• Subtle Double-take: The Practicality of Rarity

    "Honest Apple" is an entire episode dedicated to Applejack's pragmatic honesty pitted against the world of designer clothes. The premise of the episode is funny enough with a clear message: don't be too critical. There's just one thing that intrigues me: Rarity's confidence in picking Applejack as a judge. Rarity, arguably Equestria's most fashion forward pony, simply thinks it's a good idea. So, was Rarity's decision based completely on a plot convenience?

    Trying my hoof at editorial writing for the first time here on Equestria Daily, I'm Platonic and I'd like to take an avant-garde look at "Honest Apple" and everyone's favorite fashion pony. A look into Rarity's motivations this episode after the break.

    It’s slightly confusing that Rarity chooses Applejack to be a fashion judge in Honest Apple. It's easy to look at the episode and just assume that Kevin Lappin flippantly had Rarity pressure AJ into the judging to get on with the story. There was no real build up to the moment of asking or even time for Rarity to show the audience that she'd given much thought to her decision. We're simply told it's an inspired choice and the confidence in Applejack is so staggering that not even Pinkie Pie could appreciate the logic.

    How crazy must something sound to throw Pinkie off?
    This is not to say Rarity is out of character for asking. She had asked Fluttershy to model for her in "Green Isn't Your Color." But in that instance Fluttershy wasn't being asked to assist with the actual construction of an outfit. She was there to model; be grace and beautiful.

    "Green Isn't Your Color" also presents more of Rarity's motivation for choosing Fluttershy because the pegasus has "elegance and poise." There is also a great moment where Fluttershy tries to talk her way out of it but no exscuse is good enough. It's probable Rarity has spent a considerable amount of off-screen time thinking this choice over. (And what a good choice it was.)

    How could you say 'no' to a face like that?

    To judge fashion requires more than just showing up and picking what you like. Applejack doesn't even posses a basic knowledge on the topic and there's no reason to think she does. It's too hard to believe she wouldn't have seen the shortcomings in picking Applejack considering how invested Rarity can become in her work.

    The first time I watched the episode I just assumed writer Kevin Lappin was new, doing whatever he was told, and I should just accept it. But I couldn't stop thinking about it and slowly a case for Rarity's sudden apperciation for practicality emerged.

    Generosity is one of Rarity's most defining characteristics. By having this contest, Rarity is staking her reputation on giving a new designer a free pass from obscurity into recognition.

    As far as the show goes, Rarity was never really given that kind of advantage starting out. She’s had to work hard to build her fashion empire. By winning this event, at least one pony can skip the obstacles of breaking into the fashion world. This isn’t a trivial pastime for Rarity, this is a genuine opportunity to be generous.

    Everything from showcasing the winning designs to picking judges will be a direct reflection on Rarity. Grant it, there's a little bit of selfish ambition here as the contest will garner some attention for the Carousel Boutique. After all, two big names in fashion will be there! But overall: She's Generous!

    Equestria Fashion Tip: Wear sungalsses indoors.

    The employment of Hoity Toity for his "expertise in fabric and stichwork" and Photo Finish for her "artistic eye for shapes and colors" are justifiable. Applejack only offers the perspective of knowing what she likes. Though AJ is a good friend, including a judge that could literally put Rarity's fashion career in jeopardy doesn't seem like the kind of move a savvy couturier would make. Applejack doesn't know fashion or understand what the other judges are even talking about.

    I would have gone with Hoity Toity here; that belt complements the look.
    However, despite Applejack's lack of fashion sense and tact throughout the entire contest, Rarity continues to push for Applejack's presence. Even during her epic guitar venting session with Pinkie Pie, Rarity never considers the possibility of asking Applejack to step down.

    "Some of her thoughts are tough to swallow, but hopefully her candor will help the designers achieve the best designs possible."

    Fashion is art. To each person or pony, art is something different and serves different purposes. Applejack’s practicality couldn’t see the purpose or function of the young designers’ work and she becomes detrimental to the growth of the artists.

    The aftereffects of Applejack's 'constructive criticism.'

    There is no way Rarity couldn't have noticed this throughout the episode. She already knew AJ had a lack of fashion sense and a crippling dependence on practicality because of "Suited for Success."

    They may all look ridiculous, but at least Applejack's ready if it rains.

    At this point you can't believe Rarity only wants the farmer's participation for the sake of practicality. AJ's involvment means more. Rarity has been good friends with Applejack since getting to really know her in "Look Before You Sleep." And since then the two have been teaching each other quiet a lot.

    "What have we just learned?"

