I don’t watch much TV, but I can recall a particular instance that left me feeling like chucking the television remote out the window.
I had just popped my popcorn and stationed myself on the sofa cushion when my attention was immediately directed to a scantily clad Katharine Webb seductively chomping on a Carl’s Jr. Buffalo Burger.
Because nothing screams sexy quite like a hamburger smothered in grease and who knows what else. And aside from apparently trying to confuse consumers as to whether they should want to eat or have sex with their food, Carl’s Jr.'s advertisements and others like it have a not-so-good aftertaste.
At the time, I allowed myself for a moment to have thoughts such as “Wow, she’s gorgeous” and “Gee, I wish I looked like that.” So after a few minutes of wallowing in self-pity over Katharine Webb’s good fortune in the gene pool, I began to feel both angry and ridiculous.
The advertisement was at fault here, not me. It used a quick, thoughtless and shallow way of getting my attention – an attractive woman whose physicality is deemed enough of an endorsement. What kills me is she didn’t even say anything – her only contribution to the commercial was essentially French kissing a hamburger. And thus we’re led to believe her value is in her appearance.
People are so critical of their physical appearances and those of others, and I can’t help but think it’s in large part because of advertisements like the one I just described. I can’t even watch television for 30 seconds without being made to feel I’m eating my hamburger the wrong way, or I shouldn’t be eating it at all.
This toxic advertising scheme isn’t just a male or just a female issue, either – it’s a consumer issue. We are constantly being told what’s attractive and what’s not, and what’s even more bothersome is the extent of the importance we attach to it. We invest an absurd amount of energy comparing ourselves to others, wishing we were thinner, more muscular, taller, shorter — anyone but ourselves.
So I’d like to propose a challenge for all of us: Spend more time uplifting those around us and less time obsessing over the numbers we see on the scale. Spend more time acknowledging our strong personal qualities, and less time picking apart our reflections in the mirror.
Let’s compliment the skills and accomplishments of others more than their physical appearances. With that, I’m convinced we’d put a sizable dent in this world’s bucket of problems.
Consuming media shouldn’t be a passive process. We have a responsibility to be critical of it and demand change when it fails us.
I’m tired of tuning in only to find that a new brand has decided to do something stupid, like use Photoshop to cut out the groin area on a swimsuit model to give her a “thigh gap” (ahem, Target). There is a more creative and much less poisonous way of selling a product.