This week’s SPC has been a bit of an adventure. I had one idea to begin with and ended up embarking on a totally different tangent- first because my Photoshop skills are still at an amateur level, and secondly because the piece took on a life of its own. Let me walk you through the process of what I call, “The dangers of glamour and the Michael Jackson Syndrome.”
When I started this week, I was inspired by this Dove commercial, brought to my attention by Superkimbo
which I am sure many of you have already seen. I was going to write about how beauty and glamour have become synonymous and how both have become commodified in our capitalistic culture, to the point where advertising agencies and the companies they work for often dictate glamour and in-turn beauty to us.
I wanted to take a very plain picture of myself and go through the process of enhancing it so it would fit the cultural definition of glamorous and perfect. I know what you are thinking: the Imperfection prompt is long gone, but somehow trying to be glamorous comes with a sense of perfection.
I took two pictures, one just plain ole me zit and all-totally un-enhanced; then I took another shot where I tidied up a bit and opened the picture with Photoshop. I started simply by removing blemishes, smoothing out the skin, reducing some hair on my eyebrows, but then suddenly I started to shrink my ears and nose; I started to make my shoulders bigger, when suddenly I realized I had created a monster. There is a fine line between the commodifed glamour they use to sell us products and what I call Michael Jackson Syndrome.
In the digital age reality can become so tweaked as to blur the lines of what is real and manufactured. Glamour is artificial. It is designed to enchant and awe; it should be bizarre and out of the ordinary. It is dressing up and recreating who we are. The issue that worries me, and I hope this picture illustrates, is that we must separate the notion of glamour and beauty, because beauty is honest; it is pure, un-enhanced and real where as glamour is the opposite. Glamour can be fun, but we cannot continue to let the corporations dictate what beautiful is and what it is not. If we do, we may end up in a world where we all look like this:
When we really should look like this:
Note: I am a big fan of Michael Jackson’s music and not the type of person who enjoys simply making fun of the man because of his spiral into the bizarre. However, I hope it is obvious that my need to tamper with my features for this piece can fittingly be called The MJ Syndrome. Next time you make fun of the King of Pop for no other reason than it is easy, please listen to Bilie Jean, Human Nature, or anything of his Dangerous album, and give this talented artist a break.