The 21st century is a full blown teenager now. Like any young teen, sure signs are surfacing of how this emerging era is rebelling against the established norms. We are continually redefining what it means to be a citizen in this unique age; fantasy and science-fiction have edged their way into popular culture, organic food has made its way onto the shelves of mega-grocery stores, and everyday shoppers have taken their places as models on Free People’s online site. Beginning last Friday and for two weeks following, FP has extended the experimental user-generated content section of it’s online shop, FP Me. Anyone who sends in a pic donning their merch can be clickable and linked to purchases, just like professional models on the site.
Personal style is one of the ways we express and define ourselves as individuals. Inspiration comes from the recognition of a reflective fragment of who we are embedded in the twinkling haze of who we want to be--professional, carefree, sexy. The models who pose in these styles are people who the industry has chosen to present as the ideal of perfection. Models, beautiful people that they are, represent only a select percentage of the types of beauty that make up the population. Even top models are sick of having only one idea of beauty being perpetually and exclusively dominant. By incorporating a spectrum of self submitted photos linked to shoppable merch, FP is creating a vision of attainable beauty through the haze. Along with FP, American Eagle and Dove both have campaigns that challenge old norms and encourage the idea that beauty is a state of mind, not a predetermined decision.
We’re far from a reality where modeling as we know it is obsolete, but based on the recent trend in progressive movements to create a more inclusive definition of beauty in mainstream culture, it doesn’t seem too far fetched of a notion for an imagined future. Our guess is that modeling will never really be a dead profession, but we may start to see the role of models start to change. Models are working professionals. If user-generated content continues to rise in popularity, we could one day find ourselves in a world where models are respected as artists as well as muses, rather than the living mannequins we too often take them for. FP is only testing their extended section, but so far, it seems to have gotten nothing but positive responses. If this trend of reality in the fashion industry continues, it could mean the dawn of a revitalized new approach to the business of beauty and the end of beauty as an unattainable, glossy mirage.