On April 11th of this year, a cheeky 47-year-old unemployed, single, cat lady who had cared for her dying mother took the stage on Britain’s Got Talent. Initially greeted by snickering and enough rolling of eyes to turn the building over, Susan Boyle blew away every cynical, judgmental, and painfully shallow audience member and judge when she gave an awe-inspiring and flawless voice to “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables.
BCT’s Amanda Holden called Ms. Boyle’s performance the “biggest wake up call.” It should also be a wake up call to every person who assumed Boyle’s appearance was any indication of her talent. More importantly, it is a wake up call for those around the world who have talent: it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, what you do for a living, or that you don’t look like a supermodel. If you have talent and you take that talent outside your shower (backyard, studio, or local theater), grand things can happen.
Our looks-based society often confuses beauty with talent. Many of those who were seeing but hadn’t yet heard Ms. Boyle’s voice assumed the way she looked (which was, for the record, well-kept and nicely dressed) was a fair measure of her talent. It was unanimously decided — before she was even heard — there was no talent before them that night.
Such is the stigma that meets the voices, talents, skills, portfolios, educations, and resumes of some of the most hardworking and industrious individuals on the planet. Taken at face value and without benefit of even the slightest chance to prove themselves, many an unfortunate is cast aside and out the door; their potential contributions lost in a sea of rejection that simply cannot compete with the irregular measuring stick that is our myopic obsession with beauty and youth - until now.