That's What Makes You Beautiful

I have a secret to share; you do not look the way you think you look.

A mirror reflects the exact opposite of your face and a camera’s lens distorts your image. Unlike a photograph, unless you are catatonic or dead, in which case you have bigger fish to fry, your body and face are in constant motion. You cannot physically see yourself the way I see you. But more importantly? You look different to each and every pair of eyes.

My friend Sam recently posted a profile on a dating website. Because we love Sam and because an even number is easier at social functions, we offered to take a photograph that would ensure his success in attracting Mr. Right.

“Bill, put your arm around Sam, then we’ll crop out your head and people will wonder who that mystery man is,” Paul said this ending in a whisper that implied intrigue while he directed the photo shoot.

“All right, now read the newspaper; you’re smart, you’re a man on the street. Work it, work it!” He said.

We congratulated ourselves on his professional portfolio. Several months later over drinks a group of us asked Sam how the online dating thing was going. Our friend Ron had a strong opinion.

“Those pictures make him look like Bill Gates. Who wants to fuck Bill Gates?” Ron said.

Crickets. We took a sip of our drinks and said nothing, because none of us wanted to fuck Bill Gates. And I’m pretty sure that even Mrs. Gates was ambivalent about performing that duty. But, she’s got a bed of money to lie on while he tinkers with her operating system.

Now to be sure, Sam looks nothing like Bill Gates. No, he looks like Danny Gokey from season 8 of American Idol; adorable Danny with the good hair and glasses. That’s Sam, but with a Boston accent and a trashy mouth. Danny could kiss his mother with his squeaky clean mouth, not Sam. But then I began to wonder, if Sam looked like Danny Gokey to me but looked like Bill Gates to Ron what did the rest of the world see?

Recently Paul and I bumped into a street artist. He created clay sculptures of a face in twenty five minutes for thirty dollars. A bargain! I thought it would be incredibly romantic to have an image of Paul’s face at this point in time for the rest of our lives. When Paul finally agreed to sit for the artist, an older Asian man with thick glasses, the artist exclaimed “Oh, you brothers!”

I prepared to deliver my marriage equality speech, but when I looked at Paul, his eyes said just don't, so instead I said “No, we’re partners.”

“Ah, but brothers, you look alike.”

Yes, we both have two eyes, a mouth and a nose and they are relatively in the same spot, but that is where the similarity ends. I worried that my thirty dollars would net little more than a play-do representation of a Mr. Bill look alike.

As he sculpted Paul’s face, I found myself standing behind the artist thinking that the cheeks should be smoothed a little more, the eyes should be level, and his nose was more architectural. I knew Paul’s face better than anyone. But the face I knew was not the one I saw molded in clay.

I thought back to a night with Sam at an open artist’s studio in his neighborhood. We filled our plastic cups with cheap booze and walked from studio to studio inspecting the artwork and as the alcohol took effect, inspected the men.

“See that one Sam? Cute, tall, thick hair, dressed nicely.” I was playing match maker again.

“The preppy dude? Dameron, he’s your type. When you look at that guy, that’s what I see when I look at my guys.” I thought about Sam’s guys. When he pointed them out to me and my friend Cary, we reacted as if a bug had just hit the windshield.

It was a revelation. We are each a walking piece of art; even Bill Gates. When you look in the mirror and wonder if your nose is crooked or your eyes are too close together or your boobs are too small, consider this. There are seven billion pairs of eyes on this earth that see something you don’t. A fraction of those eyes see a beautiful piece of art.

Wouldn’t your time be better spent looking into the eyes that see perfection instead of the ones that don’t?

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