“[Advertisers] butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear…They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate…You owe the companies nothing.”
Banksy, “Wall and Piece”
It’s been floating around the blogosphere for a while now, and I had a hell of a time tracking down the source, and I don’t really condone vandalism*, but there are some grains of truth in that excerpt. It’s alarming how much advertising has influenced society, and not just in the Mad-Men “get people to buy these cigarettes” way, although that’s alarming in and of itself. I’m referring more to the ingrained social practices, like women shaving, which were made up by advertisers to sell a product. I’m referring to our standards of beauty which are defined and reinforced by the ads we see on TV and billboards and magazines multiple times per day, and the numerous ways in which those advertisements sell their products by making us feel ashamed of obscure body parts (like armpits).
Isn’t that bizarre? I mean, think about it. Why do I feel insecure about my pointy nose? Because models and actresses have cute, unobtrusive noses. Why are so many (like, maybe all) women insecure about Tummy Pooch? Because models and actresses seem to have flat stomachs. They don’t seem to have “problems” like these, so we should be able to look just like them, right?
They also have expensive beauty products and stylists and, oh yeah, Photoshop, but that’s a rant for another day.
I don’t even have any good solutions. I just hope people think more critically about why they dislike certain aspects of their appearance and get to the root of why they feel that way, and if they should at all. Because odds are good you already look and/or are fantastic.