Conventional beauty doesn’t mean shit. Jackson Bliss explores the importance of “idiosyncratic beauty” and its relationship to love
Obviously, physical attraction is an important element for people of all genders and sexual orientations, but physical attraction is just the movie trailer in your relationship: fast and flashy, visually stunning, emotionally intense and musically catchy. Sometimes, previews are the best part of a movie. Other times, the movie stands on its own, connected to but also separate from the trailer’s narrative. Sometimes, movies unwind in precisely the way that the preview suggests they will, but that’s rare and worse, disappointing. Most of the time, though, when we crush hard on a movie, it’s not because it fulfills our expectations and artistic standards but because it subverts and defies them. This is what loves does: making us happy in ways we didn’t ask for and simultaneously ignoring other things we were convinced we couldn’t live without. Love is a peculiar object. A odd piece of cinematography. A strange and beautiful soundtrack inside your head.
Like the movies we fall in love with, true love always has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to it, something that can’t be reduced to formulae, film directing or attributes. Whatever it is that we find beautiful in the (wo)man we love, our love happens in mysterious and bizarre ways that don’t add up with romantic arithmetic. When we fall in love, we elude our own logic, prediction, control and typology. Love, in that way, is incredibly grounding because it connects us to our immediate life while defying our expectations of reality, every part of us plugged in at once.
When you break it all down, love is often about idiosyncratic beauty (a term I first coined in my first novel, BLANK). IB is behavior unique or peculiar to a specific person as well as a distinctive or particular quality or characteristic of a thing that we grow to love and appreciate. Idiosyncratic beauty is eccentric beauty that hits us in just the right way. It becomes connected somehow to how we feel for that person. When we’re talking about love, we’re talking both about the person and also about the process of loving that person, which is why both definitions are crucial.
Let me give you some examples: a woman who loves the scar on her boyfriend’s cheek more than anything about his body, a man who falls in love when watches his girlfriend paint cartoon fruit in her pajamas, a man who loves his boyfriend in part because he looks like Robert Benigni and tells stories in a quirky, awkward and broken English, a woman who is reminded of her love for her fiancée every time she says certain words, a man who realizes he’s in love all over again when he secretly hears his wife babbling in her sleep or reading E. E. Cummings poems out loud in the bathtub, a woman who watches her husband talking to their kids’ stuffed animals, a man watches his girlfriend dancing at a hipster bar dressed like a Chinese superhero. In every case, there’s something unique and special about that person that we find beautiful. At times, it just overwhelms us.
Sometimes, it could be as simple as noticing that her socks don’t match. Watching him open the door for old women. Seeing her talk to neighborhood children like a pirate. Noticing him messing up his grandmother’s hair at the dinner table. Listening to him sing arias in horrendous fake German. Smelling burnt toast every time she offers to make breakfast. The point is, it doesn’t fucking matter if the whole world thinks you’re insane, if your reasons seem wack, if you’re not even making sense when you try to explain what the hell is going on. The only thing that matters is that there’s something about that person that devastates, touches and irradiates you, that moves, inflames and arouses you, that delights, surprises and confuses you, something you’re not even sure you can isolate or transliterate into language. Something you know is there connecting the two of you together like sticky celestial fibers.
So tell us, what about you? How is your partner idiosyncratically beautiful? What are some of the idiosyncratically beautiful things about your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, partner, lover or secret crush? Tell us about them in the comments below.
image credit: Flickr/ StephenMcleod – International Man of Mystery
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