I know it isn’t technically your fault. You didn’t ask to be there.
One day you’re just a working model standing on a beach, a clifftop, a bridge, or under a lamppost; the next, you’re blazing across bookshelves and bookshop windows, the cover girl of a bestseller.
I know you were just thinking to earn a few quid, getting your photograph taken whilst preserving your anonymity (because your job is to never face the camera, and girl, are you GOOD at that). You didn’t ask to be the Faceless Representative Of All Femininity. And yet, here you are.
Or rather there you are, your twenty-year-old legs firmly planted on the soil of whichever dreamy landscape was photoshopped around you. There you are, your twenty-year-old arms lithe and long, clutching that old-fashioned handbag, quaintly addressed letter, or hand of a small child. There you are, facing away from me, your slim and trim twenty-year-old body angled fetchingly toward the background of sky, sea or plain.
There you are. But who the hell are you?
You are not the 52-year-old protagonist of the book I’m reading which deals with dementia; you are not the 38-year-old protagonist of the book which explores fertility and gender expectations.
You are not the 46-year-old narrator of a book about destructive obsession.
You are most certainly not the 67-year-old woman at the core of the story about two families at war over a whiskey empire.
Funnily enough, you are not even the 25-year-old woman entertaining me with wry tales of crushing disappointment.
So Who The Hell Are You Supposed To Be?
And yet, there you are, in all your youthful 20-year-old glory: you, The Faceless Representative Of All Femininity, who must carry the marketing message to us, the readers, a.k.a. Faceless Real Women Who Buy Books With The Express Purpose Of Reading Them.
I do not like you, 20-Year-Old Faceless Girl. For starters, you are nothing to do with the mahoosive array of protagonists in the books I read, none of whom are twenty years old and prone to clutching straw hats or granny bags.
I mean, just look at you. LOOK AT YOU.
You are the same woman with different hair. You are forever fixed in your youthful, faceless, and frequently headless beauty: forever white, slim, characterless, colourless, cultureless, charmless, and pointless.
Who chose you? Surely not your authors, because too many have spoken out by now about their disappointment when first confronted with your irrelevant girlish loveliness. And to whom exactly are you supposed to be speaking? Is it to me, the reader? Or indeed any other reader who is neither twenty, colourless, characterless, cultureless, charmless or pointless?
Time To Wake Up And Discover What Century It Is: Also, Fashion
You, 20-Year-Old Faceless Girl, are not speaking to me. You do not speak to me in the same way that models in magazines and catalogues do not speak to me. I do not want to see your twenty-year-old self on the front of the book I’m reading any more than I want to see clothes being sold to me by draping them upon emaciated children.
I want to see book covers with different women – not girls – on them, and I want to see clothes modelled by women my age or even older (only twenty times more beautiful and modelesque than I am, obviously – that, I will allow). I don’t even care what fecking size they are as long as I can relate to them better.
Think about it: why are fashion blogs so popular? Because they offered the first widely accessible images published by relatively normal people (at first) who showed real people how to wear real clothes, THAT’S WHY. The fashion world copped on to this a long time ago, bringing those bloggers into the fold in order to appeal to more consumers. But your publisher? Not so much.
What the hell is wrong with marketing people, that they can’t just use the best version of ourselves to sell stuff to us?
Why do they constantly think we will only respond favourably to nauseatingly saccharine, aspirational images which are also impossible? Do they honestly believe a 28-year-old woman won’t buy a book with a gorgeous 42-year-old model on the cover, whether we can see her face or not? FFS. Show me the focus group data. Show me the sales data. SHOW ME THE DATA WHICH PROVES THAT A WOMAN WILL NOT BUY A BOOK WITH AN OLDER WOMAN ON THE COVER.
Do they honestly think that women won’t buy books or clothes unless they are bombarded with images of women much younger and thinner than them? Of course they do. Because just like you, they are characterless, colourless, cultureless, charmless, and pointless.
I haven’t even broached the subject of what you’re doing to books which, if written by men, would be considered literary fiction, but because they’ve been written by women, are deemed to be women’s fiction, destined for ladies’ eyes only, and with about as much artistic and cultural merit as a rudely-shaped carrot, caught in a compromising position with two kiwi fruit.
I cannot relate to you, 20-Year-Old Faceless Girl. And because you are also irrelevant to the content you are promoting, you are annoying me, and need to be gone. (Not in the Gillian Flynn sense, I must add. In the good old-fashioned sense.)
And when you get gone, 20-Year-Old Faceless Girl, there is a place for you. That place is posing in photographs wearing clothes from Forever 21 or Zara or H&M or Topshop. It is NOT on the cover of this book I’m reading.
So you can feck right off.