language / neglect / fear of invisibility / time / ritual / gesture / pursue of beauty / advertising
Treat Yourself is about ritual, pursue of beauty, decay, time, fear of invisibility, and preservation of memory. I personally feel I need to look a certain way in order to be seen; a glowing, healthy skin equals self-love, acceptance, visibility, health.
The project stems from my interest in the language used in advertising aimed at women. A while ago I noticed a sign outside a beauty salon. The list of different treatments – waxes, haircuts, facials – ended in a statement that felt like an order. It simply read ‘Treat Yourself.’
Advertisements convince us to believe that beauty treatments and products are fun. Like treats. That whenever we invest in these products and treatments, we invest in our personal wellbeing and future. My own home is filled with different smiley, sunny, pastel-colored pots, creams, and scrubs. Whenever I buy something, I’m not buying the actual product, but the promise of happiness and lightness. In a tub.
Adverts prey on people’s insecurities, carve out this sense of need, and then make money by trying to fill that gap, that sense of emptiness. We are made to believe that we need them. That they are good for us. That with that healthy glow, happiness will follow.
These lies are discreetly whispered to us by wittily worded labels on eye cream jars, by those luscious lips from inside glowing lightboxes at bus stops. Loud advertisements, false promises, bright lights, feelings of detachment and attachment, belonging and alienation.
I’m interested in exploring this ritual, this pursue of beauty, through photography. The images from this series are photograms created by using objects used in beauty treatments.
The project is an ongoing investigation of what my personal relationship to my body and the beauty industry is and what drives me to behave the way I do. My intention is not to speak for everyone.
Treat Yourself is, however, a reflection on today’s advertising culture and its creed. My goal is not to criticize people who go through and enjoy beauty treatments, but the system that has built this fence of expectations and beauty ideals around us and tries to capitalise on people’s internalised insecurities.
What’s interesting is that to ‘treat’ something can also refer to a wound, a cut. I’m equally interested in the empty spaces as well as what is visible to the eye, in how that gap caused by a sense of disconnect and detachment is filled with foundations, creams and lotions. This project is an investigation of how and why those isolated, floating, fleeting pieces of self are sewn together, of the different ways the feeling of not belonging is hidden and suppressed, blended and faded out.
© 2019 Anna Karoliina Partanen