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| by Farida Abdel Malek

Fustany Talks: How I Learned That Magazine Photoshoots Are Art Not Reality

New to Fustany Talks? This is our latest series of articles where we have real conversations about topics that people are yet to open up about and discuss freely. Each of the Fustany Team members discusses it from their own personal experiences. Follow our #FustanyTalks for the latest content and join the conversation. You can also suggest our next topic here.

I have very vivid and fond memories of when I was growing up, looking at magazine covers and editorial shoots and finding something very beautiful and inspiring about them, finding something I wanted to see and find in myself. As I got older and my passion for makeup and fashion started expanding, I began to understand further why that spark was there from my childhood.

However, I also started to notice something problematic about my love for these campaigns, model's faces and designer pieces. I remember seeing photoshoots where a model would be lying on the perfect bed with the perfect coffee mug on the perfect nightstand and with the perfect hair and perfect natural looking makeup. I would think, wow, why doesn't my life look like that? She seems to have it all together and maybe if I bought that mug, changed to fancy bed sheets, did my hair, I would feel as good as looking at photo makes me feel. 

I realized that I was trying to achieve these looks, I wanted to look like that, feel like that and live like that...only to realize 'that' was not real. No matter which bag I bought, what makeup I had on or outfit I copied, I never achieved that feeling, I never felt like it was enough. How come my hair wasn't this perfect? My skin doesn't look like that and my body definitely doesn't look like her.

Editing, retouching, models’ bodies and magazine covers have been a topic of controversy for many years now, and naturally, you would think that my first reaction would be to join in the debate attacking the industry for portraying false images of ‘what a woman should look like’. However, that's not what i'm going to do today and before you start getting angry, here’s why…

I do believe that the industry does have a responsibility with the huge platform they have, to portray and present realistic, relatable and real images of women, which has been improving and thankfully happening. However, as I grew up and social media began to rise, I realized that the responsibility lies in my hands more than anyone else. I cannot sit back and expect the entire world to be perfect and not affect me negatively. I need to take it in my own hands to raise my awareness and understanding of the difference between art, fashion, model beauty and the real world and what I need to learn to love about myself.

The truth is the fashion Industry is often forgotten to be seen as an art form more than anything else. The sooner I realized that, the sooner I became aware that these campaigns and models were not out there to show me what I was supposed to look like. They are only a medium for portraying the work of artists (designers, makeup artists, stylists, hairstylists, photographers and editors). They are a representation of perfection, that even though is not realistic, is meant to inspire, boost creativity and make a mark on history.

This helped me notice a lot of things that maybe the industry needs to remind people of more; that behind these stunning campaigns and celebrity photoshoots are a huge team of editors, stylists, hairstylists, makeup artists, photographers and designers, all dedicating themselves to make it turn out as perfectly as possible. So how can I expect myself, with a few hours in front of the mirror to look anything like that? No amount of money, clothes, shoes, gym sessions or La Mer moisturizers can achieve that.

So what am I doing now? Well it's been a long, hard journey full of a self teaching and a lot of insecurities, that I would be very wrong to blame on the industry, because the truth is it came from a lot of places. Us humans have it in our nature to always look outside ourselves for things better and bigger.

My love for this art form has not at all lessened after these realizations, in fact I think It grew, because I understood its complexity and true meaning. I look at it now in admiration and take inspiration from it to help me find creativity in work, in life and in my style. But, and that's a big but, I must promise myself right now with all you guys reading, that I will not, under any circumstances, look at myself in the mirror and say I'm not good enough. We need to promise ourselves to work hard everyday to keep that healthy mindset going. That way, whether you're exposed to social media, models, celebrities, news, or even your friends that you think are better than you, you can rely on your self awareness to identify what's real, what's not and what's art.

The next Fustany Talks article will be about body image, how the media played a part in it, what society has programmed us to believe and our own responsibility and awareness towards it.


Main Image Credits: Instagram @emilyvartanian

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Tags: Fustany talks  Fustany team  Self-love  Beauty  Campaigns  Beauty campaigns  Fashion campaigns  Models  Photoshoots  Art