My mother was a glamorous entrepreneur who owned a hairdressing salon and designer fashion boutique when I was growing up. Women wanted to look good and she was their go-to girl. So it made sense to me that she had to be a walking advertisement for her business. Always perfectly made up and never a hair out of place, driving to work in her red Mercedes Benz with an Isadora Duncan scarf wrapped around her hair she turned more than a few heads.
She had several wardrobes that spilt out of my parents’ bedroom and into the rest of our house. The guest bedroom wardrobe held my mother’s winter collection, while the large wooden gilded kist in the corner held her spring collection. Another wardrobe in another part of the house held all her hats and scarves. It took her about two hours to get ready for work in the morning. Her lavish dressing room, lined with mini shelves displaying her ornate bottles of designer perfumes, face creams and nail polish, was completely off-limits to kids unless she was present. It was like a mini beauty salon in there. In the corner sat a growing pile of glossy Vogue magazines begging to be worshipped.
As I emerged from my awkward teenage years into a young adult, I too thought it was my job to look good all the time. After all, if you neglected to look good all the time (as my mother had tirelessly preached) how were people meant to like you? My image of the world was shaped by the reed-thin, perfect models I saw in my mother’s Vogue magazines. Not a blemish on their faces and not an ounce of cellulite on their bodies. They were perfect in every sense of the word. And to be liked you had to be perfect.
Fast forward a few decades and nothing has changed. Instead, Vogue magazines have now been replaced by Instagram. And while the “Supermodels” might not be dominating the world any more, they have been replaced by self-proclaimed Insta models, influencers and famous actresses advertising the latest L’Oreal range. “Like” has become the new currency that we use to measure our success in this fake world. Youtube is filled with how-to-pose-on-Insta videos. The pressure is still on to look perfect and to lead a perfect life. After all, not only are your friends watching but so is the rest of the world.
Let’s stop to absorb that reality and think about the impact it has on the planet.
The pressure to look good all the time is accelerating Fast Fashion, which is the 2nd largest polluter in the world. Do we ever stop to think about the immigrant factory workers struggling to feed their families on the low wages that the fashion houses pay in a quest to stay cheap? Or the number of pollutants in our water systems from the toxic fabric dyes used? Or the number of clothes dumped in landfills around the world that never break down?
Next, let’s think about the impact this has on our self-esteem.
Young adolescents are highly impressionable. They are growing up in the glossy and fake Instagram world where nothing is real. When we look at those fake, photoshopped images we feel bad about ourselves because they look perfect and we know that we are not perfect. So what do we do? We diet and exercise more, we buy tons of makeup to get that perfect airbrushed look, we inject fillers into our lips so we can look like the Kardashians and we pose, pose, pose and post the images on Instagram, checking our phones every few hours to see how many likes we have. Get that look right, sista! And if in doubt about the kind of pose you should strike, visit Youtube for some tips.
This madness has to stop! We have to move out of the fake world we have constructed to keep the consumerism monster alive, and we have to move into the real world where we start taking better care of the planet and of ourselves. And taking better care of ourselves does not include more makeup, fast fashion, fillers and plastic surgery. It includes embracing who we are and being ok with imperfection.
In 2015 some very significant laws were passed in France that addressed this very problem. (Israel adopted a similar law at the same time.) Runway models needed a health certificate in order to work and all fashion magazines were required to stipulate which images had been digitally retouched. France recognised that the fashion industry was significantly contributing to self-esteem problems and they did something about it.
Why do we think it’s ok to continue projecting fake images of perfect-looking people when the majority of the world’s population look nothing like the models on Instagram? What exactly are we trying to achieve?
Insta blogger Chessie King is passionately tackling the fake world of retouched Insta images and is bringing attention to this detrimental practice. She proudly displays fat rolls and cellulite in her Instagram images and shows us that there is nothing wrong with looking natural and real.
Fashion will only ever be ok when it is not harming us or the planet. We can embrace sustainable fashion and become conscious of our fashion footprint. There are a ton of sustainable fashion brands popping up and they need our support. And while we are supporting sustainable fashion and ditching our addiction to cheap, fast fashion let’s ask ourselves: do we really need a 4-season wardrobe? Do we really need 50 pairs of shoes?
Let’s not replace one problem with another. Less is more. We can make better choices by buying fewer, higher quality garments so we have less in our wardrobes. Our cosmetic drawers also need tackling and change. Let’s support sustainable makeup and skincare brands while we’re at it.
Read our Sustainable Fashion Report – WHY FAST FASHION MUST END for tips on how to become more sustainable (it includes a list of the 10 coolest sustainable fashion brands plus details of the exciting Ibiza Fashion Festival 2020 that totally embraces sustainability) – http://www.theplanetcalls.com/sustainable-fashion-report
Now is the time to hit that reset button. Sustainable is the New Black.
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