I am in Washington DC this week for the Q Conference. I have gone every year for the past several and it is always a highlight of my year. I always meet a ton of really interesting people and this year was no different.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Chidi Achara, acclaimed fashion photographer. He gave a great talk about the power fashion has to shape culture for better or for worse. He stated there to be two primary values the fashion industry promotes through its ad campaigns: youth and sexuality. While there is nothing inherently wrong with youth or sexuality, there is something wrong when youthfulness is universally depicted as superior to maturity and sexuality when it is depicted in ways that are dehumanizing or violent. He showed images giving examples of both.
This reminded me of a documentary series I saw in college, Killing Us Softly. I imagine it is now a bit dated in its content, but still very powerful in highlighting ways the fashion and beauty industry have the propensity to objectify women (I would say men as well). This series opened my eyes to see just how toxic the fashion and advertising industry could be, but fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Chidi gave examples of brands that have used some of their power in ways that have been culturally generative. Where do you see the fashion industry creating goodness and beauty in the world? Where do you see destructive messaging?