The three graces by Nikki de Saint Phalle (photo not my own)
In ancient Greek Mythology, there were three Graces: Aglaia, the Grace of Beauty, Euphrosyne, the Grace of Delight and Thalia, the Grace of Blossom.
These three, I encountered the other morning on the crowded bus to work. I was sitting near the back of the bus, when I heard them talking. Amused by their innocent conversation, I eavesdropped until they got off on their stop.
They must have been 12 or 13, still very much little girls, who had not started to try and cheat nature into making them “honey-pots” to attract/impress boys. Not a trace of make up, nail polish, little push up bras or showing g-strings. Apparently the geniuses of the marketing and advertisement industry had failed to influence them with the hundreds of ads geared towards them.
The norm being to make little girls early on into consumers of beauty products and accessories that rush them into womanhood, by-passing the years of unspoiled childhood. Thus not only putting them in the spot light of corrupted fantasies and robbing them of their chance to develop a healthy attitude towards their bodies, but also passing on questionable values of status and achievement: Casualties of commercial strategies, they will fill the waiting rooms of Psychologists, psychiatrist, life coaches and contribute to the massive power the pharmaceutical industry has over us all.
Back to the three Graces: Not one of them had a mobile phone glued to the palm of their hands, speed typing with their thumbs while loud music travels the airwaves around the plugs in their ears…they actually were making conversation and chatted about important issues of their lives. They all agreed that boys were disgusting and unrefined. I don’t want him touching my stuff, how gross, his hands on my notebooks! They giggled in unison. How much they liked their teacher, fair, smart and pretty, but even after the whole year still could not pronounce her last name. Then they went on to discuss the advantages of their after school activities, playing an instrument, sports and being outdoors. Yes, they personified beauty, cheer and delight with their pure deliberations.
I would have loved to listen a while longer, such adorable unpretentious bright lights..
Funny thing was that a few days later early in the morning at the neighborhood hairdressers, I encountered them again…just like the fast forward button in life, there they were, now way beyond the zenith of their lives. Outside of the grip of any kind of purchasing agenda, if you overlook the fact that they probably see their doctors and pharmacists more than their own off spring/grandkids. Three grey haired old ladies – friends, who happened to run into each other at the beauty parlor. Having survived their spouses by any number of years, familiar with the harshness of solitude and the betrayal of their own bodies, they exchanged jokes and egged on by the provocative comments of the coiffeuse, they were laughing merrily. Poking fun at their disabilities and that last bit of remaining vanity, getting ready to attend the afternoon gathering at their church. They talked of their pastor, like teenagers talk about their lovers….Beauty said to Cheer: And since you are not coming to the church meeting today, why are you getting all dolled up, you got a date or something?? They all giggle in unison at the thought. Cheer answers gingerly: It’s my husband’s birthday and I don’t want him to see me like this! Delight interrupts: Oh dear, you silly…he’s dead. Wagging a finger in her direction and giggling: Onset of Alzheimer’s, perhaps, you can add that to your long list of ailments! ? They all giggle again and before Cheer can answer the beautician puts in: Oh my God, the senior citizens playgroup…Cheer then says: He always loved it when I went to have my hair done! So, I am doing it for him! This elicits another round of laughter as they try to envision the probability of him looking down. The discussion moves on to the various at home services they receive for their medical problems and the surgeries they have coming up with following stays at rehab…between them they have just about everything you can possibly imagine, but are optimistic that all is well and are already planning upcoming vacations with their church.
When one after the other gets done and takes her wheeled walkers out into the morning sunshine, it is quiet again.
I would have loved to listen longer, such gracious heartening lights…
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