Wabi-sabi: Beauty of Imperfection
Is Wabi-sabi the same as Wasabi, the horseradishy condiment?
Wabi-sabi is an ancient Asian philosophy centered on simplicity. It focuses on acceptance of life as is. It celebrates the beauty of things that are imperfect, temporary, and incomplete. It finds beauty in things that are modest and humble and unconventional. It is present-oriented. It is the embrace and reverence for imperfection. It is the joy of flaws. It is nature and humanity, connected and real.
Its principles are:
- Nothing lasts.
- Nothing is finished.
- Nothing is perfect.
These ideas are contrary to the ones that govern life in the 21st century. We tend to focus on the end goal. We fear, and we resist. We build defenses. We are drawn toward the shiny, the glitter, and the gold. McBigger = McBetter is the motto.
Of course, McBigger = McBetter does not apply to girls’/women’s bodies. (Yes, this is sarcasm)
We tend to define beauty in narrow terms. Beauty is a commodity that is sold to us, products or services promising us a perfect this or perfect that. Air brushed and Instagram filtered images are the standard to which we compare ourselves. Any blemish or scar must be eradicated, pronto!
Goddess forbid a body has any cellulite on it. Photoshop that sh*t immediately!
Why is there such disdain for what is real? What shows age? What nonconforms?
Ragan Chastain, a Fat Activist, talks about recognizing worth in all body sizes as a skill. To see beauty and worth in what may not be culturally sanctioned as worthy. THAT is wabi-sabi! Advertisers and other industries would lose tons of money, though, so they prefer to sell us what they lead us to believe we need in order to be of worth.
Who decides the standards for whatever we are evaluating?
Imagine the ease with which water flows in a river. Imagine the freedom of birds in the sky. Imagine the warmth of the sun.
Imagine the exhale that accompanies body acceptance. FEEL it, even more importantly. LIVE it, most importantly.
THAT is freedom.