My Sexy American Sikh Valentine by Jesse Bawa via The Daily Beast
Image via the article, but is taken from Gap advertising campaign
While I was reading this article I was constantly conflicted about how to feel. On the one hand, I wholeheartedly support the notion of normalising the coloured face, and agree that there is a great need to increase our exposure to cultures within cultures, especially in Western society. I did however feel as though there was a seriously blurred line between the normalisation of these faces and the fetishisation of them. I say this because I suppose there is a constant protocol in advertising that makes everything sexy, trendy and desirable, and these methods serve really just to commodify everything from people to objects to emotions. I always feel as though these are misrepresentations, or somehow inauthentic, or just unnecessary altogether. It’s a sort of arbitrary, one dimensional representation… And with the examples given in this article, that really is all I could feel. It’s a shame that advertising is the avenue at which we attempt to normalise the other, because the intentions of advertising are influenced by other, terrible motivations to push product. Cultural diversity in advertising can’t just be a check box – could checking the box mean placing unrealistic expectations (of beauty, lifestyle, happiness etc) on otherised communities? Will otherised culture be trendy now, and forgotten later? Will it maybe even be made uncool or somehow outdated? I can never really be sure of the motivations, and my skepticism often makes me feel cynical, but I really do have to wonder.
On a slightly less critical note: I feel a visceral concern and passion for these topics as someone who is Australian but often perceived as foreign. I often also feel fetishised, and as though I am supposed to meet some sexual and aesthetic standards that, in my youth, and in my naivety, and in it’s distance from reality, I can’t actually meet!