We need a better word for "authenticity"
I hear the word "authenticity" lot because I work in social media marketing and when I hear it it's generally used in a way to describe the way a brand presents. So I tend to associate "contrived" with "authenticity." I want to address this because I LOVE the sentiment of the word, and I want us to reclaim it.
Ultimately all I really want is to be authentic, in my work, my relationships - everything I do. I strive for an authentic life. And I don't want huge brands to use it to pander to me/try to sell me something that isn't what it says it is. This is confusing and unhelpful.
This article via Fashion put some of my feeling into perspective. Courtney Shea talks about Katy Perry's live-streamed therapy session with a psychoanalyst, which was part of her 96-hour live stream event promoting her #WorldWideWitness tour. Perry illustrated her experiences with depression and suicidal thoughts to the psychoanalyst. Shea describes Perry's attempt at authenticity "smacks of desperation and artifice." I agree.
We love reading about how celebrities are just like us. (ie - Chrissy Teigen, who: "is a hilarious, unfiltered, perfectly imperfect woman" who just happens to look a lot like the Sports Illustrated glamazon.") We're validated by it, amused by it, but this is purely entertainment. It's entertainment - by nature, contrived.
Katy Perry is allowed to have been depressed, and have had suicidal thoughts, and she's allowed to talk about it. She's allowed to inspire fans to share their own struggles. I hope she does. But just like how when Kim Kardashian posted that nude selfie as a demonstration of #feminism and everyone was like, no, #marketing, Perry's efforts to live-stream her demonstration of mental health advocacy is just...beside the point. I'm not buying it. There is real work required, in feminism and in ending mental health stigma, that entertainment can't do. Kim's selfies aren't part of this work, and Katy's open therapy session wasn't either.
We're at such a weird time where what's 'real' is coveted and also the furthest thing from what we're actually doing. We become sort of caricatures of ourselves on social media, in a way. At the end of the day, real authenticity dies when we start considering how something will be perceived by the outside world, right? Can Katy Perry be authentic? (What would that look like?) And, back to the title of the article, is that the realest thing she could do? Like, the most helpful thing she could do to help break the stigma?
I think a better word is honest. That's being authentic, I think. It's simple. It's not about money. It's not about fame. It's not a currency. Authenticity is a value that runs deep, not an act l. ISSA VIBE, and it lives in our hearts and minds and souls, not in an ad.