The Problem with Symmetry

I apologize now to any artist-type folks who are reading this: This may irritate you.

Forgive me, I am not an artist. I still get frustrated and perplexed trying to scrawl the simplest of things – a heart, for instance, always turns out to be some sort of lopsided, angular thing instead of the tiny, soft, rounded lobes of affection that pepper letters and postcards. I have never been able to draw a symmetrical heart. Nor a symmetrical eye. Nor a symmetrical…well, anything , for that matter. I simply cannot draw. (Which is why I am always so amazed by my more artistically-inclined friends. Keep on doing what you do – it astounds the clumsy or shaky-handed like myself!)

But back to the point I was trying to make about the heart. I cannot draw, even the tiniest of little hearts, and have always been annoyed at my inability to do so. Seeing people draw perfect hearts annoyed me until earlier this afternoon when, scrolling through instagram, it came to me….

What’s the big deal about symmetry, anyway?

Well, the answer might be obvious. People with more symmetrical faces are thought to be more attractive. There are things like ratios and evenness and the subtle mathematics of pleasing aesthetics. But I find that all too often, the word “symmetry” has connotations of “perfection.” The amount of “is my face symmetrical?” apps and websites seem to support this.

But perfect symmetry in real life kind of creeps me out. “Perfect” symmetry, though photoshopped, is something out of the Uncanny Valley. There is a world of difference between a photoshopped, perfectly symmetrical face and a drawn heart, but the strangeness of “perfection” translated into reality is, well…pretty blatant.

I’m not saying we all need to walk around looking like works of Picasso, although Picasso certainly made asymmetry work for him. What I do think, however, is that we need to stop thinking in terms of symmetry, perfection, and nice little identical mirrored hearts dotting our notes. No one is harder on us than we are on ourselves. It’s a difficult pill to swallow, but there it is – in reality, we need to unclench, ease up, and see the charm in our asymmetrical scribbles and our imperfect faces.

Perfection is a concept, not something that translates well into reality. Or as my favourite movie states: “…That’s the thing about perfection. It’s unknowable!”  No one can have the perfect face, nor the perfect body, nor mind, nor spirit. But when we make the choice to embrace our asymmetrical selves and forgive our flaws, and drop the constant search for “perfect,” we can see the truth as it is: There is always room for improvement through love and acceptance.
And doesn’t that feel better than railing against the lobe of a drawn heart for being too sharp, or larger than the other lobe?

Until next we meet, love and imperfect scribbles to you. ❤


One thought on “The Problem with Symmetry

  1. I am FASCINATED by the way in which those creepy symmetrical photos changed the overall expressions of the people, despite the right side of the photos being the same in each set!

    My favourite description of perfection comes from Brené Brown, that trying to be perfect is actually our attempt to avoid blame and shame. “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be our best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth; it’s a shield. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.”

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