Fighting Against The Status Quo
The future is upon us. We live in a world where all images must be questioned. But one young girl, a rising star from New Zealand, is fighting against the status quo and sharing a message that she hopes will encourage young girls and others to feel more comfortable in their own skin.
A few weeks ago, Lorde, a singer with a couple of mature sounding hits that belie her tender age, caused something of a stir when she tweeted two pictures of herself. The images were a side by side comparison, one from a magazine, had been photoshopped into that oddly inhuman looking state of perfection that we seem finally to have accepted as 'real', the other an un-retouched photo that showed her acne scars, and other blemishes which confirm her as a living, breathing member of the human race.
Now, she has resurfaced on Twitter and shared an image from a Canadian magazine which she alleges has photoshopped a 'new nose' on to her face.
The renewed debate comes at a time when the internet is abuzz with chatter about whether Beyonce has photoshopped a 'thigh gap' (a space between the thighs where, on most human bodies, the legs would typically connect -- a look popular in fashion and on Tumblr, where the #thinspo and #pro-ana tags are wreaking havoc on the body images of young girls).
Beyonce is one of the most famous woman in the world. For better or worse, her body has been celebrated by nearly every magazine, website and armchair observer who comments on that sort of thing. The fact that a woman of her stature might have created a false image that would cause young girls to feel ashamed of their own normal, healthy bodies, is frankly terrifying.
Lorde's music carries a message that is positive. It shuns materialism and preaches the value of inner happiness over the unattainable priorities advanced by so much pop culture garbage.
There was a time when it seemed like it was okay to posit Beyonce as a good role model for progressive young women. Unfortunately, it looks like those days are over, and if we're being honest, that idea may have always been ill considered in the first place.
We live in a Post-Beyonce world, and we're better off for it.
I don't believe that Lorde can singlehandedly rescue all of America's young girls from the torturous anxiety that results from body image confusion, eating disorders and distorted conceptions of adolescent sexuality, but I do think that it is healthy to have a force of positivity represented in a sea of overwhelmingly negative influences.
Here is a final, hopeful thought to consider:
You may recall recently that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine, despite the fact that Anna Wintour, Vogue's editor, reportedly fiercely dislikes Kim Kardashian. The reason she caved and put Kimye on the cover, is that due to a huge social media following along with a sizable TV viewership, Kardashian has a much bigger reach than Vogue.
I can't be bothered to look, but I think Vogue has a circulation somwhere around 1 and a half million readers per month. Kardashian reaches 24 million people.
OK, now imagine that Lorde becomes even more famous than she is now, as seems increasingly likely to happen. Forget Vogue magazine, just think about the reach that she will have to affect young girls' outlook. Think about how many future pop stars her message could influence.
If we encourage positivity and empower bold, independent voices who advocate positivity through social media, we will give voice to a population that is, for now, underrepresented.
Instead of Kimye on the cover of Vogue, or whatever magazine kids care about these days, maybe we'll have a starlet who is proud of her imperfections, the natural, beautiful characteristics that make her an individual. The evidence that shows us that to be human is to struggle.
Being perfect is difficult. You need Photoshop to do it. Being imperfect is even more difficult, you need a big platform to stand out among all the airbrushed garbage in this toxic media environment.