Monday, August 1, 2011

I confess: I hate false [eyelash] advertising

In the world of makeup, beauty (on the surface) trumps reality. Makeup's number one mission is to decorate. Why be plain? With makeup we can accentuate the best in ourselves and cover up the worst. Like fashion and hair, it's an accessory – an accent – to our image. It allows us to look different with different moods and events, too. Who wants to look exactly the same all the time? That's all fine as long as there is some kind of integrity to the image we make of ourselves. Unfortunately, there is a point when makeup crosses over from being decoration to being disguise. Why don't we see beauty in our natural selves? Because of advertising.

Yes, advertising – that insidious, brainwashing, sales pitchy, repetitive, starburstish, spammy, manipulative, interrupt-your-entertainment, get-in-front-of-you-hundreds-of-times-a-day industry that I am in. Of course, it doesn't have to be that bad. There is a manipulative and brainwashing power behind advertising and design strategy, but if used for good, well, it's all good. That's why it's so important to self-regulate. Advertisers have big a responsibility to be honest.

My latest pet peeve is mascara ads. What the hell are they thinking? What the hell are the consumers thinking if they believe a little bottle of mascara is going to give them eyelashes like this? How are we supposed to choose mascara based on that misinformation?
Dishonest advertising is more than just a con to get your money… it can be damaging to the health, wealth and happiness of society. When people begin to identify more with the ads they see than they do their own reality, self esteem plummets and their wallets empty out. When people begin to want what they see in ads more than what they have in real life, their life becomes one big failure in search of the unattainable.

Three cheers to the U.K. for cracking down on L'Oreal and Maybelline for running these misleadingly-airbrushed ads of Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington (read more here).  It's a giant slippery slope that starts with something simple like covering a blemish. Who doesn't want to smooth out their skin a bit? Heck, if I could Photoshop myself every morning, I would!

The answer lies not so much in refraining from using makeup as it does in creating only honest advertising. Decorate but don't lie. Emphasize but don't lie. Communicate the strengths and leave out the weaknesses, but don't lie. I'm all about honest propaganda for a good cause!

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