The Handbag of Happiness: fakery hits new levels with phones

Alannah Hill opens a door into her world of fashion in her new memoir.

Alannah Hill opens a door into her world of fashion in her new memoir.

Fashion icon Alannah Hills shares an extract from her new memoir, The Handbag of Happiness (And other misunderstandings, misdemeanours and misadventures).


It rhymes so well with bakery ... and yet fakery has nothing to do with bakeries.

Fakery can be many things to many people, but the bakery of fakery alludes to a grim little charade, a plastic veneer, a fraud, a hypocrisy, a deliberate deception, a farce, a mockery, a travesty, or, my personal favourite, a cover-up!

When I was younger, I flipped fakery on its head and turned it into a cover-up. The Hobart art world talked about it for weeks, my name associated with exaggerated words like mockery, deception, troublemaking, muckraking, fakery and fraud.


All I did was make a raging arty mistake, and if beauty apps and selfies had been invented in 1979, I wouldn't have had to go into hiding for a week, accused of ruining an artist's career.

When did you last take a selfie? Yesterday? Today? Last week? Never? Ever?

I've just snapped five and it's only 11 am! I snap selfies to ensure my eyebrows aren't crooked and that my face powder is 'dewy' and not 'gluey'! I delete my mid morn maquillage (make-up) snaps because if I didn't my I phone would be choked with selfies.

My friend Google told me that our phones are snapping ninety-four million photographs a day, with every third a selfie. Some psychologists have given selfie addicts a condition: acute selficitis! It's a mental disorder of pandemic proportions, linked to monumental levels of anxiety, depression, narcissism, loneliness, fakery, distortion and envy. People snapping endless selfies do so because they don't feel real. And a selfie proves that they are. It's like looking into a mirror, snap snap snap!

And if you're not already attuned to the fact, a beauty app makes you look younger, taller, thinner and sexier. You simply download it onto your phone, run your selfies through its filters, and - voila! There are thousands of different beauty apps available and the more money you spend, the more likely you are to look like a completely different person!

The beauty app reinvents every image taken by deceiving the world (and yourself) into believing that you're twenty years younger, with huge, innocent eyes and voluminous bee-stung lips. Your cheekbones are as high as a teenager on a Saturday afternoon, and your eyebrows? Elizabeth Taylorish! You can reshape the nose you've always disliked into a tiny little button called the 'Audrey Hepburn nose'. Your skin is Photoshop perfect. The beauty app has the power to make wrinkles, freckles, warts, pimples, sores and age spots completely disappear.

It's dangerous morphing your real self into a completely different person because you begin to view yourself through the lying rose-coloured glasses of the beauty app. I got a real shock last week when I brushed past a mirror in a chemist. The mirror didn't have a beauty app and seeing myself beauty-app-less came as a nasty shock. I didn't recognise the shorter, weary and more pinched version of myself!

Deep down we all think we're a little plain. (I don't know anybody who doesn't unless they're faking it!)

It's dangerous morphing your real self into a completely different person because you begin to view yourself through the lying rose-coloured glasses of the beauty app.

We squirm with uncomfortable vanity when a friend uploads images from the birthday party you both attended last week. The birthday party where you ate the wrong bread and looked eight months pregnant. The birthday party where your hair fell flat in your beetroot-red face. Your friend performed magic with her latest beauty app (on her but not on you) and she looks like a beautiful, veneered plastic version of herself, three inches taller and as thin as a reed. You're slumped beside her, more bloated than a dead body in stormy waters. You've got a double chin and you look like a pretty little pig.

Most women feel like a pretty little pig when friends upload unfiltered, unflattering images onto social media. The power abused, and trust refused, is like a 'bad reputation' - once you have a bad reputation, you're stuck with it for life. They follow you everywhere, those unbecoming, unfiltered images splashed all over the internet.

A beauty app was the last unthinkable thing on my mind when I was a young girl swanking around Hobart's Salamanca market.

I'd swank through the market looking for treasures in a mini- skirt made from frozen autumn leaves and bright yellow floor paint. I teamed the autumn leaves with a blush-pink cashmere cardigan and a navy-blue wool beret with bells sewn on it, pearl necklaces and a black beauty spot on each of my rouged cheeks.

The beret's garish pompoms had little bells inside, so you could hear me coming for miles. I'd also sewed plaits onto the beret to make it appear as though I had naturally long hair. I didn't have naturally long hair. In fact, I had the worst hair in Hobart.

  • The Handbag of Happiness (And other misunderstandings, misdemeanours and misadventures), published by Hardie Grant Books, is available now.