Culture of Anxiety

The more I look at advertising for beauty products, skin products, make-up, etc., I find it’s all about:

Do you have _____? (Insert problem here, whether actual or imaginary)

Well, here is the solution: __________ (Insert “solution” here)

Really, guys?

A majority of the advertising that I see for women and beauty products (and also for men, too!) ¬†focuses on capitalizing on our fear that we aren’t enough: Our eyes aren’t big enough, our lips aren’t soft enough, our skin isn’t flawless enough, etc.- despite the fact that Perfection is impossible, these advertisements make it possible to have Perfection, but only with this equation:

Your Money + This Product

Perhaps I am being overly simplistic, and I am certainly not claiming that ALL advertising plays upon fear, or even that 100% of advertising for beauty products does this, but one must admit that A LOT of advertising plays upon the fear of lacking. That without the product advertised, you won’t get kissed by that gorgeous guy, or your friends won’t admire you, or you might even miss the chance to find your next lover – a few scenarios that have been shown in the media, among others.

Below is essentially a few forms of advertising:

Naturally, it’s been effective for almost a century. Listerine is a GREAT example: It actually had advertisements that suggested that mouth wash would help a woman’s chances of catching a mate because she’ll have fresh breath, and that without it she might be putting herself at risk for BEING ALONE FOREVER!!! (The ad shown is from 1923)

Seriously, though, this form of advertising is effective for making money, but what harm does it do to the psyche and self esteem of people? It would be nice to say that many Americans are media literate enough to realize when they are being tricked into feeling that they aren’t good enough, and that with “x” they could be, but that simply isn’t the case- the fact that these advertisements continue proves this.

My realization is not original, nor is it really anything shocking. I think we all know this. It just gets tiring to be told through multiple mediums that I am not enough, and this exhaustion is surely felt by others.