We are afraid and we look for the kink, the small defect that will render her endearing, human and tangible. It sounds like the dialogue between Mike and Gilbert, in The dead all have the same skin1. Fed up with all the artificial beauties he’s been with, Mike vents his anger : he hates them, they’re just things, trivial things. And Gilbert replies :
-I wouldn’t like to raise your hopes too much... but I can offer you a hunchback secretary... Mike’s eyes sparkle.
-Is she horrible?
-Ugly, says Gilbert with grin. And what’s more, she’s got a wooden leg!
Next to Il Hwa’s mise en abyme, this dialogue is strangely poetic and unsettling. Have we really reached that point?
“Ugliness is superior to beauty, insofar as uglyness endures”
Through the centuries, beauty has been the synonym of virtue, the allegory for goodness, rightness and, by association, the truth. Then disaster struck, the “Chérettes” being one of its early symptoms. Modern society happened. A society that developed central heating and motorised transport before dealing with its greatest miracle: ourselves. Nose reshaping, teeth whitening, implants... the only thing it forgot was the fact that we are good students. We didn’t forget Plato anymore than we forgot the Mona Lisa: truth finds its incarnation in the beautiful. But if beauty can be faked, then it cannot be true. Truth, to be sure, is all about this nose that’s a tad too long, these big ears and this sloping smile, these things we find so charming. Here is the contradiction: truth is beautiful, but beauty is often fake, when ugliness is always true. Ugliness is therefore beautiful.
Proof of this can be found in the new icons that rejoined the pantheon of “Chérettes”. Out with the cold and smooth we’ve learnt to distrust and welcome the imperfections of the straight out of bed hairstyles, the denims full of holes and, supreme fashion statement, the nude makeup! We wonder at her looks, realer than real. Is this a real woman, or the ultimate reflection in the mirror?