Are Your Insecurities Easy Targets of Marketing Campaigns?
It’s high time we stop looking at our characteristics and seeing them as flaws
I’ve had a long history of hating my body.
Though I try my best to project an image of body positivity in all my social media posts, I’ve had phases when I used to struggle with extreme dieting and binge-restrict cycles. Food held a lot of moral value for me when I was young, and eating too much made me a “bad” person.
Several years (and multiple counselling sessions) later, I’ve finally learned to appreciate myself the way I am. I’ve understood that my self-worth does not depend on how much I weigh and I’m allowed to eat as much food as I want.
Despite all the growth, I still have some incidents that trigger me. Earlier today, I was having a relaxed Friday morning when a promotional message from a lingerie seller website caught me by surprise.
“Side bulges?” it asked. “Sagging? Gaping? Here’s a fix to all your curvy fit problems.”
Looking at the message, my first instinct was to frown. I know my boobs sagged and that I did have some side bulges. Maybe I needed to buy a few new bras, I thought to myself. Maybe that would make me feel better?
A single message and I was ready to throw all the years of growth down the drain.
It was a spiral I knew would never end. That no matter how much weight I lost or how many accessories I purchased, it would never be enough. There would always be another imperfection to hide, another inch of fat at some obscure part of my body to lose — and the cycle would keep repeating.
I know how dark this can get. I didn’t want to fall into that rabbit hole of self-hate all over again.
It took a lot of self-control to stop myself from splurging my savings on their bra sale. And some intense journaling sessions to convince myself that it’s okay if my boobs sagged a little. They were affected by gravity, after all. It didn’t make them any less beautiful.
I was tempted to start hating myself again, but today, I told myself to be stronger. Today, I held my hand and stopped myself from falling back into that abyss from which I had clawed my way out so many years back.
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
I was still bothered by this message, though.
I was so upset; I had to share with my brother — who is aware of my journey and how hard I’ve fought to be where I am today.
He told me such a tactic was not uncommon. That every advertising campaign was designed to target the insecurities of its audience and highlight all that they lack in their life. Then, they would use that fear to cajole them into buying their product.
That’s alright. I understand that marketing is essential for companies to survive. But, for how long will the fashion industry continue to target these characteristics of my body and treat them as flaws?
The message is always the same: use this lipstick, buy this push-up bra, wear this dress — and that’s all you’ll ever need to look beautiful.
No matter how close to overflowing your wardrobe or make-up collection is, there’s always room for something more.
It’s never enough. You are never enough.
Honestly, what’s wrong with some side bulges, some sagging or some gaping? Every body is different. Every body is beautiful in its own way. There isn’t a single definition of beautiful, and all women are not supposed to adhere to that.
It’s 2020, and people are getting more and more aware of how important it is to love yourself and your body. In such times, why are marketing campaigns still claiming my body cannot be beautiful on its own accord? That I have to buy the product they’re selling if I harbour any hopes of being called beautiful?
I think it’s high time marketing campaigns focussed on creating a narrative that is less damaging to women and their self-image.
And as for us ladies, it’s important to understand that no matter how strong we think we are, there’ll always be a trigger, another reason to make us loathe our bodies. We have to put all our might into not letting this get to us.
We have to focus on staying positive.
“If we make self-love or body acceptance conditional, the truth is, we will never be happy with ourselves. The reality is that our bodies are constantly changing, and they will never remain exactly the same. If we base our self-worth on something as ever-changing as our bodies, we will forever be on the emotional roller coaster of body obsession and shame.”
— Chrissy King