Give Good Face with Hannah Gadsby

Hannah Gadsby is objectively not ugly, nice try asshole.

The Renaissance Woman herself! I’m telling you now, you’re gonna see plenty of Hannah Gadsby here in the Shed. If you haven’t watched her genre-stitching special Nanette yet, plug thine peepers into Netflix and bring the hankies while you’re at it.

You know that feeling you get when you think, “Oof, who’s that sad old lady walking into the drug store as depicted by the security camera over my head?” and then you realize IT’S YOU! Or that feeling you get when you think, “Ooh, who’s that sexy diva walking into the drug store as depicted by the security camera over my head?” and then you realize IT’S YOU! Nanette tweaked both those neural nets for me. Multiple times.

Gadsby also directly addresses the self-deprecating nature of her previous material, perhaps like this set from the 2014 Comedy Allstars Supershow put on by the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, which is actually, I think, much more self-congratulatory than self-deprecating, and rightfully so.

This set is short but densely sweet, blooming in the hot spot between Gadsby’s nonchalant delivery and the emotionally charged subject matter: the aggro projection of misogynist online haters.

Managing the emotional projection of others is something women have to deal with disproportionately, “fat” women perhaps most of all.

I could write for ages about what’s actually going on behind the scenes when a rando lashes out, but I want to focus on a sneaky little sub-issue brought up by this particular rando’s accusation that Gadsby is “ugly.”

Not that she needs my help to deflect his insult — she does a great job intercepting and unpacking the projectile before allowing it to become needlessly internalized, pointing out that she is objectively not ugly thanks to her facial symmetry.

Now here I have to say as an Irish woman that symmetry is overrated! Sure it’s nice, but we Celts are *so* evolved our faces come pre-pinched into all the most handy spooks and snickers. I’m not saying we’re superior, just specialized. That’s what a few millennia of eating magic mushrooms and unapologetically inbreeding will do!

So the issue is, this theme we see in “modern” cultures of women being pressured to constantly arouse sexual desire among their male counterparts, even when at work (e.g., performing stand up comedy), or simply standing around miles away from any bedroom. Just the sight of our face should be boner-stroking, according to our unconscious logic.

There are some interesting “why’s?” in that. Why do men need to feel constantly titillated in our culture? What does that sense of entitlement strive to compensate for? In other words, what is missing from their lives that they have this libidinal neediness slouching its insatiability onto our right to exist as full human beings? Great questions, but not my problem! That’s their work, and god bless it. But let’s work with what we have power over.

Namely, our ability to reclaim our faces!

What we’re shedding here is the idea that a face is some kind of billboard whose job it is to excite and entice others. This is not a constructive theory.

I know it’s weird, but think of your face as an organ. This organ has a real job just like all your organs (except that piece of shit appendix), and it’s not to win the crown of jerk-off mountain.

👉Your face is a liminal space between your inner and outer worlds, and its job is to express how their overlap feels.👈

This means making an unlimited range of facial expressions, some of which will be U-G-L-Y, some of which might be scary, some of which WILL channel your mother, your grandmother, and somebody’s mother’s mother a few famines back.

The freedom to screw up your forehead, cluck your tongue, roll your eyes, and bare your teeth are all essential for living honestly.

If you try to express yourself only with words and not with your body, you’re falling into a classic trap of Neo-puritanical disembodiment. Whether you relate more to the pious church mom or the stoic yogini, that expressionless face is just another corset pulling your strings: suck it in! suck it in!

You can get off on that for a while because having control lends a sense of power, but at the end of the day you’re just willing yourself into a smaller space than you really need.

So without further ado, let’s channel our inner Hannah G and Give Good Face:

🌈 Pick a time each morning and/or night to treat yourself to
this mini face massage.
🌈 Thoughtfully select a soap that you’re happy to rub into your skin, this means read the ingredients, consider how it was made, etc.
It does NOT have to be fancy,
and if you’d rather just use water that is also 👍
🌈 Stand in front of your sink, put some of the soap in your hands,
and give it three deep sniffs.
As you take the smell in, say aloud,
“Confidence, Confidence, Confidence”
🌈 Take a moment to imagine that this soap is actually
a serum of pure confidence.
Vividly imagine it being squeezed from supernatural fruit growing on supernatural trees — imagine their color, their shape…
watch with your inner eyes as these fruits are methodically juiced
into a soap that can cleanse from your skin
all negative projections, judgments, and impositions.
🌈 Gently closing your eyes,
hum intuitively as you rub the soap onto your face,
relaxing the muscles of your brow, jaw, temples, lips…
and visualize judgy thoughts and feelings as a muck inside your body being pulled from wherever it is to the back of your face and then through the skin, by the magnetic power of this special soap,
which absorbs it automatically, leaving you energized and clear.
🌈 When you’re ready to rinse, mentally charge the water with the ability to seal this confidence inside you while creating a protective shield over your face that can repel unwelcome projections.
🌈 Repeat “My face is mine” three times, slowly.
🌈 Pat dry, pivot, and ogle the world how you want to!

Obviously this is a great exercise for those just starting out at self-hypnosis; it’s basically a deepening of something you probably do already. Feel free to play with the affirmations and the intention if there’s a more relevant issue you suspect this habit could help.

Practitioners, there are so many ways you can use this! I invite you to adapt and incorporate it into your work with those struggling with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), aging anxiety (own those wrinkles!), and even to market it toward performance artists looking to loosen up and racial justice activist groups wanting to proactively work on their whiteness (nothing says whiteness like an emotionally blank face — and that goes for all skin colors!). As always I wanna hear how y’all do with this one, so tag me on IG with your feedback (@she.shed.hypno) and #sheshedhypno.

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