Insecurities – should you let the cosmetic industry play on them?

You don’t see so many adverts that flagrantly play on your insecurities nowadays.  This is just as well.  There is only so much vomit available to respond to them.  But that doesn’t mean that the same basic technique isn’t still at play.  

If you look at adverts for beauty products they often hint strongly that there is something wrong with the way you look.  Are your eyelashes as long and strong as Cheryl Cole’s for instance is the message of a recent campaign by L’Oreal to promote their highly priced and intricately packaged mascara. I picked that one at random, there are simply so many.

I have been reading Stephen Fry’s autobiography, the Fry Chronicles, and it is tragic to read how insecure he is with his body.  He wouldn’t comply to the Classical Greek ideal of beauty to be sure (though he could probably write an essay on the subject).  But he is far from being an unattractive man in a big bouncy hugmuffin sort of a way.  Given that he is highly intelligent and very perceptive you might think he would be able to cope with his body image problems.  But it seems not.  If he can’t see himself for what he is I don’t suppose the rest of us have much chance of viewing ourselves with scientific detachment.  I dread to think what the number of adverts that highlight what is wrong with us do to vulnerable people who are not happy with the way they look.

If it is any consolation, that we are not good at assessing ourselves has been shown in several scientific studies.  Men tend to underestimate how fat they are, and woman to overestimate.  Body image is an easy target for advertisers.

I think a good trick is to think through what the real message of any advert you see is.  If it is trying to play on your insecurities it is best to ignore it.  This is easier said than done, but it does help to label it as such in your mind. We all want to look our best and there are products out there that help us do so.  But make the companies work for your cash by coming with something that does something, not by making us all feel bad.

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5 thoughts on “Insecurities – should you let the cosmetic industry play on them?”

  1. I love the phrase”big bouncy hugmuffin”! There’s a movement for curvy ladies/”real” women, but generally, chubby guys just have to pretend they don’t really care how they look. I’ve only dated a couple husky men, but there is something appealing about having a fluffy teddybear-man to snuggle with! It’s great to try to be in as good of shape and healthy as you can, but if you’re the type of person that always has an extra X lbs that just won’t leave, it’s really not going to stop people from being attracted to you!

  2. I’m looking forward to one day seeing some cosmetics ads that project a ‘you’re ok just the way you are’ message. Maybe, just maybe it would sell more product and get everyone else to follow suit. I’m truly tired of the ‘you’re not quite good enough unless you buy our product’ message that completely dominates cosmetics advertising.

  3. Didn’t Dove try this? With normal sized models?

    These advertisements are very subtle. You don’t really think “omg, so that’s why I’m so unattractive”, but rather you get into your head that despite this and that miracle product you’re still going to look the same pale, unperfect creature you are. I guess I’ve just been disappointed by “get the false lash look without false lashes!” -type of advertising way too often. Ended up looking painted on a few too many times to believe any make up foundation is ever going to make me flawless.

  4. “reducing the appearance of wrinkles” makes me always laugh. Before and after pictures as well. If you look closely you will see the different expressions on the models face to get the desired pics, which you can do yourself at home! I dont know anybody who walks around with a magnifying glass looking at wrinkles on faces.
    Like before and after pictures for shapeware. All you have to do is ” stand up straight, chin up, shoulders back, stomach in, bottom under” as my dear mother used to say, and you have achieved a result for no money!

  5. Stone the crows, but I’m the sort of woman who likes the “hugmuffin” physique. We’re not talking Jabba the Hut size or any thing, just a man with some substance on his bones. Never was attracted to skinny fellows.

    I can’t say that the ageing process doesn’t spank your self-esteem pretty hard for a while, but most sensible women (and men) eventually learn to accept the fact that if it isn’t happening, your probably dead. You do your best of course, but at the same time, it can be quite liberating. The fashion and beauty industry becomes increasingly disinterested in you once you pass the big 4-0. So you can sit back and chuckle at the blatant sales pitches

    I do feel sorry for the target demographic though. I don’t recall there ever being the sort of O.T.T. pressure in the past to look and feel 19 all your life like there is today.


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