What Even Is ‘Authenticity’?

It’s been on my mind for a while now.  To write about the Kardashians.

I can feel your judgement, but I choose to ignore it.

I love them, you see – I truly do.  Their show at any rate.  Tuning in to their zany world makes me all kinds of happy.  As my sister Linda – a confirmed fan also – once quipped, it’s a bit of LA glamour and sparkle on any given night.  And that is very welcome in my current land of naptimes and nappies…

I stumbled across them quite accidentally some dozen or so series back and was quickly hooked, lured in by the lifestyle (mad!), staying for the love (sisterly, motherly, romantic – it has it all).  However, it appears that when it comes to the Kardashians and keeping up with them, you either get it or you don’t.  You love ’em or loath ’em.  And those that don’t share my enthusiasm often dismiss them on the grounds of being fake.  Not real.  Not authentic.

But since when have celebrities ever been real?  And when did we all start looking to the crazy world of fame for authenticity?  Please!  I get that they are shrewd business people who are primarily intent on flogging stuff.  I can well see they’re all masked under layers of professional make-up, have childcare support that would make the Duchess of Cambridge weep – and don’t even get me started with the plastic surgery.  But believe me, that doesn’t make me feel in any way cheated.  I admire them for it – fair play Kimye, you had me at Paris wedding.  Watching them doesn’t make me feel bad – on the contrary, it makes me happy and their world isn’t enviable, it’s an escape – a constructed fairytale or car crash, depending on your perspective.  Because it’s not real.  Its not authentic.  Magazines aren’t real either or television chat shows or Instagram or Facebook…  Yes folks, tis all a cod.

And I do understand there are vulnerable people – and particularly younger people – who find social media and reality television deflating and dis-spiriting, to say the very least (and actually depressing at worst).  But surely this makes it even more imperative that we stop demanding authenticity of other people, particularly famous people living a life we can never understand.  Because what even is ‘authenticity’?  Why are we obsessed with it?  And who are we to judge someone else’s authenticity or otherwise?

 

Everyone’s talking about authenticity…  ‘The Authentic Lie’ by Pandora Sykes.  As sent to me by my sister Evelyn.

A line from Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock – ‘prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet’, sums me up in many ways.  The person my brother knows me as and the person my friend Sharon knows me as are completely different.  Neither is insincere.  I do my best to be true to myself, to not be a hypocrite and to be an open person as I go about my daily life.  I value honesty – I believe that sharing and being open about experience helps form deep and meaningful connections with people.  I also, however, value my privacy.  In many ways, my daily authenticity levels depend on what side of the bed I get out of.  Some days I’m happy to open up the ‘Book of Laurie’ for others to read.  Other times, I prefer to keep my thoughts under wraps, selecting more carefully what I disclose.

Having come of age with ‘Sex & The City’ on the box, our generation is one of over-sharers, with sharing less or sharing selectively seen as highly suspicious, bordering on deceitful.  I’ll agree there is a certain camaraderie in sharing the lows of life, but nobody is duty-bound to do so.  In this sense, we owe each other nothing and ourselves everything – as William Shakespeare wrote, ‘to thine own self be true’.

The only one real thing we can know to be true of every single other human being is that nobody is perfect.  Nobody.  Not even Gwyneth.  We are not bound by an unwritten law to make known our imperfections and nor is it narcissistic to highlight the best aspects of ourselves.  We can choose to learn from others, be inspired by others or take delight in others (it’s also OK to, very privately, enjoy loathing others) – we can also choose to log off or tune out.

With Easter just passed, my Insta feed was a-buzz with references to the fine weather and the ‘great drying’ to be had.  This exposes my penchant for following plenty of ‘Mummy’ bloggers whom, more often than not, do their best to ‘keep it real’ and ‘get down’ with the ordinary Mammies.  And I’ll be honest, I too thought the drying was great.  I had a full line out most days and let’s just say the joy of drying clothes, outside, in the fresh air, takes domestic satisfaction levels to another level.  However – do I need to hear about this over and over, all day long when I take time out to indulge in a little insta-scrolling?  Ironically, to me, this bid by some to reference a very real part of being a mother felt constructed and inauthentic.

On the other hand, Kim on baby number 4 via a surrogate, Kylie picking up a Ferrari as a small gift for Kris, Kourtney having a personalised Chinese tea ceremony at her house to balance her chakras? Give me ‘reality’ Kardashian-style any day.  They may be whacky, but at least they’re doing it their way and saying a big ‘feck’ to the begrudgers – perhaps the most authentic thing any one of us can ever hope to do.

 

Yes the drying was great!  But are you talking about it because you are real, or in order to appear more real?…

 

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