Friday, 1 November 2013

"See Why We Have An Absolutely Ridiculous Standard Of Beauty In Just 37 Seconds" My Response...

Have you seen this?

See why we have an absolutely ridiculous standard of beauty in 37 seconds

It's all over facebook at the moment.

So what do you think about it? Lots of irate comments on there I have seen.

The fact of the matter is, however, this is not new. Every time we think "does this colour suit me?" we're indulging in this sort of behaviour, just not on quite as big a scale.

This piece is a really, really extreme example of what goes on. It's been very carefully and well tailored to illustrate it's point - it wouldn't get the point across if it wasn't so dramatic. Of course all of these things happen, they happen every day in real life when we smile to have our photo taken - we want to show ourselves in the best light possible.

Technology and expertise do wonders to create an impression. I had a conversation about the current trend of "Kim Kardashian stylee ooodles of make up" fashion that exists currently with a client the other day. She was going to a halloween fancy dress party as Jessica Rabbit which required a generous application of make up. She (and I) was amazed at the transformation. She looked amazing, really amazing but not really like her. The finish was similar to a look that is very popular in the Asian bridal market. Beautiful, but not really them.

You see, you can change bone structure with make up. Well, the appearance of it.

As part of the beauty industry, from time to time my conscience gives me a poke. I hate the mascara adverts "lash inserts used", but at least they now admit that. The shampoo adverts with hair pieces. It's not right.

But then isn't that the same as placing a car against a backdrop none of us are ever likely to see in our lifetime in order to reinforce the brand image the company wants us to perceive? Not really.

The whole world is a marketing exercise. We are all marketing ourselves, every day. Manufacturing an image of ourselves that we want to portray to the world.

As a parent of a young woman (certainly when she was younger) I was more concerned about the images she was being force fed in relation to behaviour. The music videos targeting kids of that age using overtly sexual imagery, dress and behaviour. That's of more concern to be fair. I think Mylee Cyrus has an awful lot to answer for at the moment. Well, her publicity machine does. 

In the words of the song "I believe that beauty magazines promote low self esteem"... hmmmm. it really depends. 

If we can teach our young people (and, indeed, ourselves) to look a little deeper into the images their subjected to, I think we'll have very little to worry about. Magazines and images are created to illustrate a point. Exactly the same as the video above. That has been manufactured to demonstrate it's point to the same degree as the model's image has been manufactured. 

The final image of the model is not "real" but neither is the video. It's extreme, to the extreme. Let's just calm down a bit here.

As responsible citizens, parents or not, we have a duty to see what it real and what is not. Images, art, film, TV and even real life is all manufactured to portray an image, a story, a concept. The un-edited reality is very very different. The images of show homes in home magazines? Edited. Lit, shot, buffed, enhanced. Real people do not live like that. We have to be aware of what goes into creating the "little piece of perfection" as I call it when I do photo shoots.

Take this for example... one of my favourite shots.

This image of lovely Lizzy is a dramatic and beautiful shot. But Lizzy doesn't really look like that. And (alright, this is Chi, not Lizzy being shot) but this is what the shoot looks like to create that image...

I think the difficulty comes when the augmented images are designed to trick. "If you use this product, your skin will look like this" has been used since products existed. Is it any different now because technology has moved on?

(I anticipate that model had a full face of slap for that shot.)

If we can see and teach the next generations to see that these images are beautiful, but they are just that - images, then we're on to a winner. We have to keep perspective here - we've all done our hair and looked in the mirror before we went out this morning, to make sure we look okay. Art and technology does the same thing, but better.

The same as we don't want our girls to think that going out without make up on is a social disfigurement, we don't want them to compare themselves like for like to highly engineered images, created for a reason.

My favourite thought process when I catch myself thinking these impure "cor, I wish I looked that beautiful" thoughts is that I remind myself that if Erin O'Connor was lying in this undecorated bedroom, covered in brown dogs, smudged mascara from the shower, wearing pyjamas with gravy on, by the light of a head torch because her other half is sleeping noisily next to her, she probably wouldn't look that beautiful either. 


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