Faceless profiles

One day the sunlight glanced at me shy through the curtained window. I was about to go out for a short jogging around the canal. So I was with my short, and sporty t-shirt. The sunlight whispered me that there wouldn’t be much of wind outside, and he would be everywhere heating up the asphalt. But I was ready. I glanced back through the curtained window; trees were still, and pedestrians’ steps were fast to avoid the straight sunlight. The spring was coming to Paris, so to celebrate this shy encounter I flashed toward the mirror, which later reflected to deliver a fair profile picture as above (the left). I had it for a while as my profile picture on WhatsApp.

Some friends passed by, saluting of my new photo. Some clapped their hands, and others questioned the detail. The letter ‘Brazil’ delighted Brazilian citizens and their culture admirers, yet offended their rival citizens such as Argentinians. Some sportwear lovers praised the value of NIKE. It would be an extreme symbolism if someone thought of me a peaceful person as I was in blue. So I decided to eliminate all labels (literally, all brand names of corporations or nations) from my belongings. I covered up the Motorola M mark of my black phone with a cute round sticker. I cut the UNIQLO logo tags from my clothes. Yet, people reacted unconsciously to patterns and colours. Animal patterns entitled me that I have affection to owl or crocodile. Green or yellow t-shirts made them think that I’m bold enough in fashion. My old hippy trouser made them think that afforded travelling to South Asia or to Amazonian jungle. Eliminating all the labels, I happen to become naked before the mirror the next time when the sunlight glimpsed again, which again reflected to deliver another profile picture as above (the right).

Yet we live in a society where nudity is prohibited or condemned. We are obligated to wear a labelled product for the benefit of corporations or nations. We became ideology consumers who benefit to those who produce such ideology. Identity transferred, just as people wear NIKE for being sport lovers and people use IPhone for being early adapters of technology. Would those who go to nude beach instead of being able to express their gayness with colourful, tight and expensive-looking swimming shorts? When I presented my new profile picture, I was worried if people would think that I’m in seeking of sex because of the partial nudity. In the original literature ‘Utopia’, it was suggested to be totally naked before the spouse candidate for them to examine each other their desires and identities. The reason that it was described in ‘Utopia’ is because it wouldn’t be expected in a real society. Furthermore, being naked doesn’t ensure us label-free anymore. How much time we have invested in gym, what kind of tattoo we have designed to carve, or what degree of whiteness or tanning for the skin have implications of our economic and social status. Ideology has embedded taking psychological control under our sheet and cloth.

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So for many of us, a decent reconciliation point is to embrace those labels and corporative labels with a sense of social responsibility. Admitting that we are not free-thinkers from a value-enslaving-structure, we should be aware of what brand we are embracing to be part of our identities. Yet, identity is intangible and ever-changing idea so individual measurement would be necessary not to suffer from Stockholm syndrome which embraces fully the oppressor structure as if it was one’s own intention. Here we need to think of two examples: (1) When high-school uniform system is vanished, student exchanged their uniform to the North Face’s jumper in South Korea. It gradually became a social problem for some student couldn’t afford the North Face which visualised the economic gap between students. (2) In Iran, an anti-hijab movement is growing between women which confronts street violence by religious fundamentalists. At the same time, there is a Muslim model who got dropped for wearing hijab. In those two cases, the North Face and the hijab are the oppressor structure from which some individuals tried to be label-free only to find themselves in social and economic disadvantage.

Interestingly, those two profile photos are faceless yet they reveal or impose a lot more than just a face can imply. Side by side, they gave me a message of our understanding toward the branded society and its implication on our daily lives. I’ll leave the profile picture (as on the right above) but I know I can just simply switch it to the left when I need to be labelled as I wish. By the way, what would be your choice among those two?

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“It was better before”; “We were less nostalgic”

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