A Desire For Real vs. Our Addiction To Fake
I’ve always been intrigued by the tension between real and fake. Like the $50,000 Rolex watches knocked off and sold on Canal Street for ten bucks. People don them, and every other conceivable counterfeit, in droves. To what end? I mean really, what’s the point? It’s junk.
That’s just one tiny example. Fake is everywhere. Fake lashes, fake boobs, fake hair. We’re dealing with a major artificial, imitation food problem. We’ve got Facebook simulating friendship, and of course Siri, Alexa et al. who so desperately tries to serve herself up as human. We’ve got reality TV, which is probably the strangest and hardest to figure out, because there, even reality is fake! But, perhaps the most offensive, at least for women, is the unrelenting, unforgiving, distortion of female beauty and body image. I could go on, but there's no need to when we've got Target and the crotchless model.
In contrast, American Eagle promises no more Photoshop. They launched #aeriereal, a campaign that leaves women alone, advertising, The Real You Is Sexy. You see freckles, moles, folds and more surprising, is you see what real skin actually looks like in a photograph. And their efforts are paying off. Sales are up... and climbing.
The pendulum appears to be swinging back the other way, even if it’s just a little bit, gradually. There are indications that the tide may be changing – that people may be feeling a deeper longing for what lies beneath the surface as they show a desire to be accepted as they are.
Look at Caitlyn Jenner and how hard she is championing for people similar to herself who do not feel society makes space for them. On its face, her mission is to pave the way for people to embrace their authentic selves. She seems passionate about sparing people outside the norm from a life of faking it. Beyond transgendered individuals, it's a message that extends to everyone struggling to be comfortable in his or her own skin.
And there have been other harbingers. Lane Bryant, typically more on the fringe than the mainstream, went after Victoria’s Secret with their I’m No Angel (#imnoangel) campaign. Not too surprising. They are a plus-size company. But it does draw into focus the contrast between the historical, singular standard of rail-thin “angels” against more zaftig, womanly figures where their fullness is portrayed as beautiful.
Dove broke this ground about ten years ago with their “campaign for real beauty,” which began the conversation about what real women look like.
To be clear, I like long and thin and therefore, have no issues with skinny. But I also love curves. There is beauty in both and that’s the point. We can look for, and find, beautiful in all kinds of women.
And it’s not just body image that’s being challenged. Real women have taken to the Internet bearing clean, unadorned faces. 30 Days No Makeup (#30daysnomakeup) invites women to post their pictures au natural. It’s cool. And the faces you see are all kinds of pretty.
But the best is Sonia Singh, the Australian mom who “upcycles” unwanted, discarded dolls. What you’ll see if you look at her before-and-after photos, aside from a wild transformation, is the stark contrast between dolls made to look like hookers and dolls made to look like little girls. Their popularity – over 16 million views on YouTube, 400,000+ fans on Facebook and an Etsy Store (all in just a few months) – suggest that something about these dolls has struck a chord the world over. Maybe it’s that their faces have been wiped clean of the garish makeup, or their feet have been remodeled to wear shoes, not pumps, or their outfits, which are handmade by Sonia’s mother, have been retooled for play and adventure. The juxtaposition puts the likes of Bratz and Barbie to shame for forcing their overly done-up, sexualized, unrealistic, hyper-feminine image on girls who are in the very stage of identifying with what it means to be female. You can enjoy more about Sonia, her story and her dolls at www.treechangedolls.com.au. You can also vote for Sonia on Etsy here. If anyone should win their Design Award, she should!
We live in a world of smoke-n-mirrors, deeply challenged to face reality, honesty and truth. But it feels like the veneer is starting to crack. I think it’s safe to say that makeunders are in order all around!
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