The Beauty Of Imperfection


The beauty of imperfection. The commercial, and historical, to be fair, view of beauty revolves around perfection: symmetry, smoothness, balance and in the case of humans, youth. We’re drawn to it, it seems genetic. We  swoon at the beauty of Michelangelo’s David, the opening chords of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, the perfection of Einstein’s e=mc2 .

The cracks are where the light comes through. Photo by Joeyy Lee.

“I cling to my imperfection as the very essence of my being.”

Anatole France

Beauty is found in imperfection as well, and I see it more as I grow older. I appreciate the beauty of what the Japanese call wabi-sabi: (via Wikipedia) “a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is ‘imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete'”. It’s the wonderful gray in an old dog’s muzzle, the fading of antique fabrics, the small scuffs in a wedding ring. 

Kintsugi (or kintsukuroi) is a Japanese method for repairing broken ceramics with a special lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. . . . The process usually results in something more beautiful than the original.” Source.

The Roman philosopher Marcus Aurelius remarked on imperfection as beauty (and edible). He wrote in The Meditations, “When bread is baked, some parts are split at the surface, and these… have a certain fashion contrary to the purpose of the baker’s art, are beautiful… and in a peculiar way excite a desire for eating.

Old hands have their own weathered beauty. Source.
These women who have had the “perfection” of youth rubbed away, are also lovely to me, in a non-traditional way. I want what’s in their eyes.

Check out Lauren Hutton and Georgia O’Keefe for deeply beautiful, deeply lined faces. And this brave woman, sharing the beauty of her after-cancer body. This picture was difficult at first to take in. But the subject, Beth Whaanga, wanted it seen, and calls herself a “breast cancer preventer.”

Here’s a whole Pinterest board encouraging us to “be the beautiful messes that we are.”

And if you enjoy an artist’s point of view, take time for Sally Nixon‘s delightful collection of “what women really look like” when no one’s looking: “Not counting the calories of our food, and with impudence, we choose to make life easier by staying at home and just enjoying a little privacy. For even in our worst moments, even when no one sees us, we still are beautifully imperfect.”Sally Nixon

“I wear a pair of wings

Full of flaws and imperfections

But they are still beautiful enough to spread them and fly

Feeling so perfectly unflawed …”

― Samiha Totanji

What do you think about beauty and imperfection ? As always, no wrong answers. Stay fabulous and safe, wash and wash and wash, xo

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  1. NY Street photographer Bill Cunningham always said that those who seek beauty will find it. I think some of the most beautiful women in the world are British actors like Judy Dench, Olivia Coleman, etc. who are not botoxed into immovability.

    • Hello Lovely and thanks for coming over! Hope your weekend is fun and uplifting, xx.

  2. I just binged the French series “Call My Agent”/”Dix Pour Cent” on Netflix. The first episode was about Cecile de France, playing herself, fighting pressure to get a facelift or at least Botox. The series was fun enough, if formulaic, but one of the best parts was the parade of French celebrities playing themselves, including Isabelle Huppert, Juliette Binoche, Nathalie Baye and Monica Belluci. They are all beautiful, and they are not over “done.” They don’t have that plasticized look of too many American stars. It isn’t just the faces, but also the hair, which is more natural, the minimal makeup, and the way they dress. They’ve avoided Barbie-fication.

    • Hello TOF, so good to see you. I must watch that series; I find Cecile de France captivating. And that group of gorgeous older French actresses – full of talent! And thank you for the word of the day: “Barbification.” Have a lovely day and stay well, xx.

  3. I adore so-called imperfections in the people I love– harder to cherish your own. I know I’m sick of this limited homogenized idea of beauty we’ve been force fed forever.

    • Good morning Becky – how right you are about cherishing our own imperfections! Thanks for coming by and have a wonderful weekend, xx.

  4. Hello Joan and thanks for coming over. You sound like a lovely person to have a cup of coffee with! Stay safe and well, xx.

  5. Thank you Patti for this very uplifting beautiful post. Loved the Michelangelo and Samiha Totanji references very helpful.As I have aged I have learned to accept my imperfections and be the most attractive ,kind person I can be always enjoying life and open to learning and growing and most important accepting the imperfections in others.

    • Hello Joan and thanks for coming over. You sound like a lovely person to have a cup of coffee with! Stay safe and well, xx.

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