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BONUS: the smile is so much more than an emoticon September 26, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Smiley, Web smileys.
Tags: , , ,

This photo is making the rounds on Facebook today; it arrived to Facebook via Reddit:

The photo is of a young Sikh woman, Balpreet Kaur. The person who posted the photo to Reddit seemed confused by the sight of facial hair on a young woman and posted the photo under Reddit’s “Funny” section with the comment, “I’m not sure what to conclude from this.”

Somewhere among all the crass jokes and ignorant jabs about gender roles and body image, Balpreet Kaur herself chimed in to explain in beautiful rhetoric and with deep compassion (she never once expresses anger or embarrassment) why she has facial hair and why she’s proud of it.

Go visit the Reddit post and do a “find” for balpreetkaur, which is the handle under which she posted her comment, so you can read her full comments for yourself. But I wanted to share this photo because of two specific statements she makes:

Early in her reply, she writes that she didn’t know about the photograph until a friend brought it to her attention — she wasn’t aware the OP (original photographer) was taking her picture. “If the OP wanted a picture,” she writes, “they could have just asked and I could have smiled.” 🙂

She goes on to explain her Sikh faith, how it addresses the body and body image, and why she’s proud to look the way she does. It’s a beautiful statement of faith, at the end of which she writes, “When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can. So, to me, my face isn’t important but the smile and the happiness that lie behind the face are.” (emphasis mine)

This is what’s so wonderful about this post, happy readers: the smiley face as we love and share it here on the blog is almost always an artistic expression, a simple combination of basic colors and clean lines, a symbol. But it is a symbol for a human expression, and that human expression — of happiness, of joy and compassion — is so much more important than any stylized pictograph we could make of it.

This photo and the story Balpreet Kaur tells about it made me smile. And that’s worth a thousand emoticons.



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