In the previous posts Critiquing “Feminist” Marketing (Part 1) and Critiquing “Feminist” Marketing (Part 2), we discussed changes in and repercussions of mass media’s co-opt of the “feminist” message, and we examined the overt versus subliminal concepts inherent in each. Now we move into the realm of why these subliminal messages find fertile ground within our minds.
Our eyes are our windows to the world. They’re what helps our unconscious determine what is real and what is not. They show us our tribe, connect us to the people we love, respect, and hate, and they help us find our place within that social order. Now that we’ve moved beyond 100-person villages — Who is our tribe, and how do we know them?
We now have virtual tribes composed of real, physical humans and the virtual people that mass media brings within our personal sphere. We see the same newscasters every morning and every night, we see and hear the same television and radio hosts over and over, and we are bombarded by model hawkers constantly. At a certain point, our brains begin to subliminally incorporate these people into our tribe.
One hundred years ago, when being born, living, and dying within a 25-mile radius was common . . . We might encounter that 1-in-200 impossibly-beautiful person once a generation. Now we all live in virtual tribes composed of impossibly-beautiful and ultimately successful people, and each of us is at the bottom of our tribal food chain. (Interested in this concept? Start with neotribalism.)
What happens when our eyes feed this data into our subconscious, when our brains are trying to sort out our place in our false tribe, and our brains finds us lacking?
The Dove “Onslaught” ad answers this question:
Everyone wants to be attractive, and everyone wants to look at attractive people. The problem with that is that what we now consider attractive is skewed so far that towards less than 1% ideal that now “average” is “ugly” and “stunning” is now the mediocre norm. We judge ourselves, and each other, against impossible yardsticks and then treat ourselves and each other like garbage because of failure to measure up. Of course, the beauty industry capitalizes on this situation and only succeeds in making the situation worse.
All we can do is make a concerted, conscious effort to break away. We need to reclaim our actual tribes of family, friends, and co-workers, give the beauty industry a collective middle finger, and try to find comfort within our own skin.
We can start by stand proudly and saying loudly: I will not participate.