In Lebanon, plastic surgery has become an intrinsic part of daily life. Some banks are introducing loans for plastic surgery, a clever move that has attracted many customers. Ads are now playing on the obsession with plastic surgery to boost the sales of whisky! Although there is no direct relation between physical appearance and consumption of spirits, marketers can simply use magic words that people connect with, or more likely words that characterize Lebanese customers: beauty, fabulousness and plastic surgery.
"Plastic Surgery made me fabulous...Live your way"...An ad on Achrafieh highway in Beirut (Photo by Carla Haibi)
In the above ad, plastic surgery as the only way to fabulousness is linked to living your life as you want it and whisky. Whatever the connection may be, it seems to be working…
All was calm and normal in the land where plastic surgery is used as a service in some travel packages…Until www.ANADiva.com, was launched. ANADiva, litterally means, I am a diva. A diva in this context is a woman with character, wit and a well defined identity. Through this online forum, Gwen Abou Jaoude, the founding diva and a friend wanted to tackle the issue of standardization of beauty in Lebanon. The website also aims at celebrating the beauty of the Lebanese woman and her identity.
As part of her awareness campaign she organized an event called “Be yourself or everyone else” this Sunday 20th of September 2009 at Gemmayze, the bar area in Beirut. Through this event, Abou Jaoude aimed at raising a red flag and at getting the debate started about an issue that has become a major social problem.
Using quirky installations, she booked one of the prominent bars in Gemmayze called Gem and a section of Saint Nicholas stairs that lead to it. The unusual set attracted a crowd of passers-by and media people despite the heavy rains that night.
I had the opportunity to write the concept of this campaign on flyers and the messages on the installations just because I really believe in pushing the envelope and providing an opportunity for a dialogue about the rapidly changing appearances of our society.
Finally, someone has dared to step in and make a statement not aimed at fighting plastic surgery per se, but rather aimed at questioning the obsession with it and its consequences on the identity of its heavy users. With most Lebanese women now looking alike thanks to the wonders of the knife and scalpel, the individuality of these women as well as their traits are lost and confused by increasingly high and unrealistic standards. Those standards are inspired by images promoted by media, images of plastic silhouettes and the glamour culture void of any emphasis on inner well-being or self-esteem.
Poster of the event (Photo by Carla Haibi)
As part of this special set, Abou jaoude installed a booth, she called the confidence booth where she invited people to go inside and have their pictures taken and enjoy a moment of fame where their self-confidence rather their concern with their appearance took over.
Black faceless models scattered on the stairs displaying messages of the negative consequences of an increasingly plastic culture (Photo by Carla Haibi)
Sewing machines set inside Gem Bar symbolized the mass-production of beauty in Lebanon where plastic surgery is increasingly sowing similar faces and bodies and crippling the society.
the confidence booth with the slogan “You are your own star… shine!” (Photo by Louma el Khoury)
Antique sewing machines on display at Gem (Photo by Carla Haibi)
Although this event was the first step towards a debate, Abou Jaoude has vowed that this will only be the start of a series of initiatives, the online forum ANADiva.com included, in order to promote critical thinking and preserve the true markers of the Lebanese beauty. Log on to the website to learn more and be part of the conversation.
A model trapped in a web in the ceiling symbolizing a crippled society by the loss of identity due to uniformity of beauty standards (Photo by Carla Haibi)
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