We are led to believe that we are ‘lacking’ in some way. Brands tap into our insecurities to sell us what they claim will be the solution to all our problems, convincing us that our happiness depends on their product(s.) Take makeup, for example. Makeup as an industry is worth over 1.74 billion British pounds (Statista.com.) When you really think about the concept of makeup, its main purpose is to conceal the parts of ourselves that we don’t like. What makeup companies don’t want us to know is that makeup accentuates our insecurities. We buy into the promise that it will ‘heal’ our debilitating self-esteem, when it in fact does the opposite.
People only buy something if they believe it will solve a problem. Therefore, to sell more stuff, industries ensure there is always a ‘problem’ to be perceived. When one problem is solved, another two are created. The cycle of unfulfillment is never ending as we are constantly bombarded with unattainable imagery of the ‘perfect’ life from the mass media.
The makeup industry profits from the lack of confidence and desire to be loved that most women suffer from, evident by its colossal net worth. People are that desperate for happiness that they will buy just about anything.
To increase the level of comparison we undertake with the ideals we’re presented with in the media, marketers use influencers, paying celebrities to promote brands. The idea behind this is to get people to think of certain product(s) when we see certain celebrities (association.) Marketers know what motivates their target audience, and they use this knowledge to exploit customers. People lacking in body confidence are frequently sold the lie by diet companies that; ‘our plan will get you the perfect body.’ The only way women are ‘empowered’ by marketing is to feel bad about themselves and buy more things. The promise of happiness always sells; therefore, women will always be made to feel inferior by brands who want to profit from their insecurities.
In the advert linked above, Cheryl Cole is being paid to promote L’Oréal as the face of their brand. Viewers are shown a highly made up, narrow version of female beauty, beauty that is often unachievable. The text in the ad reads ‘what if you could transform your skin to look pixel-perfect?’ The product that is being advertised is a new moisturizer called; ‘Skin Perfection.’ Cheryl is seen applying the cream followed by a close up capture of her wrinkle and blemish free skin. She can be seen smiling, suggesting that this cream will solve all your problems and bring you happiness, something we know, rationally, is completely unrealistic. L’Oréal’s marketing is striving to appeal to our subconscious desire to have the perfect skin, the perfect life, and constant happiness.
But it’s not just the makeup industry who are fuelling the ‘epidemic’ in low self-esteem, it is happening across all industries, all over the world.
We are exposed to adverts on a daily, no, hourly basis, that force us to think about ourselves in terms of everything we’re not. We’re not thin enough, smart enough, talented enough, or happy enough. We’re comparing ourselves to people who aren’t real. They’re conjured up by marketing companies to sell the ‘perfect’ ideal. Because these people we so desperately want to be like are in fact made up, marketers can get away with changing them, constantly shifting the goal post. Notice how the ‘perfect’ body changes over time? We’ve seen the popularity in thigh gaps, the rise in wanting a ‘big bum’ and a ‘skinny waist.’ Anti-cellulite cream, anti-wrinkle cream- these products are all profiting from the belief in a false ideal that never really existed at all. What will be next, you might wonder? Whatever the mass media decide they can make the most money from, that is what will be next.
So, remember, ‘in a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.’ Break the mould. Like yourself.