Three naked graces arrived yesterday. I’d awaited anxiously for their delivery.
Before I can paint them, I have to sand down the surface because mannequins are coated with some industrial super-paint. Nothing sticks to it. This makes sense if you consider how abused they are during their lives. Shipped around, dressed, undressed, scratched and scraped. The super paint, whatever it is, makes them easy to clean, but a bitch to paint. Nothing sticks to it. Not even spray paint.
I never realized how ugly mannequins are. This is what we women are supposed to look like. This is today’s canon of beauty. Mannequins. They have monstrously long legs, toddler-sized torsos, male adolescent shoulders, and feet fit for a fairytail princess. Not the feet in the photo, those are mine.
Canons of beauty change through the ages and contemporary beauty canons differ from place to place.
The first time I understood what beauty canon meant, I was in Piazza Signoria admiring Giambologna and Ammanannti’s fountain of Neptune. Of course I’d never really looked at the nymphs. It was Neptune’s privates I admired. Those and his perfectly sculpted six pack abs. (I stole that line from a contemporary romance novel.)
My ex-husband, who stood next to me, said, “Guarda il collo di quello, è mostruoso.” Look at that one’s neck, it’s monstrous. He was looking at the nymphs. And probably watching me, while I stared at the rock hard privates.
We joked about the nymph coming to life. Rising from the marble basin and walking through the piazza. If she was human she would have been Frankenstein’s latest creation, the young Japanese tourists, who were photographing Neptune’s junk, would have run screaming, sure that Godzilla had returned.
Canons of beauty are not only monstrous mannequins. They touch everything and they evolve. What was beautiful yesterday is monstrous today.
Ever been to a dog show? Dogs have character. Man bred and selected them to work. Poodles were hunting dogs. They were shaved in certain places so they could move easily through the brush. Their coats were left long in specific places to keep them warm. In the advent of the dog show, dog breeds were selected for beauty and their looks were distorted.
Now I have some serious sanding to do so I can grace those three monsters.
One thought on “Three Graces and the Canons of Beauty”
How interesting that the mannequins are so ugly, and we are supposed to look like them…I’m so fascinated with your work, Angie. It always blows me away how talented you are!
P.S. I know that I said it before, but you can’t imagine how happy I am that you are writing again. <3
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