We live in a world that constantly tells us that we’re not enough. Everywhere we look, there are messages reminding us that we’re not perfect as we are.
No wonder so many people are insecure. No wonder we never feel enough in whatever we do. It’s so obvious; happy customers who are content with what they already have doesn’t make any profit.
Start noticing the marketing and advertising around us. Here’s a typical example of an advert: It shows a man feeling lonely and depressed, but when he suddenly sprays a bit of perfume, he meets the woman of his dreams five seconds later. Or how about the plot line where a woman with messy hair sits depressed in her room, but then buys a particular shampoo and achieves unrealistically shiny and CGI-smooth hair, rendering her to smile and jump around, having been finally noticed by the male gaze.
It makes the acquisition of happiness look so easy, and it’s exactly why we’ve got to start viewing all sorts of advertising in its most simplistic form and questioning the messages behind it.
All of this comes with a big dollop of hypocrisy and irony as well. White people are convinced that their colour is too pasty and they must therefore invest in tanning lotions and salons to achieve the right kind of Brazilian shade, while naturally dark skinned people are continuously being sold the Caucasian dream through skin whitening creams. Whatever you’ve been naturally born with, it’s just not right.
It’s not profitable to have consumers that enjoy ageing gracefully. How can you sell anti-wrinkle creams and botox injections to a client that doesn’t have an issue with their crow feet? We live in a society that’s designed to make us feel bad about ourselves, so that we’ll have enough motivation to buy the solutions to make us feel better. They want us to think that buying a fancy car will increase our worth… and the sad thing is that a lot of people actually believe it. However, the worst part of it is that even more people can’t even afford it, and end up taking a lifetime loan to sustain this, in the hope of feeling better about themselves, and increasing their self-worth.
But guess what? It doesn’t… Nothing can increase our self-worth except ourselves, as we are.
They want us to worry and feel scared about everything around us so that we can keep buying into different kinds of insurances and other securities, just in case something goes wrong. Of course they’re going to photoshop models with unrealistic expectations and measurements. How else are we going to feel inadequate with our bodies and consume diet pills, pay for liposuctions, buy illusion dresses that make us seem thinner, buy gym memberships… the list goes on.
Speaking from my personal opinion and experience, I observe how the happier I feel about myself when I consume less. An example comes to my mind from a few years ago, when I was unhappy with my job. I knew I was unhappy, but I felt powerless – and instead of realising I had the power to change it, I consumed to feel better. I bought new dresses to wear for work, reasoning with the mentality that “at least I’ll have something to look forward to – wearing something new.” I numbed my feelings away with something else. It makes me wonder how many people consume simply because they’re either unhappy with their current situation, or because they don’t feel good enough as they are.
Imagine how many companies would go bankrupt if everyone started to feel happy as they are, if we realised we don’t really need make up to look better, if we realised that our natural hair looks good just as it is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that wearing make up or getting your hair done or buying something that you like is a betrayal to your self. All I’m saying is that most of us buy for the wrong reasons; we lack balance. We over-consume to temporarily fix things instead of realising we have the power to fix them ourselves by either changing a situation, or accepting ourselves as we are.
Looking at all of this sometimes leaves me struggling to understand how a world full of humans can be so dehumanised. Tragically, we live in a world where being content with who we are is considered to be something rebellious. As Matt Haig puts it perfectly, “to be calm in your messy human self becomes a kind of revolutionary act.”