One of the very first things I think of when I hear the word “London” is the phrase “get the London look.” This slogan was used by the cosmetic company Rimmel in order to sell various products including mascara and lipstick. From a marketing and branding perspective, Rimmel’s vision was to create a representation of what London agrees to be beautiful. Along with a unique British model (often sporting a gap-tooth grin) the statement “get the London look” is intended to influence buyers’ desire for the unique beauty of English women. Rimmel’s specific intention was to attract international consumers who developed a sense of desire for “the London look.”
I expected the women of London to be darling, flawless, and modelesque. Although the women were well-dressed and good looking, they were just like any other population of women in the world. The fashion magazines and beauty commercials containing artificial photoshop and airbrushed models give readers a false perception of beauty. When I visited London I experienced plain reality. My expectations of London’s women were much too high, and I have only the American media to blame for that.
In America, “beautiful” means tall and thin with a perfect white smile, high cheek bones, a clear complexion, and long thick hair. American women spend hundreds of dollars every year on beauty products and use methods like “contouring” to paint up their faces and create the shadow of cheek bones and a clear complexion. Teeth whitening strips can be found at any drug store and there are endless hair products for volume and shine. Women pick themselves apart in front of the mirror after seeing photographs on social media of the “perfect” bodies of women living in paradise (when really they are just living through their Adobe photoshop studio). A statistic says 3% of the American population struggles with some type of eating disorder (ANRED.com). I am not implying that England does not face the same type of issues, but at our visit to iTV, I was assured that American media is just a little more corrupt in that way than in England.
At iTV studios in London we had the opportunity to meet some of the presenters on the British talk show, Loose Women. The talk show consists of a panel of four women who humorously debate and discuss celebrity gossip and news, comparable to America’s The View. As we sat in the audience, the presenters, camera crew, producer, director and host stood before us and answered our questions about media in the British world. I was very surprised to see how laid-back and casual the conversation was. It felt we could truly express our opinions, fears, and goals about the industry without feeling judged. They were all extremely personable and kind. I feel as though if we had been in America at an industry tour, the American celebrities would have offered a photograph then left the scene, but these women seemed just as eager to hear our questions as we were to hear their answers.
I was very interested to hear the answer to one of my fellow student’s questions. She asked, “When looking at the competitiveness of the broadcasting industry in England, how does it compare with the United States?” Although the industry may be competitive in England as well, the competition has an entirely different dynamic. The women were shocked to hear the high standards of broadcasting women and men by the media. The media in the USA wants the most attractive candidate for the job, which leaves many aspiring journalists feeling discouraged about their career path. In England, however, the competition is more about networking and crafting your talent. The women said the industry looks for people who are genuine and that looks play little role in the hiring process. “Especially for our show, Loose Women, the viewers want to be represented. In order to do so, we need women of a variety of backgrounds, ages, and looks.” The show is aiming to resonate with their audience in the best way possible. In America, we often do not see the average woman represented (especially of different minority groups) and so we compare ourselves to the model chosen for the job, and that just is not realistic for the majority of the audience.
I was very inspired by the organic way the women responded to our questions and gave us a self-assurance that at least in England, we can feel confident about who we naturally are. I would definitely consider moving to London for an internship in the media industry so I could get the experience from a unbiased standpoint.
My experience in London was spectacular. Though the transportation from one place in the city to another seemed like a process at the beginning, we all quickly caught on and managed the tube station maps on our own. Walking from platform to platform, up and down the escalator and through the warm air of people bustling about, I found a peace in people-watching. Along with observing the world around me, the advertisements (often repetitive along the walls) stuck with me because they were the only thing to look at on the walls. They often contained a catchy phrase or bright colors in order to attract the attention of those in their tunnel vision through the station. The advertisements were for clothing shops, musical performers, apps, and many more.
Perhaps one of the greatest things I have learned in London is that although a nation may have their differences, it is vital to stick together as one and recognize that “love” is what we have in common, and we do not need much more than that. After the terrorist attacks, London came together and supported each other as a community should. Coming from America where there is a lot of prejudice and controversy, seeing a nation show so much love for one another after these terrible events really opened my eyes to what America could be facing at the rate she is going with the negativity and hate toward the underrepresented population.