B1 Intermediate UK 83 Folder Collection
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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 smiling – but 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, but – however curious this

sounds – precisely because of it. In the
Western artistic tradition, the most prominent

sad beautiful person was – for many centuries
– the mother of Jesus. In many representations,

Mary was elegant, serene and poised, but she
was also – quite obviously – sunk 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 catastrophe – and 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 unhappiness – and 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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The Attractiveness of Unhappy Looking People

83 Folder Collection
kismet published on January 10, 2018
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