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.
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?