A recent video has gone viral on youtube in the last week. The video features a 19 year old model, who suffers from a severe case of acne, which not only covers her face, but her neck and some of her back, as well. In the video segment, the model, Cassandra Bankson, describes her daily make-up routine of covering up her acne to give her picture perfect skin. The video can be found here.
At first, watching this video, I was amazed. As a teenage girl, who is prone to breakouts, I was genuinely interested in what advice the girl had to give, and I may or may not have even taken notes. The video is informative, and her technique really does work. Cassandra’s attitude is encouraging, as if anyone can achieve what she has. It is as if the video implies that anyone can be a superstar model. And realistically, what girl doesn’t want to be one? Think about what a model stands for. She is the epitome of human beauty. If we could all achieve this, this level of human perfection, who would turn it down? Cassandra says that her youtube page is covered with kind comments, calling her an inspiration. This comment was what really got me thinking about this video in terms of Political Theory. Is a girl who teaches us all to wear a mask really an inspiration?
I began thinking about the TED video we watched in lecture with Aimee Mullins. Aimee is a athlete, actress, and most relative to this situation, a model, however, due to a serious illness, both of her legs have been amputated. Aimee, too, has been called an inspiration. Having two prostetic legs, she has accomplished more than most people have in their entire lifetime. And, although physically she may appear different, she has still managed to also be known as the epitome of human beauty.
Aimee teaches her audience to embrace their differences, to realize that whatever sets them apart makes up their identity, and that their identity is what makes up who they are. Aimee does not try to fit the social norm, and thus her differences, what some would call flaws, are considered beautiful. Cassandra, on the other hand, teaches us to cover up our differences. In her videos, she is teaching the youth of America how to look and feel like everyone else. She is teaching them how to wear a mask, both physically and metaphorically. And, in looking like everyone else, she too is considered beautiful. So, which is the right approach? Who is truly an inspiration? Is Cassandra just being realistic in recognizing that with her skin America would most likely not accept her as a model? What does this say about our country, that after everything, we don’t accept individuals for who they really are? What does it say that, instead, we expect them to cover up their flaws in order to represent “human beauty”? Who is really the true inspiration in these stories, could it be both?