Tuesday, January 10, 2012

on the topic of je ne sais quoi


Tell me what you think.

According to a recent poll by, this should be one of most gorgeous, perfect-looking faces you’ve seen. 

That’s because this face has been created by Photoshop, and is comprised of the facial features of female celebrities that are most admired by their 9,350 shoppers.

These are the results. 
The best celebrity features chosen were:

Hair: Kate Middleton
Eyebrows: Megan Fox
Eyes: Cheryl Cole
Nose: Kate Beckinsale
Cheekbones: Keira Knightley
Lips: Angelina Jolie
Chin: Gwyneth Paltrow
Chest: Kelly Brook

Is it just me? 
But something's missing from this picture.

Mystique, that special something…

I think most grown-up women know what the problem is, and it’s simply this.

A woman's beauty cannot be reduced to some mathematical formula comprised of a perfectly proportioned bone structure and individually hand-picked facial features. 

That's why this picture looks so odd, it's a fantasy vision that's little more than a Frankensteinian Barbie Doll; like a blank stare, this image is devoid of those mysterious intangibles that make a woman in real life beautiful, that ‘special something’ that transforms an interesting looking face into an intriguing person.

Have you noticed this phenomena on the big movie screen? 

It's curious the way a woman with all the classic features that make up a "beautiful face," will often appear flat and uninteresting on the big screen, quickly relegated in our minds to “just another pretty face,” while a woman with more unusual--even plainer features-- can light up a screen with that unforeseen “it” factor, that mysterious quality that showcases the emotional depth in her eyes and hints at the hidden dimensions of her person.

What is this “it” factor with its physically transformative powers?

The French call it the je ne sais quoi. 

And it’s that intangible blend of something that transcends one’s physical looks; instead of perfection, we're charmed by a full-bodied laugh, a teasing, sideways glance with a toothy grin. 

Or it could be the way one walks into a room of strangers or barrels through life with a relentless intellectual curiosity. 

It might be kind heart or a quick mischievous wit or a bawdy sense of humor.

Any of these might add that sexy twinkle to a woman’s eyes that wasn’t there at first glance.

And yes, I pity the man who has not figured this out.

tumblr_lly3x3ULN21qkb4zeo1_500_large weheartitphoto:Google Images

Imagine if Mr. Darcy had fallen for the most beautiful Barrett sister instead of Elizabeth, the feisty, judgmental, playful and immensely intelligent woman whom was overlooked by others, and eventually transformed before his eyes into “the handsomest woman” he knew.

The beauty of substance.

It's an idea that's illustrated nicely in one of my favorite scenes from  When Harry Met Sally.

Harry Burns, the ultimate guy’s guy. A meat and potatoes man who likes his women “hot,” and staunchly claims that men and women can't be friends. 

Only a funny thing happened when Harry finally declares his love to Sally; instead of focusing on her physical beauty, what he realizes is that it’s Sally’s sheer complexity that seals the deal, her quirky, endearing, --even exasperating-- flaws that he “sees” and loves. 

Remember these lines?

harry and sally image

“I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out.
I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich.
I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts.
I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes.
And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night…”
Harry sounds a lot like a man who understands the mystique of a real woman’s beauty.

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