By Norma Adams-Wade
Everybody is beautiful on social media.
I can prove it. Just look at the comments every time someone posts a new photograph of themselves on one of the social media sites. The parade of comments spill forth: “Beautiful!” “Looking good!” “Beautiful!” “Go girl!” “Beautiful!” “You look amazing!” and so on, and so on, and so on.
Beauty is such an arbitrary, eye-of-the-beholder quality.
I was just thinking… How did it happen that we woke up one day and everybody is beautiful?
And have we become so vain that we hungrily post our photographs online and wait breathlessly for the manufactured praises to begin? “Beautiful!” “Beautiful!” “Beautiful!”
Ordinary-looking people (like myself) could post a new photograph right now and within the half hour I would become a pageant queen – if I were to believe the lying, instant gratification comments that would pop up.
Through the ages, songs have given us countless lessons about beauty.
The Temptations told listeners in the 1960s that beauty was only skin deep, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Ray Stevens in 1970 crooned that everything is beautiful in its own way.
The mellow voice of Nat King Cole in the 1950s, allowed listeners to hear him ask his Mona Lisa love interest “Are you warm, are you real Mona Lisa, or just a cold and lonely, lovely work of art?” He was referring to visual artist Leonardo De Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa painting.
And in this contemporary decade, R&B/soul vocalist Jazmine Sullivan captures the essence of what the social media craze of self-display and personal-adoration is all about.
In her 2015 song “Masterpiece (Mona Lisa),” the vocal artist spells out the poor self images that many, particularly females, on social media have endured before gaining self-worth. Sullivan explained her motivation about writing the song in an inter- view with Music Xclusives TV that later was picked up by www.genius.com, a site that explores the story behind song lyrics.
“I’ve always dealt with self-image issues, as well as a lot of people – especially women…(and) young Black girls,” Sullivan said in the interview. She said the song is about “me finally being able to accept and even love all the things about me and finding them beautiful. …It’s all about your own personal journey with yourself.”
Everyone cannot be beautiful according to the rules of beauty and handsomeness that are applied to the likes of Halle Berry, Brad Pitt, Elizabeth Taylor or Idris Elba. Some of us have unconventional looks such as rock & roll musician Mick Jagger and actress “Gabby” Sidibe who costarred in the movie Precious.
So, the next time I read all the “Beautiful!” comments posted with any new photograph some- one posts on social media, I vow to understand a little better as I consider Jazmine Sullivan’s haunting lyrics:
“As the sun shines on all of my glory My flaws don’t look so bad at all… Every part of me is a vision of a portrait of Mona, Mona Lisa Every part of me is beautiful And I finally see I’m a work of art A masterpiece.”
Norma Adams-Wade, is a proud Dallas native, University of Texas at Austin journalism graduate and retired staff Dallas Morning News senior writer. She is a founder of the National of Association Black Journalists and was its first southwest regional She The News’ director.
became first Black full-time reporter in 1974. firstname.lastname@example.org