A quote at the end of an article I read about the success of a lifestyle brand got me thinking. The article itself was super interesting and positive, and for some reason, the quote at the end left me feeling weird. And I didn’t know why. So to figure it out, I did what I often do when I feel that way. I walked the dog.
This isn’t a critique of the brand I read about specifically, so that’s why I’m not naming them or linking to the exact quote because that’s not the point. I’m taking a closer look at the concept of fantasy worlds in general.
The quote at the end of the article that left me feeling a little let down went like this. The first part of the quote was great and the editor says they offer authentic content that doesn’t focus on a rose-colored glasses fantasy. Great. Love it.
But she goes on and it was the last part that made me a little sad. She said that their brand doesn’t completely erase clichés and stereotypes because it’s part of the charm to play into that fantasy world because those things sell.
On the surface, it makes sense. I get it. I really do. If we were to look at France specifically, the whole romanticized image of France and its people sells. Gosh, do I know that.
If you Google French girl this and that, you’ll find a whole bunch of articles on how to live life better, dress better, eat better… like the French. As if all people are a certain way, an ultimately better way. It’s selling a dream. And damn, is it a good one.
So what’s my issue with the quote? The fact that it’s perpetuating a non-reality.
How can you say in one breath that you’re authentic and real, and then in the next, admit that you play into a fantasy world? There’s a disconnect there and it comes across as anything but authentic. And it’s everywhere!
Everyone knows French clichés aren’t real life, don’t they? NO! The longer I’m in this space, the more I realize people do believe the clichés. All French people do this or act like that. People shockingly believe that life in France is a dream come true. They believe that living here is a 24/7 vacation and if they move here, they too will be living the dream. I wholeheartedly enjoy my life in France and it’s where I want to be, but it’s a real place with pros and cons like anywhere else.
But back to the clichés. Yes, there’s some truth in every cliché, but what happens when we admit that we’re selling the dream? It makes the place or thing seem less special, attainable, and real.
I don’t like when people refuse to see what’s behind the curtain. The negatives. The imperfect facade that’s right in front of us if we only opened our eyes to the lessons right under our nose. There’s beauty in the imperfections and we shouldn’t run from them. By allowing ourselves to see the entire spectrum of good, bad, and everything in between, we’re being shown a more authentic reality and that’s important.By allowing ourselves to see the entire spectrum of good, bad, and everything in between, we're being shown a more authentic reality and that's important.Click To Tweet
Real talk time.
There’s no value in crafting a narrative of a fantasy world that’s about as far from the truth as possible.
I don’t like any company or brand that idealizes any lifestyle — especially the French one — to the point of being contrived, overly stereotypical, and 100% positive all the time with no room for reality or deviation from what’s expected. You know the dreams we’re shown… the perfectly staged lives with people who effortlessly love, live, and laugh without a care in the world.
Maybe my issue is that when we play into a fantasy, we’re setting expectations that are unattainably high. We build something up in our minds so that no reality will ever live up to what we’ve concocted in our heads. It’s so much harder to go back and live “real life” when we think fantasy worlds are real and happening somewhere else and we can’t possibly measure up.
It makes us less appreciative of the present moment and where we are now.It's so much harder to go back and live 'real life' when we think fantasy worlds are real and happening somewhere else. Click To Tweet
The fantasy takes the best aspects of something and mushes them together into a utopia of epic proportions, so that when you see the reality — so in this case, let’s say going to Paris on vacation — you can’t help but feel let down. You know about the Paris Syndrome, right?
Or who knows, maybe your trip will live up to the fantasy. In that case, great. But are you looking for Disney World or a real place?
Is it better to go into something with low expectations so the only way is up and you’ll be pleasantly surprised? Or maybe go in with no expectations at all?
Listen, I get it. In the case of a vacation, after traveling across an ocean and spending your hard-earned cash, who wants to be let down? Not me. When you only have a week to see a place, you want to spend your time wisely taking in the best a locale has to offer. You can do that, though, without living in a fantasy world.
My real issue is this. Fantasy worlds are lies. It’s not about Paris, or France or any one thing in particular. It’s playing into a fantasy in the first place that’s the issue — while claiming you’re real.