Mutual Friends Episode 5 : “The Amazing Race”
- Thursday, 04 December 2014 18:03
“Beauty fades. That’s why it’s so valuable.”
My best friend and fellow writer Thabo Seroke said this to me the other day and it struck me to my core. Obvious at first and then suddenly so complicated, that simple sentence illuminates. And then just before I can embrace the purity of that logic another thought enters my head; “But that’s so unfair.” And the injustice is not in the inevitability of the ageing process, but the thought that one’s value as a human being rests in winning some cosmic genetic lottery. And what struck me most about that statement is how it unintentionally singles women out and puts the pressure on them.
The course that I did at university encouraged me to have a serious second look at everything I considered beautiful. What I learned is that one of the biggest and most dangerous lies that has ever been sold to us is that beauty is something we can see with the naked eye; it is not, because ultimately we are all maimed by hetero-sexism and white supremacy. Let us consider the politics of what we consider a beautiful nose, or beautiful eyes or beautiful hair; notice how we suddenly exclude a whole group of people, and perhaps, how we suddenly exclude ourselves. And make no mistake; all of our beauty politics are felt most acutely by women because in today’s patriarchal society, it is still mostly men who do the choosing. So when we discuss beauty we are really discussing power. Beauty is a question of status. And, as Toni Morrison in her book Paradise
suggests; once we get rid of all of our notions of beauty, then we can all be valued.
I think that’s what Jabu sees tonight; the girl that he loves so much telling him that she grew up never believing that she is beautiful. He looks at the girl who would give so much of herself to help out her struggling mother and brother, as well as an entire community of young needy learners. While Sizo can suddenly believe in the credibility of Britney as a writer based purely on her physical ‘improvement’, seeing Badanile in this way made Jabu use his status –literally and figuratively – to tell the world that, that
is a beautiful woman. So Sizo’s question of why would a suburban geek like Jabu would fall for a rural chick like Dani suddenly bares a very obvious answer; it is not based on what she looks like, but based on the truly beautiful person she is.