As women, we’ve been targeted by the media since we were (approximately) eleven years old – a time before we knew what the words "catch phrase" or "manipulation" meant. Unfortunately, at the onset of the media’s manipulation we were in our "formative years" – the years when we wanted to look like anything other than ourselves. We were targeted to believe that “beauty” lived in the various hair, skin, clothing and makeup advertisements. (Do you remember how those “advertisements” made you feel or how they never quite captured your
beauty)? Don’t feel bad if you missed the subtle manipulation, it was done intentionally by “state of the art marketing campaigns”. Fortunately, we have come to know that we're not those people in advertisements, we're ourselves. Hallelujah!
I've tried to instill in my daughter, and all young women, "no two flowers are alike, take pride in your uniqueness”. However meaningful these simple words may be, they often fail against the onslaught of the “beauty industry’s” targeted advertisements. Long ago I asked my daughter to bring home her magazines - the magazines that “influenced” her. In each magazine there were numerous advertisements telling her that she was not enough - she was “encouraged” to dye her hair, buy tons of makeup, get plastic surgery, and shave everything that could possibly be shaved, purchase clothing a “designer” designed at a price that was outrageous and well out of her means. (We noted that there were no advertisements telling young men that they weren’t enough). I refused to have those “magazines” in our home - I would have no part of anyone suggesting that my daughter was not enough. She was, and continues to be, more than enough. I continue to be in awe of her beauty, intelligence and talent. And no, this is not a “mother’s pride,” this is an elder woman’s recognition of a young woman’s inherent beauty - a beauty that no “industry” could ever hope to manufacture, or duplicate.
I often wonder why this manipulation continues. Why we’ve lost appreciation of ourselves, why we continue to believe “if it costs and enormous amount of money it must be good”, and that we spend our money and support an industry that harms us, and encourages us to be anything but ourselves? We know better.
I’m fairly educated in alternative healing practices (Plant medicine, Organic Skin care, etc.,) and just the other day I found myself (almost) falling for a manipulative advertisement. It assured me that “I would smell like a summer’s garden,” and that I would be “walking in a morning’s mist”. Oh Lord I wanted that. I wanted to smell like a summer’s garden (especially in the dead of winter) and I almost found myself placing this product on my “wish list”. I wanted to smell like anything other than what I smell like (which is actually quite nice). What stopped me, fortunately, was the price tag ($150.00 for an ounce of “summer’s garden”) and the ingredients weren’t listed (against the law). What “stops me in my tracks” more than price tags, is manipulative ingredients (or lack of.) When this is present I know that “someone is hiding something” and that “something” is not good for me. So why do I want to place it on my “wish list”? Because quite simply, manipulative advertising is ingrained in women’s DNA and it will take conscious effort to eliminate this “seduction” from our DNA. So how do we do this? I’ll offer a few suggestions, as well as personal experiences, but I trust that you’ll find your own way back to your inherent beauty …
1.) It was Easter Sunday, in Reverend White’s church, that I knew I was fine. We wore our best hats, dresses, earrings - you name it, we had it on. Reverend White came to the pulpit and before he began preaching – he stopped a moment – stared out over his congregation and said, “You all look like a Spring Garden”. Every woman (whether we were 30 or 80) smiled (a bit shyly at first,) but then our smiles widened, fans began waving, backs straightened - we claimed our beauty. We were all shapes and sizes, and without question, we were beautiful. Our inherent beauty was acknowledged, we were seen, and we were appreciated. By a simple act of kindness “a spring garden bloomed”. (And “that garden” wasn’t in a bottle carrying a hefty price tag - that Sunday morning’s “Spring Garden” was priceless.)
Lesson: Tell yourself that you’re pretty, every day, because of who you are. Tell someone else as well. (Don’t forget our men when giving compliments). I often see elder gentlemen dressed well and I always compliment them on “how handsome you look”. In return I receive a most beautiful smile, a “tip of a hat,” or a door held open. Tender mercies. We all need to be seen, and appreciated.
2.) Be mindful of the “role models” that your daughter chooses or aspires to be like. Watch the message that is being presented to her in her formative years. When my daughter was in her pre-teen years I was appalled at the blatant sexuality and provocative dressing featured in “marketing campaigns”. Although I didn’t want my daughter to be “a prude,” I didn’t want her thinking that she had to debase herself to be “acceptable”. In choosing to teach her “sensuality” (vs.) “sexuality,” I brought home fine art work depicting nudes (and the true beauty) of the Female body. I then presented her an exploitive advertisement and asked her, “Do you see the difference”? She did.
Lesson: Just because “everyone is doing it / wearing it” doesn’t make it alright. If you allow a child to aspire to be anything other than what they inherently are, they won’t develop character. They will grow to become a person “who merely follows the crowd” – no matter what the crowd is doing. The following quote (from a volunteer program working with young adults,) states this point beautifully.)
“If you don’t have integrity, if you don’t have depth
If you can’t communicate from an authentic space
Of your own experiences
Who will you influence and what will you lead?”
To understand a child’s (or anyone’s) inherent beauty and authentic character takes thoughtful observation and engagement. In other words, we have to share meaningful time with that person. If a child sits before a television, video game, computer screen, or would rather “text message” than engage in conversation – that child is being programmed, as well as developing an addictive personality. (There are numerous studies that have been conducted on this, one has to merely “Google search” and the results will astound you.) We have also been informed on the “far-reaching consequences” of our consumption, yet we continue to be a consumer driven culture, buying anything / becoming anything “the media” wants to sell. As a result, we are losing our diversity, authenticity and our inherent beauty.
Each and every one of us has a unique gift to bring into the world. This gift, our uniqueness, is our blessing and our birthright - no one else has it but you. I invite you to share your blessing with the world. We need you and await you with open arms …