Subverting the social narrative for a truly inclusive definition of physical beauty
Visibility is a core theme of social media, movies, and culture in general. Argentinian-born novelist Andrés Neuman mesmerised the crowd with a precise, gentle, and ruthless dissection of this concept, asserting that one of literature's objectives should be to undo what Photoshop has done.
Neuman was talking to scriptwriter and actress Lella Costa. Bodies are the central topic of Anatomia sensibile, his latest book: the way they are represented, talked about, and therefore conceived and experienced. Turning the concept of social media visibility upside down, Nauman pointed out the invisibility generated by a bull’s eye that focuses on a fraction of reality while leaving everything else in the dark.
“The body is experiencing the degeneration of aesthetics into cosmetics”. The author puts particular attention on his opposition to the concept of inclusivity as currently applied, as its effect is to conform different bodies to the same system that defines standard beauty, without really subverting the social narrative.
Costa compared Neuman’s writing style and approach to literature with Italo Calvino’s. In particular, Costa referred to Calvino’s Le città invisibili (Invisible Cities) to describe Neuman’s willingness to experiment with language, to which the author replied that since language and reality are connected, an unexpected, unusual and poetic prose was needed to tell the story of bodies in their complexity and beauty.
Costa read passages from Anatomia sensibile where skin was described as a canvas that tells both the story of and individual and the story of evolutionary complexity. On the storytelling function of the body, Neuman added that the act of acceptance of a beauty canon constitutes narrative violence, since it aims to eliminate specificity.