Vestoj : On Authenticity
These are times of post-truth, alternative facts and truthiness: at times it seems we are becoming fluent in Newspeak. But even as we have come to adapt to a more flexible view of reality, integrity, sincerity, truthfulness and authenticity remain consecrated ideals of selfhood. ‘Keep it real.’ ‘Stay true to yourself.’ ‘Be yourself.’ These truisms and tautologies have grazed many a coffee cup, self-help book and T-shirt, and they are a standard trope in TED Talks. Though we may cringe when we hear them, many of us have come to accept those corny phrases as conventional wisdom.
But is there such a thing as a ‘real me’ or a ‘genuine self’? How does one live an authentic life? And is it possible to do so in fashion, an environment so wedded to the mood of the moment, so seemingly dependent on masks and masquerade, adopted when convenient and shed when no longer useful. Some might say that fashion and authenticity are antithetical: one the definition of the present ethos, the other the value of those who strive to prevail over it. Or so an existentialist, smoking in Les Deux Magots in 1946, would have posited. Only by overcoming the accepted norms imposed on us by our social institutions – family, education, religion, government – can an individual begin to live a truly authentic life.
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Anja Aronowsky Cronberg
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