"Can we all be beautiful?"
"...... Beauty, power and access."
This was the title of a panel discussion at the Whitechapel Gallery on Sunday afternoon.
I went because I was intrigued by the title. It was an interesting panel of five influential people mainly from the world of fashion, art and journalism. (One man, four women).
A Designer/Anthropologist/Philosopher; a supermodel with an MBE for services to women; an American fashion feminist; a fashion TV presenter/academic with an MBE for services to fashion and a TV art presenter who was the chair person.
Their ideas about the subject were innovative and were mainly challenging the concept of 'beauty and fashion' in relation to power and access. They focussed on the power that people who control the fashion world have over the rest of us. They were not afraid to identify this as mainly an established male hierarchy.
However for me they overlooked including the emotional consequences that the "consumerism" of the beauty and fashion industry have upon us all.
I believe we live in a society that values our "image" identity over our real identity.
I can see the young women in my family and amongst my friends struggling to find an authentic 'self' that is not being constantly swayed by external pressures. Social media, advertising and peer influences becoming more important than who they think they are or want to be.
It seems to me that what we look like, the clothes we wear, our age, our gender, our colour, our culture, our attractiveness and even maybe our 'usefulness', form the basis on which we are 'judged' by other humans.
That these judgments frame who we think we are.
... so I'm wondering whether these pressures create a fear about being "OK" that leads onto a form of obsessive consumerism that pays no regard to the needs of each other and our Planet?
Do we end up buying our "OK-ness" in order to fit in with an external social media image? Whether it's 'cool' clothes or 'youthful' make-up?
... and because it's an elusive image that we are trying to satisfy will we continue to chase after it, doomed to be disappointed?
Does it serve us whilst we're attempting to create a society of emotionally healthy, diverse human beings who respect and care for our environment?
My concern for us all is that instead of using an experience of real life to build a resilient, creative identity we are striving to meet the expectations of these specious external judgments.
We know the oppressive demands of capitalism has an unending appetite for consumerism!
Why aren't we pushing back?