Thursday, July 06, 2006

Living for the rain?

I was talking with my boss the other day about the world of advertising. She received her Ph.D. in the area, so she’s a pretty credible source. Talking to her made me think about some things.

Advertising is effective in capitalizing on people's insecurities. Some would even argue that advertising is, in fact, the very cause of the insecurity. You're too fat. You're not pretty enough. You have too many zits on your face. Your breath stinks. Many advertisers are trained to say anything and everything to root out our emotional base. That's how they sell their product. In simpler terms, most folks don’t buy the things they do or do the things they do out of necessity, but rather out of social appeal. We do certain things (like buying stuff) off of our emotions and then try to back it up with our logic. Isn't it funny how relationships work the same way?! Emotion first, logic second...if at all.

If you think about it, this philosophy even permeates in the church. I would argue that most people don’t actually come to church to worship; their attendance is based on some sort of ‘feelings’. But I'm actually not going to focus on the issues of the church today. The issues that I have at this moment stretch further than the church. That's for another discussion down the road...

For the sake of today's rant: Has anyone seen that Jenny Craig commercial with Kirstie Alley, advertising her 55-pound weight loss? In this commercial, we have Kirstie Alley walking down a dark street with a long dark overcoat. Some guy, doing some sort of ‘cat-call’ (if that’s what you wanna call it) says something to the effect of “Oooh. You’re lookin’ good!” She turns to the camera and says “Is he talking to me?” At this point, she strips off the overcoat and starts dancing jubilantly in the streets with a bunch of male dancers to the song “It’s Raining Man.” Seriously! I’m not making this up. The major theme of this commercial – to me – is that once you lose the weight, it'll start ‘raining men’ (or women) in your life. Then, you can start to feel good about yourself.

Commercials like this make me wonder: Do we go take care of ourselves because of our self-love or to be accepted by others?

Now to be fair, as a single man, I would LOVE for it to ‘rain women’. Though I talk a mean game about how cool it is to be single, I’ve always longed to find that one for me. I mean, who doesn’t want companionship? But, I think we have to realize that we shouldn’t just do stuff so that people will validate us. Neither should we do things just to satisfy our insecurities. Not good, not good!

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for doing well for yourself; whether it be in the health and fitness arena, your academic life, your professional career, family life, etc. In fact -- as my best friend pointed out to me -- I need to start taking inventory on my own issues. I’m equally supportive of anyone who wants to look and feel good about themselves, but only if it's for themselves. But why would you eliminate the dependency on wealth, success, food, etc. that you once had, only to replace it with a dependency on other people’s impressions of you? Isn't that what we do?

So, the next time you're out there maxing out your credit card at your favorite clothing store, starving yourself to lose that extra 2 lbs., or putting yourself in massive debt trying to buy that new car, ask yourself a simple question: Am I doing this for me or for how someone else will respond to me?

- ACL

22 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

ajbendaña said...

Awsome post Andre, I see exactly what you mean, but we have to ask ourselves why we have these insecurities of ourselves. Who instills them in the population, where do they stem from? I have come to realize that alot of the things that made me insecure started out in my youth. Someone said somthing or we saw somthing that triggered it. I find that thinking back to that initial moment and analyzing it helps me realize how powerful these gashes in peoples egos really are. It also helped me over come them by helping me see how somthing so trivial could affect us so much. Once i find the source of the insecurity i just place it in my given box and it does not affect me nearly as much as it once did.

Not a Republican said...

Andre,

I think it's really strange that you think that I'm someone that you know.

Your post is pretty on point. Sometimes, however, we do have to alter ourselves to impress people. That's generally what happens when you go on a job interview. You put on a suit, (even though you may hate suits) make sure that you're nice and neat (even though you may perfer the grundgy look) and try to impress some people that you don't know. I think that we should care what people think, to very limited extent. I mean, what if the diciples were like, "Hey Jesus, I don't care what you think about the way that I am. I'm just going to be me!" Obviously Jesus' view of us out-weighes any other view, but you should still at least take into consideration what people say. The way that you act may be ruining your testimony to non-believers. If you're not receptive to change and to taking a critical look at yourself, then your thoughts and views may keep someone out of the Kingdom! But like you said, make sure that when you alter yourself in any way, that it's for the RIGHT reason!

Andre said...

Hey Aldo,

Good point about the roots/sources of our insecurities. To me, most people's insecurities are almost inherent; not in the sense that we were BORN with them, but that they protrude in our lives even as early as childhood. It's sad and disturbing.

I hope my nephew doesn't become victimized by the superficial "standards" that lead to the development of insecurity.

Andre said...

