Mirror, mirror on the wall…is there something you can do about my ugly black face?

 | Fri 10 May 2013 14:20 ICT

Since the inception of Instagram and other similar beguiling ego-apps I wonder if there has been a trend in smashing mirrors. Mirrors we might not look so fondly at anymore, now being somewhat thorns in our sides, and in spite of them being by our sides for centuries they’re arguably becoming surplus to requirements for many an impressionable tart who prefers how they look online. Social media has rendered reality a bit of a downer. Mirrors, or honest reflections, have become a kind of Achilles Heel in the face of new technology.

Instagram’s co-founder Kevin Systrom was voted by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people of 2013. That assessment has been critised by some media for being an undeserved accolade, but perhaps influential has been taken to mean important. He is rightly up there in my opinion, sitting on a giant mound of his born-pliant target market, along with a plethora of other disastrously influential techno-Gods who’ve created highly addictive junk that they are now pushing around your neighbourhood. Under the influence of Instagram, and other similar feel-good apps, hundreds of millions of people are getting younger, more attractive, less portly, and fearing rejection not quite as intensely as they once did thanks to these magical gadgets. Roll up, roll up, the circus is in town and we can all be part of it for a few $, £, €, B. You just can’t leave the house… reality bites.

It’s a drag being yourself these days when the violent fetish to look a certain way, apropos what’s deemed cool by un-cool people, is more than just a fad of the gang at the end of the street. Our friends are now omnipresent, they’re all over the world, and they are all looking better all the time. Looking good has never been so hard. It’s become necessary for many a young buck to have an app onside to help make them look like something they are verily not. Instragram already has over 100 million users and their phony photos have been shared more than 5 billion times, each picture desperately hoping to be ‘liked’.

Instagram emboldens the spirit of the damaged online community. Why? Because it can make tanned skinned Thais look as pale as English bog roll; it turns ageing blue eyes a fetching hue of innocent hazel and vacuums-up the freckles around them; wrinkles and crinkles are ironed-out at the push of a button; we can reduce hair loss, accelerate cuteness, or inflate mammary glands. If the 80s beckoned Julia and Wayne to the surgery for cosmetic transfiguration, the modern day online yokel can go through much less pain in their transformation. Didn’t we learn from the curse of Dorian Grey? I guess you don’t get that kind of premonitory education from playing Candy Crush.

Has a generation ever been this insecure? Humanity might be at an all time low in terms of self-confidence, we are as imperfect as we have ever been. As a result we are vastly exploitable, a hive of quivering defects primed to be sold a fix, an application. Our medication has already been tragically devised by people who are overly educated to our infinite faults, the masters of profit who went to university for three years to learn how to make something of no value cost a lot of money. Many of the guys on Time’s most influential list, yeah, influential like AIDS.  

It’s great for business, all this insecurity, it creates a flourishing economy, and we love that don’t we. Old timers you may doubt it’s really all that bad, but you’re not fully functional in this new world of super-superficiality. Your children are being brainwashed and statistically they are reading much less while their humanities departments shrink as fast as marketing departments grow. A bug runs through the veins of social media as virulent as the Ebola virus. Prepare yourself for legions of sick, addicted impressionable users around the globe, who will watch a thousand times more Britain’s Got Talent than they will read books about such things as to why people watch too much Britain’s Got Talent.

The dumbing down of society is perfidious like never before. This is not accidental, but neither is there a Grand Master in a hooded cloak giving out orders to unpaid interns. The grand master is just a crap feature of capitalism. It plans obsolescence, it over supplies us with things we don’t need. Marketing now, because of social media, has never had a stronghold on us citizens like this – call it a public relations Full Nelson, or worse, a transorbital lobotomy.

Thailand, in my opinion, where beauty is commodified perhaps more belligerently than anywhere on earth (I haven’t been to Scotland recently), is in big trouble. Take for example this: Thais are Mongolid, and predominantly dark/brown skinned. This is what the majority – and it really is a huge majority – of people don’t want to look like. Now that’s an open wound. An industry of helplessness thrives here, and there’s not enough critical reaction to stop this wound from blowing up like a perforated ulcer.

Brown skinned girls in Thailand have never been more unverifiably white skinned, due to pixels, not pigments. That doesn’t mean there is no need for the tangible whitening products, it just means tangible and intangible have teamed up. Even the hardiest of lasses who don’t conform to the rigid norms of what is aesthetically championed succumb to white power. Black is out, it’s ugly, it’s not even evolved according to Verena L-Gluta Berry Plus beauty drink’s now controversial TV advert.

In this coarse and despicable piece of film a Thai female doctor explains to a tetchy black bear that they evolved into white bears but only after millions of weeks. Humans are fortunate she explains to have things like whitening drinks because they can become white after a few bottles of Verena. The woman’s father then comes into the doctor’s office and he is a black man, a Thai black man, but with a foreign accent. He’s essentially a negro in Thailand. In the family picture shown behind him the doctor is also black (now she’s drip white) showing the bear that you don’t always have to be a ‘nigger’. You can change, just as she did. Phew!

The ad has been accused of racism. No shit. But the insult is not only to black people, it’s to people in general, and especially, ironically, to the market of beauty drink buyers. Verena are not only insulting negros, they are taking the piss out of all of us, as are most other beauty products sold the world over, from penis pumps to nipple creams, to hairless legs guarantees to fuller lips pledges. Our imperfections are limitless, and these products, along with their online helpers such as Facebook and Instagram – call them the icing on the cake – are always there to pick up the pieces for a little bit of our money. Except we’ll never look right, we can’t be fixed, and we will forever fall for those 10 Ways to be more Attractive to Men/Women stories.

What we most crave for, which I think is an easy life imbued with comfort, love, recognition, laughter, safety, security, is being robbed from us by marketing ideologues who like rapists prey on the meek; and the meek are getting meeker. We’ve become enslaved to a fiction about what is right and what we need, that is created by people whose job it is make us feel bad, and helpless without them. It’s a debt we don’t need, something we really might think about turning away from. Narcissism is lonely business, it’s never really true love anyway, just loads of doubt.


James Austin Farrell