Think about it. How often do you make a decision about a person based first upon their appearance? It takes a fraction of a second to sum up a person, to think “yes, this is a winner” or “no, this is a loser”, or “yes, this person might be my friend.”
Like many thousands of others, I have seen the performance by Susan Boyle, a talented Scottish singer, who was on the tv show Britain’s Got Talent 2009. This is the YouTube link. The reason I’m linking to this particular clip is because it includes the encouraging words of Ant and Dec (do I have their names right?), the gasps and sneers of audience members, and the plastic faces of the judges trying to not pre-judge on appearances.
Yes, Miss Boyle is not draped in haute couture or slinky lycra. Her hair hasn’t been teased by a hairdresser into the latest look. She is not exotically stunning like Penelope Cruz, and she isn’t young like Sienna Miller. But she has an inner strength to be able to perform confidently and perfectly in front of a huge, judgmental crowd and three tough judges, and she has the singing talent that makes her shine brighter than anyone else there on the day. Her voice and her demeanour have touched people, not just those who were in the theatre that day, but people all over the world.
Perhaps even though I’ve learned through years in singing, teaching, and attending eisteddfods that the most beautiful voice and the best stage presence isn’t necessarily in the prettiest or youngest package, I might have still been looking a bit surprised as Miss Boyle came on stage. Initial reactions are hard to surmount. Even if I know that larynxes, training, lungs, strength, determination, musicianship, sensitivity and practice practice practice are what counts, not to mention the guts to grab opportunities to perform when they arise. If you don’t have the gift and the training of that gift in the first place, you will be a plasticky wee girlie or lad in a pop band or an Idol show and may perhaps get well known, but that’s it.
After writing this, I came across this entry by Angela Gunn.
When I replay the video, I’m listening to Miss Boyle, but I’m watching these three plasticky judges go from condescension to surprise to bated-breath joy in under five minutes. Even Simon Cowell, that bitchy gym-ratty thing, can’t manage to do much more than grin by the end. And it feels good to see — to watch the judging stooges having a genuine experience, and to have it ourselves, and to feel that the homely-but-talented people we are all inside are being, for a few moments, less oppressed by figures of beauty.
Smart woman. Go and read her entry.