I have never really thought that I was one of those people swayed by marketing. Truthfully I thought I was born with the desire to wear diamonds, drive a Benz and dress myself from head to toe in the latest designer brands. After all, it’s only normal to want the best quality things around you right? It’s just an innate yearning. Like girls being drawn to pink, and boys wanting to play cops and robbers. Just like gay guys being effeminate and all football players living “the straight lifestyle.” Thin has ALWAYS been the best body type (for women) and muscular has always been the male standard. All just naturally occurring ideals. No manipulation by media and marketers to be seen here at all.
Well, today, as I stood on my bathroom scale again (despite my pledge to only weigh in once a week), I had one of those moments where it just hit me outta the blue . I am just as affected as anyone by the messages we are constantly bombarded with. The worst part? It’s not just one message, or one bias that I came to recognize. I have been victim to a multi-faceted marketing ploy that aims to make me UNHAPPY as a means of motivating me to purchase products and services. The attempt to make me PURCHASE isn’t the focus of my anger here though. It’s the “unhappiness” that is used as the motivation. Society as a whole has been bombarded with messages “if only you were thinner you’d be loved” “if only you wore Dolce and Gabbana people would want to be you” “your life would be happier if you followed this diet program” “if you owned this car women would want to be with you.” (thank god I don’t care about women wanting to “get with me” lol). The more I think about this, the angrier I get, and the less I can understand why this is even allowed!! It’s actually funny if you think about it from the right angle. There are laws governing advertising. People have actually sued companies (like RedBull) for false advertising (when they drank the product and were NOT granted WINGS) and WON!!! Yet, ad campaigns constantly promise things that never materialize. Imagine the uproar from all the major companies trying to get you to part with your money, if they were forced to provide all the outcomes they “imply” in their ads constantly??? It’s just outrageous what they can get away with when you think about it really.
Then, even when you think you recognize the marketing ploys and have innoculated yourself against their effects, you spend an evening at the movies. Some how, magically, EVERYONE gets their happy ending (and I’m not talking dirty here). All of the details work out. The main characters exit the screen in a state of organized bliss. WE however, leave the theatre and head home to our lives full of family stress, tax problems, over bearing bosses and busy schedules which never seem to make sense or get resolved. AND WE WONDER WHY OUR LIVES AREN’T LIKE THE MOVIES. We are constantly sold an expectation of beauty/perfection/eternal happiness/sucess which ISN’T REAL. We are given an unacheivable goal to reach, but we keep trying to get there…. always unhappy with where we are AT THIS MOMENT.
The effects of such marketing are never done. Even as I was standing on that scale, looking at the numbers, stepping off then back on the scale (because you know…. the numbers will magically change and FINALLY be the number you want….. and of course you take the best of 3, 4, 5, 6 right? That is the rule?), I kept saying to myself “please be in the 170’s please be in the 170’s (because 179.9 is HUGELY different than the 180.3 I was yesterday). That’s when I realized that I am everybit as much a “Walmart shopper” as the next guy. The psychological thrill of that “2 cent rollback” (from $7.01 to $6.99) gets me just as much as anyone else apparently. Even as I was having that thought, the scale flashed me the digits 179.8……. AND I SMILED!!! (what is WRONG with me?).
As I sat down to try and deal with my thoughts I began to flip through Facebook, and came across a post from a friend which led me to a blog post where a woman talked about her attempts (very sucessful I might add) at loosing weight and “discovering her true self.” Turns out she ended up realizing that loosing the weight was the easiest part, because she was left with a much slimmer body which still held the exact same person. She hadn’t really found the time to deal with her issues of self doubt and lack of self-love while loosing the weight. She found people looking at her differently, saying things like “I don’t even recognize you!” thinking they were being complimentary, but really just leaving her feeling like her “former” self was unworthy of attention, respect or love and that many people now saw and talked to her differently, as though she could not understand the backhanded compliments people were dropping at her feet. (read it here if you like… https://cannebodyhearme.wordpress.com). I was just floored. The whole concept of how people’s expectations and reality are often in such “disconnect” due to the constant messaging is weirdly understandable and unbelievable all at the same time . In this case, the whole “everything will be better once you get slim” message we are so used to was the carrot in use.
As if I hadn’t thought about it enough, the theme stuck with me through the day. Even at the end of my workday, while checking in with facebook (yeah I know I do that far too often. Todd says that with the number of facebook friends I have my facebook feed moves at the speed of the autobhan….) I came across another article from a personal trainer Davey Wavey, who I think is quite the awesome video blogger…. (not because he’s attractive or gay or any of those things). His post had to do with expectations and reality in the realm of fitness and body building. He was very much being an advocate for body acceptance, because truthfully not everyone can or should be trying to reach a goal being portrayed by fitness cover models and bodybuilders. These people end up sacrificing a real life of careers, family, friends and relationships just to be able to spend enough time in the gym to maintain their bodies. Working out THREE TIMES A DAY and then spending a small fortune in food to fuel the workouts, not to mention the darker underbelly of that world which can include steriods, enhancing drugs and oil injections to promote the desired shape. (if you like you can read it for yourself here…. http://www.daveywaveyfitness.com/inspiration-2/youll-never-look-like-this-and-thats-okay). It was refreshing to see someone who makes a significant portion of their living promoting fitness (and looks very well conditioned himself) try and make a case for reasonable expectations.
To say the least, today was a collection of moments which sent me on a quite a ride ending at my keyboard writing this blog. I know it’s not food or kitchen related. There is no recipe. There are no cooking tips, no calorie counts attached. This blog is simply about not forgetting who you are in the middle of trying to reach a goal. It’s a reminder that a number on a scale isn’t everything. A conversation about society trying to make you feel bad about who you are. My goal today, if I do nothing else is to make sure you realize that the number on the scale does not determine your worth. Your ability to stick to a calorie goal for the day will not be the measure of your sucess in life. If we wrap all of our self worth up in a physical shell we won’t ever be happy and fulfilled. We won’t be setting a very good example for the others who share our lives, and we certainly won’t be “winning” at the game of life. There is no magic elixir. Happy endings don’t often drop into our laps. I have to accept that the only person who can control my expectations is me. It’s time to stop living for tomorrow (which never comes) and measuring myself against someone else’s standards. Yes, my number may now be 179.8 and I may think that’s a wonderful accomplishment, but so is finding the time to have dinner with my husband and just being the me I’ve always been. I’m not giving up on trying to improve myself, but I am just for this moment, going to relax, breathe and enjoy the moment I’ve been given….. before it’s gone forever. Maybe you should too.