All is Not Beauty
But it is good anyway.
Housekeeping: I have had an influx of new subscribers recently, so welcome all! This is a teaser/preview for a post you can read in full if you become a paid-tier subscriber for $5 a month or $50 a year. As you can see if you browse the site, I prioritize consistently providing paid content for my subscribers. I intend to keep up my pace of at least 3-5 exclusive pieces per month, along with any free content. Readers like you are providing a considerable percentage of my income as a writer/teacher right now. As we come up on the end of year, please consider treating yourself or a friend to some takes that I like to think you won’t find anywhere else. Thanks!
She was only 37, but she looks at least 45 in the video. The 3-minute ad, presented by fashion brand La Maison Simons, has now introduced over a million people to Jennyfer Hatch: a woman who wanted to die, but also wanted to say that life was beautiful. In her memory, it is titled, “All Is Beauty.”
YouTube allows you to see which part of a video is the “most played.” In this case, it’s the very first few seconds, in what appears to be a small hospital room. Hatch’s wearily soothing voiceover reflects, “Dying in a hospital is not what’s natural, that’s not what’s soft. In these kind of moments, you need softness.” Suddenly, the camera pulls out, and the “hospital” turns out to be a fake set carried away on the ocean. It’s a masterly sequence. The people who did this know what they’re doing.
The rest of the ad charts a mesmeric, dream-like course through the last days of Jennyfer Hatch’s life, when the fashion company arranged for her and her friends to make a variety of high-budget final memories for the camera. Jennyfer, who suffered from Ehlers Danlos syndrome, welcomed the chance to collaborate on a project that would make an artistic statement out of her choice to commit assisted suicide through Canada’s MAiD program.
She looks fragile yet luminous, beautiful in the natural way of women who don’t think about their beauty. She seems to love life intensely, even as she is preparing to ask for death. “Last breaths are fragile,” her voiceover says, as she blows and pops a giant bubble in the blinding sun. In another scene, we see her sitting in a makeshift tattoo parlor in the woods, getting what looks like an infinity sign burned into her skinny bicep. We see other flashes of her handing out cheesecake, listening to cello music, throwing her head back and laughing in slow motion. It’s all so precise. So crafted. The final shot is an aerial view of a beach where she has painstakingly traced out elaborate spirals in the sand with a fat stick. And so they meet at the edge, the water and the spiral-sand, the natural and the unnatural.