Love Me explores the insidious power of the global beauty industry.
Reflecting on the cultural and commercial forces that drive a pathological obsession with youth and beauty, the project explores how a new form of globalization is taking place, where an increasingly narrow Western beauty ideal is being exported around the world like a crude universal brand.
Over a period of five years Zed Nelson visited seventeen countries across five continents, producing a powerful body of work that forces every one of us to question our own place in a culture that compels us to constantly judge, and be judged, by our appearance.
Whilst Nelson's subjects appear willing participants in an omnipresent culture of bodily improvement, they are also hapless victims, locked into an insatiable craving for approval.
Zed Nelson says:
“The promise of bodily improvement is fuelled by a $160 billion-a-year global industry, creating an insatiable appetite for aesthetic self-improvement.
The modern Caucasian beauty ideal has been sold to us, and is now being packaged and exported globally. Just as surgical operations to ‘Westernise’ oriental eyes have become increasingly popular, so the beauty standard has become increasingly prescriptive. In Africa the use of skin-lightening and hair-straightening products is widespread. In South America women have operations that bring them eerily close to the Barbie doll ideal, and blonde-haired models appear on the covers of most magazines. Anorexia is on the increase in Japan, and in China beauty pageants, once banned as ‘spiritual pollution’, are now held across the country.”