I battle against the conspiracy theories trending in my mind.
Right now, I can see a pernicious army forming before my eyes. An enormous threat the whole world seems to be ignoring.
Terrifying doubles swarm everywhere, and we watch them multiplying without saying anything, without even worrying that this is happening.
We don’t really understand their intentions. We can’t yet imagine the impact of their sinister idea. All we know is that they are multiplying at high speed and they hold sway on the web, thanks to tutorials and selfies. Well, I’m here to warn you. Take me seriously. This army, comprising at least a hundred and eighteen million soldiers, is answerable to the Ministry of Instagram, and its chief of staff is Kim Kardashian. She is their prophet, their supreme guide, their evening star.
It’s ironic, given that her career took off thanks to someone literally ‘standing to attention’: the singer Ray J, her celebrity sex-tape partner.
These millions of toy soldiers, scattered throughout the world, seem to be obsessed with one thing: mirroring their idol. The same ‘look’, the same haircut, the same layers of makeup, not forgetting the lascivious demeanour, the moody pout and the deliberately blank gaze.
What are they searching for? What do they want from us?
Well, I’ve got a hunch. They want to standardize the world. They want to laminate us. They want to lock us inside a Snapchat filter. They’re trying to erase every single one of our faults, even those that don’t exist. Soon, insidiously, they’ll convince us that what makes us beautiful, what constitutes our identity, needs erasing. Secretly, they want to Photoshop our lives.
For them, anything specific to us must be eradicated; and if we follow them in their murky enterprise we’ll become fragile, unable to benefit from what makes us particular.
Not only that, but they’re trying to stop us smiling (yes, they systematically sulk in their photos,haveyou noticed?)
What would a world look like where we all have Kim Kardashian’s face?
We’d have her empty gaze. We’d have her hair that changes according to her mood. We’d also have her abnormally curvaceous rear assets with a waist that’s desperately slim by comparison. We’d have her lips ready to explode and our chest would be thrust forwards, just as hers is, with so much fervour it would overshadow us in our own meetings.
Many people, women, and girls try incurably to conform to this model. But by the time they’ve got there, Kim K and her generals will already have moved on to something else. She’ll be leading her soldiers down another path, towards another trend, which in all likelihood won’t be about accepting, or being natural, still less about self-awareness.
So, inevitably, we’ll all end up looking like each other. We will address one another as ‘Comrade’ while tapping each other on the shoulder. By the way, did you know that the Turkish word for Comradeis Kardash? Do you think that’s just another coincidence? (Let’s just mark it up to my paranoia.)
We’ll become those Beforesand Aftersthat make your jaw drop.
My taste for conspiracy theories is one thing, but you have to admit the overall project is depressing.
These days, you can’t watch a single beauty tips video, or a make-up tutorial, without landing on a double. What can I say about these caricatures? Except that there are some genuine failures out there. Some are about as credible as a ‘Chanel’ handbag, laid out on the ground at the outskirts of the souk in Marrakech. Still, I have to admit I’ve almost fallen for this trick once or twice, when confronted with the cheek and determination of the handbag seller who assures me that it’s ‘the real thing, yes, yes, wallah, it’s an original,100% leather’. (This salesman also trains macaques, and is highly skilled at making monkeys dance to Gnawa music).
How to join the resistance? That’s my question. And I’ve drawn up a formal demand:
Because if we don’t resist this Kardashianisation, we won’t be smiling any more. Not in photos or in front of the mirror: we’ll be nothing but the sad reflection of a filtered and superficial society.
Beauty lies in particularity, in originality, in that which differentiates us and constitutes each and every one of us.
Making yourself more beautiful means looking more like yourself. It doesn’t mean looking like everyone else, let alone someone random.
I’m not declaring war on ‘Chanel’handbag sellers here. I’m not declaring war on the YouTubers who fail to explain why their cosmetic surgery procedures increase at the same rate as their subscribers. I have nothing against women who, instead of revealing their own beauty, disguise themselves as ‘understudy princesses’ for magazinesby resorting to tricks and artifices.
Simply put, I’m inviting each and every one of you to resist this on-trend army that distances us from ourselves, from what we find beautiful and desirable.
Let’s resist the model of beauty that’s imposed on us.
And if we resist, we’ll never forget to differentiate between a real Chanel and a crude imitation. We’ll always know how to distinguish a natural woman from a sad, filtered doll.
And the macaques will carry on dancing in Gnawa music Marrakesh, and we’ll find them beautiful too.
Faïza Guène was born in Bobigny in 1985. She was discovered by a French teacher at a writing workshop, and wrote her first novel Kiffe-Kiffe Demain (Just Like Tomorrow) at the tender age of 17. It was a huge success, selling 500,000 copies, and went on to be translated in over 26 countries. She has now published five novels, and maintains a lightness of tone as she continues to dissect society with relevance and humour.
Translation by Sarah Ardizzone
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