“Every woman dreams of having longer, fuller, thicker lashes.”
So proclaimed a voice that echoed forth from the mondo flatscreen as I bounced along on my stair climber at the gym. And I thought, “Not true. I don’t dream of having longer, fuller, thicker lashes. And I’m a woman.”
And then I thought, “Hm. But maybe I should consider mascara. Would I look better if I learned to apply and wear it? Do I look like a stumpy-lashed weirdo now, and not even realize it?”
And then I though, “Shit. I fell for it again.”
There are countless products available to us as women that can boost our confidence, help us accentuate our best features, and allow us to present our best selves to the viewing world. Beauty products, health regimens, clothing and accessories, books, procedures, and gadgetry. And each of us has the right to pick and chose which of these we will pay for and utilize, and that’s fine. Good, even. We are actually quite lucky to have such a wealth of options at hand to help us explore how we want to look, and how we prefer to be shaped, and which aspects of our physical selves we’d like to accentuate.
But there is a giant, merciless, highly effective industry built up around making us feel horrible about how we ALREADY look, and are shaped, and which aspects of our physical selves are “imperfect” in their natural states.
This industry – this mega marketing machine – feeds on our fears. It can target a physical aspect, body part, color, shape, or texture that we’d never given a single moment’s thought, and turn it into a focal point of body-related self-loathing. The implication is seldom, “This will make you look and feel even better than you already do.” Far more frequently it is, “You are definitely not good enough on your own. Better start using this product so you’ll at least be up to par.” And while very few of us are paragons of physical perfection from birth to death, none of us should feel coerced into purchasing product after product merely to alleviate feelings of physical inadequacy.
When I automatically questioned the satisfactory length of my mascara-free eyelashes after being informed that “ALL WOMEN” dream of longer lashes, I felt dirty. A little sick. And angry at how easily I’d been manipulated.
This is one of those yelling-into-a-well issues for me. I feel like there’s relatively little we can do to inject more carefully-phrased and positively-themed messages into advertisements and marketing campaigns. But, as always, we can attempt to change how we react to them. When ads and marketing messages trigger the “buy for betterment” response, we can pause, breathe, and ask ourselves, “WILL this help me feel better? Look better? Be more confident? Or did I feel perfectly good about this part of me before I saw this confidence-destroying ad?”
Easier said than done, but well worth trying. After all, we tend to feel crappy enough about ourselves just from wrangling with stress, hormones, seasonal weight fluctuation, and breakouts … not to mention the equally toxic body-and-weight-related messages we get from Hollywood. Fighting back against malicious marketing messages that exist solely to make us feel like hideous lepers so that we’ll spend, spend, spend may not be the magical key to self-acceptance, but it sure can’t hurt.
Image courtesy !Just In Time!.
Originally posted 2009-01-09 07:12:00.