Friday 28 October 2016

Angela Scanlon: Keeping it real

We want role models who abandon the airbrush and show us their flaws

Angela Scanlon

Published 28/06/2015 | 02:30

Angela Scanlon: We want to see 'real women'.
Angela Scanlon: We want to see 'real women'.

Real women. We want to see 'real' women. Women who represent us, who are the same as us, who look and feel and seem like us. Women who share our problems, our joys and our lives. We are not content anymore with a nameless face no matter how beautiful, a clotheshorse with a vacant stare will not sell anything to us anymore. We want more.

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In a world with a permanent filter, we are keen to peel back the layers. The ones who are prepared to reveal themselves and their lives appear to be the ones we cling to. They seem brave and vulnerable, their ability to unveil themselves - warts and all - seems oddly inspiring, if a little reckless. We want it, at least we say we do, we beg for magazine covers and ad campaigns and TV shows to give us stars we can relate to, ones who are flawed and imperfect and just like us.

Of course, mostly they don't give that. Unless the absence of this person is absolutely laughable. Lena Dunham, Rumer Willis… they are women of our generation. Women who are smart and hilarious and brilliant and beautiful. It just so happens they're not a size eight, so when they appear on that cover the story is a little different. The shot is cropped, it is never a full-length shot so the unruly 'curves' are usually hidden inside like some sort of seedy porn that isn't really appropriate for consumption on a shelf.

Yet we want that sort of realness, we crave it and celebrate it; maybe we need it. There is a collective rejoicing when Beyoncé pictures emerge that show her with a hairy upper lip and some mild acne; Cindy Crawford with cellulite almost breaks the internet; it's like we need to see these perfect people with their perfect lives unmasked. To know that they're really like us, just maybe a bit luckier. But mostly these pictures come to public attention by mistake, these super-human brands and their teams protect their images to protect the paycheck, to keep the untouchables just that - untouchable. But then, you'll get the renegades. Stars who are happy to disprove the theory that they are all just genetically blessed in every way. They get sick of the amount of work it takes to maintain that image or they feel sorry for us and give us a little glimpse behind the curtain so we can sleep easier at night. Tyra Banks has never been shy and despite an incredibly successful career as a supermodel (back when that meant something), there's a sense that she's actually one of us. Gawky as a teen, that sense of not quite being there, has never left and so she can somehow relate to us and us to her. Kind of. Last week she posted a picture of herself in a 'raw' state. Not hungover with a sugar headache and hair that smells of smoke, but her - clean as a whistle barefaced, exposed and naked. Her face that is.

" I am. Raw. And there YOU are... looking at me, studying this picture. Maybe you're thinking, 'Whoa, she looks ROUGH'. And if you are, great! You deserve to see the REAL me. The REALLY real me. #RawAndReal."

Refreshing yet terrifying. Not her face with her dark circles and imperfections, but the fact that it was headline news and sent the internet into meltdown.

We, too, can have it all

Summer time and the weather is fine. Actually it's not really but yet we still talk about it. There is nothing new about our rainy grey island and its unpredictable, often non-existent, summers. I was working in Puglia (Italy) recently where they get 15 days of rain a year and grow over 400 crops. It was wonderful and abundant and tasty as hell and I thought, if Ireland had the climate, it would be hands down the best place on the planet. A global leader, the envy of the world, beautiful and inspired, then I remembered that it's exactly that but better craic. We have everything, if we had the weather too, we'd be unbearably smug, like the French.

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