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Hi my name is Amaya Santiago. I am 17-years-old and I was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. I am African American and my family is from the British Virgin Islands as well as other Caribbean islands.
The piece I submitted started off as a fun edit that was simply done out of boredom. However, it soon turned into a commentary on how magazine publishers, as well as most companies in the beauty industry, rely on degrading female consumers in order to sell their own products. At first, I was making an innocent, light-hearted and fun edit of me on the cover of Haper’s Bazarr and it was going to be an homage to Jem and the Holograms (a show that my mother absolutely loved and passed on to me). But, as I was observing the covers of Harper’s Bazaar I was noticing that all of them were advertising products that would “get rid of wrinkles”, “bring back youthfulness”, and “restore beauty” to women who maybe feel like they need all of those things. Some of the titles were absolutely ridiculous and I couldn’t believe how insane it was that people were buying magazines that so obviously wanted to take advantage of them. That is when I realized that the strategy of these companies is to put an unrealistically attractive woman on the cover of magazines who they photoshop the hell out of to begin with, then pronounce them the standard of how all women should look. If a 36-year-old woman (which is not even that old) were reading a magazine with Jennifer Lopez on the cover looking like she’s 18 when she is actually 50 years old, OF COURSE, she would want to go buy some magical cream that will restore her youth. Although this is something I knew was happening, I understood it a little more once I saw it for myself and realized that this tactic of breaking down the self-esteem of women in order to profit from them isn’t even hidden. It is VERY blatant. Yet it is still a very successful tactic: for some reason, I want a cream that will rejuvenate my skin and I’m only 17! This is why in my piece I have writing around me that says, “You’re ugly. Be prettier”. That is basically what these companies are saying and they couldn’t do it more blatantly unless they actually wrote what I wrote. The piece took me about two hours and even the makeup on my face is edited using apps on my phone. This piece definitely means a lot to me and does something that most of my other work doesn’t do. Make a statement.