@ Not a Republican: I think you may have missed the point of my argument. When you have to "wear a suit" for the sake of an interview or just because it reflects your company's culture, you're only doing so to assimilate into that world WHILE YOU'RE THERE. Once you leave that establishment, you're free to do, say, think, and wear whatever you want. Essentially, you play THEIR GAME while you're on THEIR PLAYGROUND. You only have to TOTALLY transform into a Corporate American while you're in Corporate America (I'm only using this an example. You can apply this logic to anything).

But when we're dealing with our own personalities, we should NEVER compromise them for the sake of anyone else's impressions. If I'm content with a low-paying job that I love, then I shouldn't be pressured into a high-paying job that I hate just to satisfy someone else. If I'm happy being a few pounds overweight, I shouldn't starve myself to look like Brad Pitt just to earn someone else's approval.

I once heard someone say that before I can love someone else, I have to love myself. If I'm so willing to change things about myself so quickly for someone else's approval, how can I say I love myself?

Andre said...

By the way, I probably don't know you. It just seems like I do.

Carry on.

Anonymous said...

It's funny that you wrote about this because; not too long ago; I had a dispute with a friend who I thought respected me. This friend tried to call me out suggesting that I was too caught up in appearance.

The fact is, I don't need to apologize to her or anyone else for taking care of myself, staying healthly and trying to look good. Maybe if more people were the same, we wouldn't have so much obesity.

ajbendaña said...

"Maybe if more people were the same, we wouldn't have so much obesity."

Whoa buddy, why you throwing blows? I can understand your situation with your friends but whats the deal with this statment above. I dont think Andre ment that taking care of yourself is a bad thing. Everyone should... if its for yourself... I think the point of this post was to say that you should not do things merely to gain the approval or accptance from society, but to do it for your own betterment.

Andre said...

@ anonymous: Easy killer! My post wasn't meant to call anybody out. Nor was it intended to make anybody feel bad or "apologize" for taking care of themselves. The only point I was trying to make was that if you're going to do stuff, make sure it's FOR YOU and not to gain approval from others.

There are certain pitfalls that come with doing too much self 'improvement' to satisfy someone else. If I, for instance, feel like the only way for me to attract people is to lose weight, then I become obsessed in doing so. Once the weight is lost, then my NEW obsession becomes keeping people attracted to me. It creates a cycle; where all you're doing is trying to please others while you completely disregard what would REALLY make you happy/content.

I wasn't trying to call you out on this one...especially since I don't EVEN KNOW who you are.

@ ajbendaña: Good save, dawg! I couldn't agree with you more.

chubby said...

TO Anonymous
There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking pride in ones self image , nothing wrong with keeping in shape , but you are quick to judge the larger people of the population , that makes you judgemental and harsh .Just because a person is different than you does not make them any less beautiful or worthy in anyway or a target for you to justify your self image . You not only need to work on your physical being but your personality needs a little tuning. live and let live and dont make life hard for others through your nastiness.Do it for yourself , not for how people see you !Be careful ,,,,he who throws the first STONE may just get a larger one back!!!!
CHUBBY!!!!!

Andre said...

@ Anonymous: I'm not going to villify you for your statements. In fact, I appreciate your perspective and your insight; especially as it relates to challenging obesity. But, I also have to be critcal of why it is you made that observation. If you abhor obesity because of it's physical implications (heart disease, high cholestorol, etc.), then I'm with you. It's sad that some many Americans have succumb to being WAAAAY to overweight (especially given how many people in the world are starving today). But, if you're only attacking obesity as a social imperfection or a sign of "ugliness", then you've missed my point.

Basically, if you want to look good for your OWN health and your OWN well-being, go for it. If you're only doing it to fit into that size 6 so that the guys will start looking at you, you're doing it for the wrong reasons. At least I think so...

Andre said...

@ chubby: Great comments, by the way. I think that if more people had the mind that you have, so many people wouldn't be out there starving themselves, amassing debt trying to buy a bunch of material s***, and focused on the external; but would, instead, focus on cultivating their inner strength and beauty.

Thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

I don't care how you try to spin it, appearance DOES matter. So nobody...NOBODY is going to me feel bad for looking good and feeling good.

That goes double for you, "chubby" (or should I say "Say it loud. I'm fat and I'm proud").

Andre said...

@ anoynmous: What's with the hostility here?! Nobody's challenging your "looking/feeling" good.

I agree: appearance matters. All I'm saying (and I think everyone else is too, but I could be wrong) is that it shouldn't be ALL that you strive for. Certainly, it shouldn't be because of what someone else thinks. Even though appearance DOES matter, it's a novelty that will wear off eventually. There has to be substance behind it.

