Maura Gancitano, beauty has many stories

We are all inside, indeed – more and more – all of us. Even though we don’t know, and we believe we are free. The bars have the consistency of a constant background noise, the noise of the worry that our body (its appearance, its shape, its decay) causes us, the effort that we make to keep everything at bay. The beauty imperative, says philosopher Maura Gancitano in the essay Mirror of my desires (Einaudi), was born with the bourgeoisie, spreads with mass culture, but perhaps it is only today, in the era of sharing and therefore at the height of its strength, that we can try to escape.

In our culture, beauty is always a positive concept. How did it become a “prison”, as the subtitle of your book quotes it?
“It happened because at a certain point in history we started thinking that beauty should just be a certain thing, with specific measurements and traits. Women started to develop, vis -to themselves, thoughts they didn’t have before and an eternal sense of inadequacy; wasting time, talent and money in the constant pursuit of a better aesthetic version of “themselves. Seeking beauty as food is not a bad thing, but it is not a measure, it is a feeling, a desire”.

MILAN, ITALY – OCTOBER 06: Chiara Ferragni attends the Bulgari Serpenti Makeover Party at Terrazza 21 on October 06, 2021 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Daniele Venturelli / Daniele Venturelli / Getty Images for Bulgari)Daniele Venturelli

Did they put us in this prison or did we enter it?
“They placed us because they created a story and a market. But we believed in it. We have to stop believing in it, become aware. The market must also change and the newspapers play a role in it: they tell stories stories, they can tell different stories. It’s not about stopping talking about beauty, but paying attention to the narrative that takes place.”

A lot – a lot more – is happening on social media. Where, however, it has been shown that even the declared presence of a filter does not make the manipulated image less desirable.
“Yes, and it’s discouraging. On social networks it is necessary, individually, to try to be more honest, to stop using filters for example. And talking collectively about the effort that is required of us, talking about other physical aspects, normalizing them. If we change the narrative, if instead of introducing ourselves we start talking about our desires and talents, we can free them from prison. Because the myth of beauty also does that: it separates us from ourselves”.

About ten days ago, Chiara Ferragni posted a photo of her without makeup in which we see that she has pimples on her chin and, perhaps for the first time, we see that she has – like everyone – from the pores of the skin. Is it an operation that helps?
“She is one of those inaccessible beauties, but maybe Ferragni too has insecurities about beauty or felt objectified. When I was writing my book, I read that of Emily Ratajkowski, when I started it I was skeptical, and on the contrary it was an important reading because it explains very well how the myth of beauty makes its damage even to those who have beauty. . The stories are really powerful.”

In fact, after reading a story in a college anthology, she decided – she says – that between beautiful and ugly, she would be an ugly woman.
“Yes, it was the story of two sisters, Belloccia and Bruttina. Belloccia married the prince who quickly got tired of her, Bruttina one of his ministers, who loved her all her life. I decided to be ugly, to make my body something neutral. Without succeeding: our bodies are constantly watched and judged. I saw it again through my daughter’s puberty. The body affects us all and conditions us. Others have a certain look on you, but so do you.

Leave a Comment