Thursday, May 5, 2011

Guest Blogger Thursday: "Defining beauty in the wake of tragedy" by Becky Hatch

I'm so happy to introduce a new guest writer here on the Jennie Fresa Beauty Blog!   Please welcome Becky to our wonderful world of beauty!

Becky is interning with us this spring/summer as one of our beauty editors.  She comes to us with a B.A in English from Uconn and is currently studying Business Administration at the University of New Haven.  Becky will stop by once a month (for guest blogger Thursday) to share her thoughts on the history of beauty.  I hope you will check-in and leave your feedback on these thought provoking topics!  

First up:  An essay on defining beauty in the wake of tragedy.  By Becky Hatch

"Beauty" can be a hard thing to define. Every culture has a different idea of what defines beauty, and what they value. In the wake of a tragedy, be it September 11, 2001, Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in Japan, the tornadoes ripping across the midwest right now or the devastating earthquake in Haiti, people gather round in a kind of global - human- compassion that is truly remarkable. We watch in horror as peoples' lives are torn apart and we triumph and cheer as they move on and rebuild. There are undoubtedly pictures of destruction splattered across our televisions and newspapers, but occassionally there are also pictures of beautiful things. These pictures and scenes that we see from afar show us the grief and chaos but also the resolve and the determination to go on with life, and rebuild something that resembles the way it was before. People always, always, keep going.
While some may think it's superficial to discuss beauty, clothes, salons, and the like in the same article as such tragic events, I think it goes hand in hand, especially after reading Edwidge Danticat's essay in the March 2011 issue of Allure. The women of these small towns and slums in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, women who began their lives with literally nothing and then had everything destroyed in the earthquake, they wanted to build something that resembled their lives before. They wanted to feel good about themselves again; to feel beautiful in the midst of the ugliness around them.
Ms Danticat recounts her experiences growing up in Haiti with the three most beautiful women she had ever seen - three sisters who painstakingly sew sequins on dresses that are worn by American and European fashionistas. The pride these women take in their work - work that ultimately lands on our hangers, is evident. Some of the first places to be rebuilt - albiet in a rather makeshift way - in the camps following the earthquake in Haiti, were "salons". Women, friends, family, neighbors, helping to make each other beautiful amidst the loss, death, destruction and ugliness that mother nature had thrown so ungraciously upon them. Women who "don't want to look like the chaos around [them]". They want to braid their hair, wear colorful scarves, paint their nails and hold their heads high. Ms Danticat's mother used to tell her that "when you leave the house, you represent everything you're associated with-you represent women, you represent Haitians". Even though these women barely have houses to leave in the morning, they want to put their best face forward, for themselves, each other, their country and to the world. As Ms Danticat points out - "looking beautiful might be one way of exclaiming to the world that you are doing more than breathing, that you matter". It is easy to forget the plight of the victims of disasters; it is human nature to move on from it and to forget in order to keep going. When it is impossible to forget, these women have decided to make beauty out of ugliness.



  1. nothing like a little perspective, huh? amazing. nice post, Becky!

  2. thank you for haring Becky! Can't wait to hear more from you!! xo