    Rarity has been so influenced by Applejack and in "Honest Apple" she is assuming Applejack has learned just as much from her. What if Rarity didn't think Applejack was ill-suited for the position because, in her mind, her friend had learned all the necessary effects to repsect the art form Rarity loves?

    Rarity herself points out in "Honest Apple" that designers often forget about the importance of practicality. Rarity knows that she and her other guest share this weakness. Luckily, she has a friend that can understand her position and provide gentle guidance for the contestants.

    In season 8, everypony who's anypony will be wearing one.

    The more 'imaginative' runway designs will never make it to mass production because they lack functionality. Regardless of the statement, expression, or heart a designer pours into a dress, if consumers don’t buy it, it's a failure.

    Rarity seeking balance between artistic vision and reasonable performance.

    Rarity is working to balance form and function. Episodes like "Inspiration Manifestation" best illustrate the fashionista's struggle. She could create a stunning puppet stage, but other than being gawked at it was useless.

    Maybe Lyra could use this stage for her finger puppets.

    In "Honest Apple," Rarity is trying to spare the young designers from this pitfall by getting a judge who can easily guide them away from such flaws.

    In Rarity's mind, there is no pony more qualified to speak into the world of fashion than Applejack. This isn't just because she is practical, but because Applejack has been providing healthy perspective to Rarity since before her fashion career took off.

    In “Look Before You Sleep” Applejack was a voice of reason to stop obsessing over little details to see what really matters;

    “Sisterhooves Social,” she encouraged repairing relationships and being willing to compromise with others;

    “Simple Ways,” AJ taught the downfalls of changing who you are to win the affections of others;

    “Applejack’s Day Off,” she demonstrates the benefit of getting an outside perspective;

    “Made in Manehatten,” she's the champion of the impact simplicity.

    These small lessons continue throughout the entire series with every encounter having Rarity learn more that levelheadedness isn't the enemy of art. Their friendship actually had the power to change Rarity's views of her craft. Why wouldn't the couturier assume the same for her friend?

    And, of course, Applejack's had moments throughout the last few seasons where she expresses a more of an appreciation for aesthetics and creative thinking, she just hasn't come to the place where she can enjoy things she doesn't see the use in yet. Rarity's learned the worth of practicality, and while it might not always be a head-turner in the fashion industry, practicality is essential for trends to happen.

    The practical purpose of this dress: To make a pony feel fabulous! And be able to walk.
    What Rarity lacks is an understanding of how other's learn from friendship.

    That while Applejack's pragmatic lifestyle was one of the necessary elements to Rarity's own success it doesn't mean that Rarity's influences on the apple farmer have left the same impressions. However, Rarity is blinded to this fact.

    And because she's so generous, Rarity wanted Applejack to share in the excitement of what combining their strengths could do for others. By the time Rarity finally accepts the fault in her own logic, the damage is already done.

    The moment I hugged my computer screen. Don't Cry Rarity!
     But Rarity doesn't just get mad and leave it there, she decides to teach Applejack the lesson she assumed the farmer already knew: there's a difference between being honest and being cruel.

    Life's little teachable moments.

    Rarity immediately introduces Applejack to a situation that will help the farmer understand the hurt she caused others. While still upset, Rarity encourages the current headache of the hour to couple her grounded intuition with her understanding of relationship; appreciate ponies' different opinions and contributions.

    True regret, she's crying on the outside.

    Of course Applejack is able to save the contest and apologizes for the pain she's caused, but it was really only possible because Rarity first had such great confidence in their friendship.

    "Now that y'all know I'm strong enough to drag ya back, let's save some time and just start the fashion show."
    Honesty has to be presented with compassion: Applejack avoids answering with her negative opinions on fashion and instead chooses to focus on the work ethic behind it. This skill in tact no doubt came from other times AJ got to see Rarity handle uncomfortable situations gracefully.

    I do wonder if Rarity would ever consider inviting Applejack back as a judge for another contest or if the farmer would even agree to do it. I do know Applejack is already applying this lesson as she can admit "there's such thing as being too honest too."

    Though the episode wasn't meant to cover this topic, I think "Honest Apple" can remind us not to be blinded to areas where people still need growth. It can be just as hard to see the faults in loved ones as in ourselves. Rarity knew she lacked practicality, but she couldn't see the potential downfalls of forcing a pony into an area of zero experience.

    At no point was Rarity at fault for what her friend said and did to the contestants, but she did fail to see that Applejack was struggling with the experience.

    I would say the fashionista's choice of a judge wasn't a plot contrivaince so much as a character failing to recognize a friend's inability to juggle her own talents with the unknown. With so much emotion wrapped up in the contest, perhaps it's understandable how the mistake was made.

     Of course this is all speculation, but it was worth a double-take.