Yesterday, for example, I went to dinner with a couple of friends after church. On my way to the restroom, I passed by a GORGEOUS young lady in the lobby area. While I was passing her, she gave me smile. So, while I was in the bathroom, I was straightening my clothes, checking the breathe; making sure my appearance was decent; in the likely chance that maybe...just maybe...we'd talk. When I returned from the restroom, she was gone. I spent all that time trying to look good; to no avail.

But, the biggest question is: Why did it take for me running into this young lady for me to try "looking good"?

The point of the post was to identify how we need to love ourselves, take care of ourselves, and celebrate ourselves FOR ourselves...

Chubby said...

anonymous
Whoever you are , hopefully your beauty or whatever last a long ,long time ,you will need it . The point is , LISTEN UP ....... looks and appearance are not the problem ,it is your ATTITUDE...about others ....... no one is trying to make you feel bad about taking care of yourself , it is your rude comments about others that I have an issue with ,,,YOU DONT HAVE TO MAKE A NEGATIVE COMMENT about someone else's appearance to make your good looks etc even better or to be ok to be vain ,If You dont get it now you never will so goodbye

CHUBBY

joanne said...

I couldn't agree with you all more.

After I gave birth, many things started to change for me. During the first few month's after my child's birth, I was almost addicted to exercising; day and night. Within six months, I lost almost 30 lbs, most of which was picked up during my pregnancy. I didn't want to stop until got down to a size 6.

But, eventually, it hit me. If I was going to punish myself to lose the rest of that weight, it HAD to be for me. I needed to love me as I was -- and that if I dropped the rest, it would be for my own comfort and health, and not to fit into a size 6. My husband loves me for who I am. My daughter loves me for who I am. My friends and family love me for who I am. Why couldn't I?

Only in the past month or two have I finally started to work hard on fitness...but this time, it's because I want to feel healthy, not because my ego needs a snack.

Andre said...

Nice to hear from you, joanne. I thought you gave up on me for a second. :)

ajbendaña said...

wow, i have never seen someone miss the point so badly as anonymous has. even after three explaination. Well thats a lie i have seen it but it always gets me.

monique said...

It's time for met to put MY two cents in, once again. There is nothing wrong with wanted to look good (whatever that means to you). I'll take me for example...I always complain about how fat I am and how I need to loose weight (while I'm eating cookies:)but my boyfriend constantly tells me how good I look. I know that he loves me regardless of how I feel about myself, but I still can't help but feel self-conscious about the way I look, thus my need to loose weight. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH WANTING TO LOOK GOOD, I just think you need to do it in a healthy way.

green eyed girl on planet earth said...

Andre~ MY GEM
Oh where are youuuuuuuuuuu, come out, come out wherever you are ???? Hope all is well and your OK and having a glorious time doing something fun .
Take care
Greeneyes

ellena said...

Interesting argument, Andre. But, I love the WAY you write just as much as what you have to say. Thanks for another great post!

Andre said...

@ chele: What happened to ajbendaña?! Did it get too hard to use the "ñ"? Just foolin'...

At any rate, I wouldn't waste time doing anymore arguing with our anonymous friend. We think one way, (s)he thinks another. But, it's hard to get him/her to see things from our side because us being the majority makes him/her feel attacked. His/her hostility is only a defense mechanism.

@ Monique: Eh. You're probably just fat. Ohhh, I'm joking! Sheesh!

I think it's cool that your boyfriend loves you for what you are; not just how you look. But be careful: if you keep selling yourself short as being fat and unattractive, his attraction for you might ware off. Noboby likes to hear sob stories all the time. Besides that, I'm sure you're a gorgeous person both internally and externally. That being said, munch away on those cookies, lady...

@ Greeny: Hey my love! Summer semester is kickin' my anus. While I haven't been as active in writing lately (which is a shame, because there's a lot on my heart), I've tried to at least comment on other people's responses and check out other people's stuff from time to time. But, I assure you: I'm a alive and well. Well, I'm alive anyway...

@ ellena: Thanks for your kind words. How have you been lately?!

green eyed girl on planet earth said...

Hello
Andre` My GEM :}
GLAD TO hear your ok!but it
saddens me
to hear theres alot on your heart,hopefully your heart will soon be light and carefree ! Vent it all ,I'll listen :}
I didnt figure out why my email bounced back ??????I checked the address you left on my blog , very funny giving me the Pennitentary's address !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hope the summer sessions are not to hard on your uhhhmmmmm ANUS , hey your word!hope you get to
enjoy some fun times soon , dont work too hard , and relax a little "ALL work
and no play makes Andre` an angry man!"
Greeneyes