sibling is lighter-skinned, another has textured hair and a third is pretty short for her age.

There’s no predicting these things, so why do we try? One reason could be humanity’s unending hunt for perfection. The Greeks did it in the past and in the modern day we are still obsessed with it.

Another, more probable, reason could be plain old racism and sexism. The lighter a child’s skin (with a nice “tan,” of course), the more “classically beautiful.” The prettier and younger a woman, the more valuable.

Speaking of diversity: I searched “actress” and only got white women… (photo of Virginia Dale in Holiday Inn)

Do we really want to all be the same perfect, pass-for-white skin color? Do we want to have just a few identical actresses on screen? Probably not, because we’d miss out on a lot of amazing people. So use face mashes for humor and not for impossible standards. Ask interracial couples how they met, don’t comment on their future children. Seek out diversity. We’ll end up with something a lot cooler than perfection.

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4 Comments »

  1. Nice article! I don’t mind a search for ideal beauty, as long as it stays in the realm of art. Carve a bust, paint a portrait, sing a song, write a story in search of ideal beauty, and I’m along for the ride. Try to make it a reality in flesh and blood, and I’m totally against it. Women (and men) are fascinating people, and get only more fascinating with each scar, wrinkle, and age spot.

    Like

  2. The standards society puts on everyone is ridiculous. I personally like when everyone is different. Different skin tones, eye shapes, hair color…I always joke and say mix it up. Mash ups are silly and good for entertainment purposes.

    Liked by 1 person

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