Words and pictures by Elana Emer
There has always been a standard made clear for how people should look. Standards for appearance, height, makeup, weight, skin colour and hair texture are upheld by so much media we consume—and the fashion industry’s role in that cannot be understated. At some point, fashion became less about self-expression and uniqueness and devolved to focus largely on fitting the mould. But the truth is that industry created a mould that so many of us will never fit into.
The media has a role to play, too. It acts as judge, jury and executioner to those who put themselves in the spotlight. They maintain a status quo of people who are unhappy with themselves and continue to consume biased media in hopes that they eventually achieve those standards. Social media and the increasing digitization of information makes all of this more accessible, but it can be counterproductive and even harmful.
It’s not like going to an art gallery or reading a newspaper. In those circumstances, content is curated and purposeful, but on social media, we’re just bombarded with images, en masse, until we become so overwhelmed with our own mass-consumption that we no longer realize what we’re consuming. While we scroll passively, the implications stay with us. If I see a few photos of marginalized people or causes on my feed, I might think I’ve appreciated them fully, but when they’re sandwiched in between thousands of posts of mainstream “ideals”, they easily get overpowered by the more prevalent content.
So this photo essay speaks to that. It explores themes around inequitable fashion coverage and what we take away from it, whether we like it or not.