3 Quotes from Zadie Smith, On Beauty

Posted on: May 6th, 2013 by Jane Maxwell No Comments

I’m reading a wonderful book by Zadie Smith, On Beauty. As always, beautifully written with richly developed characters. Here are three quotes pulled from the book as they relate to body image, art and finding our true calling that ‘fits’ us just right.


q “Right. I look fine. Except I don’t,’ said Zora, tugging sadly at her man’s nightshirt. This was why Kiki had dreaded having girls: she knew she wouldn’t be able to protect them from self-disgust. To that end she had tried banning television in the early years, and never had a lipstick or a woman’s magazine crossed the threshold of the Belsey home to Kiki’s knowledge, but these and other precautionary measures had made no difference. It was in the air, or so it seemed to Kiki, this hatred of women and their bodies– it seeped in with every draught in the house; people brought it home on their shoes, they breathed it in off their newspapers. There was no way to control it.”

“Art is the Western myth, with which we both console ourselves and make ourselves.”

e “Claire spoke often in her poetry of the idea of “fittingness”: that is, when your chosen pursuit and your ability to achieve it–no matter how small or insignificant both might be–are matched exactly, are fitting. This, Claire argued, is when we become truly human, fully ourselves, beautiful….In Claire’s presence, you were not faulty or badly designed, no, not at all. You were the fitting receptacle and instrument of your talents and beliefs and desires.”

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