Not just another pretty face

The day after singer Beyoncé’s spectacular halftime show during this year’s Super Bowl, the Website BuzzFeed posted a gallery of pictures entitled: “The 33 Fiercest Moments From Beyoncé’s Halftime Show.” Of those 33 photos posted, several featured the pop diva (who is considered by any standard one of the most beautiful women in the world) with facial expressions and poses that can be considered less than flattering. Beyoncé’s publicist called for BuzzFeed to take down the pictures simply because of they were what the publicist believed to be unattractive. Soon, word of the publicist’s request got out, and that story and the photos went viral. Most likely, if the publicist had kept quiet, relatively few people would have noticed the pictures she objected to.

Unusual, even unattractive facial expressions are not uncommon in athletes as they exert themselves playing their sports. Who can forget pictures of basketball star Michael Jordan with his tongue hanging out or tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams’ grimaces as they hit forehands, backhands and overheads. The Website The FM posted a gallery of photos from the 2012 Olympics compiled from wire services of divers’ faces gnarled from effort and centrifugal force.

In a similar vein, performers’ faces can also become contorted. Singers can close their eyes and furrow their brows to show the passion with which they express their art. Like a wide receiver reaching for a fingertip catch, a musicians immersed in the depths of song can screw their faces into distorted masks as they reach for soul-searing notes. Dancers can twist their bodies as well as their faces as they writhe and gyrate to the beat of the music. In some of the poses, performing artists can be beautiful and graceful, while in others they can look fierce or impassioned.

Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance included both energetic singing and dancing. The photos taken of her were of from the performance and not created in Photoshop to intentionally make her look unappealing (although after the story broke many memes were developed that emphasized the awkwardness of some of the pictures). In the BuzzFeed gallery of pictures there are several that also show the pop star’s undeniable beauty, and I think the others display the ferocity and passion with which she performs.

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