Kit Steinkellner
July 15, 2014 10:02 am

In recent “Sometimes The Internet Is Actually Cool” news, author and activist Robin Rice just launched the coolest of virtual campaigns. “Stop The Beauty Madness” is a series of fake advertisements that, according to the campaign’s mission statement, “tackle some of the grittiest, profoundly unsettling realities of 21st century beauty ideals.” The images, which are mostly stock photos slapped with shockingly in-yo-face statements, are meant to start much needed conversations about “ageism, racism, fat shaming, body image, eating disorders, [and] sexuality.”

That’s a lot to cover in one photo series, but don’t underestimate this campaign. These images explore the psychology of our beauty image baggage and the ways in which advertising has infiltrated our way of thinking. In one clearly Photoshopped image, the words “my worth” are planted firmly between a woman’s “thigh gap.” In another image, an older woman’s face eerily smiles next to the words: “Old isn’t ugly, it’s invisible.” The goal of these shocking images is to pull back the curtain on “the ugly truths hidden in our culture and our own minds,” and ultimately, to “create a new culture around beauty.”

So far the social change project has gone viral on a shoestring budget (the website says they’ve only spent $3,500 on the project), and in addition to these images swirling around the inter webs, the hashtag has taken off on Twitter (people are picking the “advertisement” that most relates to their own hangups, as well as praising the project as a whole for forcing us all to take a good hard look at our own messed-up views). “Stop The Beauty Madness” is also sponsoring a ten-week audio series featuring body-positive superheroes, a Facebook page and an ongoing blog, and a slam poetry contest. (Once you say “slam poetry” I’m in it to win it.) I’m so impressed with the thoughtfulness and internet-smart spirit of this campaign.

Here’s a look at some of the campaign’s most thought-provoking images. (Check out all the pictures on their website.) Note: Some of these images have an empowering message, while others feel like a punch in the gut. Some spell out what’s wrong with our society, while others raise questions about our cultural expectations. But all of the images hit a nerve—they remind us how much brainwashing and subliminal messaging exists in our representations of beauty and force us to deal with how completely ridiculous it all is.

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