Friday, February 18, 2011

Beauty Scars

Aesthetics of Surgical Scars by Jackson McConnell

The next time you're walking through Enterprise Square in downtown Edmonton, check this out. In fact, make it a special trip. There's a display from a design class called The Aesthetics of Disability. It's a fascinating display of ideas about "rethinking ... the aesthetic direction and qualities [of] an assistive device..." Every time I walk through the square, this picture catches my eye. The entire display is excellent, showing all sorts of futuristic prosthetics that embrace technology and aesthetic design, but this one really seems to crystallize the core idea which I believe is at the heart of this exhibit, and is an idea we all need to embrace.

I have discussed personal branding in a previous post. I don't think that personal branding (like product or company branding) should be something that is pasted on, added to, or painted over what is already there. It must grow out of the genuine truth of what is within. We see it, on an intuitive level, with advertising all the time. Packaging that is far superior to what the product could ever be. Advertisements that promise impossible benefits. These things ring hollow. We don't believe them and credibility is lost.

Many of us have a remarkable sense about people that operates the same way. We see someone, often a block away, that is flaunting the latest fashions or some trend, not because the style resonates with their core personality, but because it is 'fashionable' and they are trying to define themselves as 'fashionable.' Indeed, some people can be trend-setters, because it is part of their nature. I'm talking about those who seem to wear the fashion, or use the lingo, or adopt the attitude as a surface patina. It's an ever changing coat of paint, that is based on the trend, but not the object being painted.

These are the people who seem like they are 'always on' and are never giving a true representation of themselves. We sense it. We take everything they say with a grain of salt. And then we are pleasantly surprised when we meet someone else who does their own thing, saying "They just seem so genuine!"

One can't help but wonder if they are afraid to be true to themselves, the inner self. Perhaps like the example in the photo, they see themselves as 'scarred' and see those scars as ugly things that need to be hidden. The brilliance in the example above is based on personal acceptance. An acknowledgement of everything that we are, the good, the bad and the ugly. Then an embracing of those qualities. Turning a scar that is permanent and inescapable into artwork is true to the core of personal branding. Who are you? How can you embrace that, value it and share it with the world.

Of course, we're all stuck in thoughts of who we want to be. Until we can look at ourselves truthfully, scars and all, we're never going to be sharing ourselves fully with the world around us. And that is a true tragedy.

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