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  • We are often taught that the best way to prove attractive is to smile. The idea feels logical

  • and for the most part highly appropriate, but it shouldn't blind us to the occasional

  • claims of a contrary minority approach, this one founded on an awareness that friendship

  • between people is ultimately based not on boosterish accounts of recent triumphs, but

  • on the possibility of shared grief, sadness and melancholy.

  • This may explain the surprisingly intense charm of attractive people who are resolutely

  • not smilingbut instead look lost in thought, absorbed by their own sorrows and taken up

  • with an internal dialogue around pain and loss. They may well pull a smile if asked,

  • but it will be obviously rather strained, and brief, like a moment of sunshine between

  • dark grey clouds. They are beautiful not despite their sadness, buthowever curious this

  • soundsprecisely because of it. In the Western artistic tradition, the most prominent

  • sad beautiful person wasfor many centuriesthe mother of Jesus. In many representations,

  • Mary was elegant, serene and poised, but she was alsoquite obviouslysunk in sorrow

  • and concern. But the sadness did not detract from her appeal. Rather, it made the viewer

  • feel in the presence of someone who would be in a position to understand their own sorrows,

  • someone around whom it would not be necessary to put up a front in the name of seeming normal.

  • hansmemling_diptychofmaartennieuwenhove-detail2 Our longing for love is, at heart, powered

  • by a desire to be understood and to understand. Given how much of life is tragic in structure,

  • it follows that for many of us, the sort of people we feel readiest to love are not going

  • to be those who find the business of living obvious or easy; but those who are as puzzled

  • and saddened by it as we are; those who feel a regular need to withdraw from the sentimental

  • bonhomie of daily life; those who are alive to anxiety and catastropheand who may,

  • like us, frequently feel close to tears at so much that is regretful and sad. We have

  • been keen to pathologise and medicalise expressions of unhappinessand our ideals of physical

  • beauty have kept pace with our prejudices. Our billboards and movies loudly proclaim

  • the virtues of glowing contentment. But we are in danger of missing out on one of the

  • richest sources of beauty, which is when our faces drop their usual masks and visually

  • acknowledge the pain of existence – a moment of honesty and vulnerability on the basis

  • of which true friendship and love can arise.

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We are often taught that the best way to prove attractive is to smile. The idea feels logical

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B1 UK sadness friendship attractive beauty bringing love

The Attractiveness of Unhappy Looking People

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    kismet posted on 2018/01/10
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