Everything around us in our daily lives is geared towards getting us to be what companies want us to be. They want us to buy their products. End of. Because for them it’s all about profit in an uncertain world. Advertising is aggressive and relentless.
All around us, all day, everywhere you are bombarded by messages about being fitter, healthier, to have shinier hair, better skin, to look younger, thinner, to be more fashionable, to be in with the in-crowd, to need the latest technology.
And I’m sure I am not the only one who is getting sick of these messages that seem to be designed to make us feel bad enough about ourselves that we’ll want what they are offering. As if it holds the key to making us happier and more accepted.
I don’t think I am affected by the media in that way. I never buy a product based on the advertisement. I am never fooled by clever advertising. Even so, the messages are still there. And it’s relentless. When you work in fashion, that message is quadrupled, so subliminally you are affected.
I enjoy what I do but I am aware that it belongs in the above categories. I love creating beautiful, flattering, unique clothes and I love seeing the amazing photographs that come back when they are used in shoots and are sold on to their new owners. But the work that goes into researching, planning, organising and everything else that feeds into my job means I am constantly looking at images that represent all the things in the media I detest. Images so photoshopped and so stylised and so remarkably fake that they are often a poor depiction of their original subject. Images that I can never possibly aspire to be – and don’t even want to be. And yet, I still love those results.
Whilst I think I am largely over any major body issues I once had, I have a feeling the high number of images I look at are having an effect on my mental wellbeing. Because I don’t have internet at work at the moment, most of my admin based work is done in the evenings. Every evening. At least 5 days a week. And it’s not good for me. Of this I am sure.
Detaching from that world is important. Getting a level playing ground after hours with regards to people and what really matters. I love what I do. I really do. But in the great scheme of things does it really matter? I am a very non-materialistic person. I don’t enjoy clothes shopping, I don’t get giddy over high heel shoes and I have no interest in hair and makeup. So why do I design clothes?
Clothes to me are like fine art. It’s a creative thing that I do. It’s not because I want to see my work on size zero 6ft models. It’s because I like making clothes. And no matter what the body shape or the persons lifestyle, if they are happy with what they are wearing because I made it for them, then that is a plus for me.
Yes my work does generally end up on tall, slim, female models and that is something I think about often. I could have picked plus sized girls, or alternative models, or short models. But I didn’t. And I have no explanation for that other than that this is the particular stereotype I opted for. My designs could and do sit on anyone. It just so happens this is what my muse looks like.
I feel like I am being a traitor to my own trade by not embracing the industry. How can you not be interested in those things and design fashion? But it turns out I am not the only one. In fact, it’s everywhere and we’re all reconciling it in our own way.
The tricky thing is balancing your morals and your ideals (your lack of materialism) with the realisation that what you do is contributing to the things you are most concerned about. Regardless of whether you are designing for size zero or plus size. Whether it’s organic or renewable, you are still selling a materialistic lifestyle, a thing that contributes to all the other things you are concerned about.
How do you resolve that in your own mind? I have no idea. I haven’t got there yet, but it’s something that is preying on my mind more often. So I Google it and try to work it out.
If I find the answer, I will let you know.