Lately, I have found myself watching commercials more consciously. And it seems that pretty much everything about me is simply not good enough — not my skin, my body shape, the way my house smells, or even my own role in my family.
This constant barrage of criticism can’t be good for my mental health, can it? Even though I can intellectually reject it, messages can still creep into my subconscious.
And if it’s not good for my mental health, then I certainly don’t want to expose my daughter (and son!) to it either. But wait … is it actually possible for her to avoid this kind of exposure? I can limit it but I cannot stop these commercials from reaching her at some point.
This is something that my husband and I have, regretably, had to accept. We’ve decided that it is more effective to teach our children how to think critically and challenge what it presented to them, than to spend all of our efforts ensuring that they are not exposed to this kind of mass-manipulation.
So if the television is on in our house and the woman on the television is telling me how to lose weight before bathing suit season, I will talk back to her: “Oh, shut up! I am fine the way I am and diets are unhealthy. You just want my money!” Or alternatively, “What’s wrong with the wrinkles around my eyes? They’re natural. It’s just something that happens when you age. Stop trying to sell me your stupid creams! And how come you don’t try and sell these creams to men, huh?”
I just thought you should know in case you drop by one day and find me talking to myself. Or yelling.
And also because I just found a gem of a woman named Sarah Haskins (thanks to Margot Magowan and About Face) and she does a tremendous job and breaking down the marketing techniques that specifically target women. Here is one of my favourites, titled “Target Women: Feeding your Family”:
Other great topics that she covers include: Disney Princesses, Cleaning Products, Yogurt, and Skin Care Science and even Vampires. I think her videos could be a great tool for parents who want to challenge media messages with their tweens and teenagers since she manages to combine a critical eye with wit and some well-chosen snark.
What do you think … did they give you a chuckle? did they make you think twice about how a commercial is manipulating you? And how does a woman manage to maintain any self-esteem these days when we’re faced with critical messaging all around us?
I’ve gotta go now. It’s bathing suit season around the corner and I need to go feed myself a liquid meal. :P