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Beauty, Insecurity and Advertising.

By brain in a jar in Culture
Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 01:41:37 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

For the majority of us who live in towns and cities, it is rare for a day to pass without being exposed to advertising. Firms have reduced production costs, outsourced and downsized in order to free up funds for ever increasing advertising budgets. Billions of dollars are poured each year into forming our opinions, promoting specific images and ideals and yet it is rare that anyone asks the question.

What are the effects of advertising upon us?

It is a huge question, the sheer scale and diversity of the advertising industry defies quick description, so I will stick to one area: Beauty, Image and its relation to self-esteem.


We have every reason to believe that advertising is highly effective at getting its message across. The world's most successful businesses do not spend huge amounts of money without expecting and getting results. However, it is also likely that the results they produced are mixed. The days of straight forward ads, saying "buy product X it tastes good" are long gone. The long experience of consumers with advertising has rendered more straightforward approaches to advertising largely ineffective. Today's advertising trades in lifestyles, images, ideas every brand has a set of images ideas and values it wishes us to associate with it. The advertising industry is paid to form these associations in our minds.

When you talk to people about advertising, few people doubt that it is effective, and that business uses advertising because it works. However there are a great many people who refuse to believe that advertising works on them. It seems that there is a stigma associated with being influenced by advertising. It is seen as an admission of mental weakness, and any suggestion that advertising influences our thoughts and behaviour signficantly is patronising. This is especially true of people who think of themselves as intelligent and educated. For them the idea of a group of people being able to sit down in an office somewhere and influence they way they think,is disturbing, perhaps rightly so. But at this point, too many people find it easier to deny the effectiveness of advertising than to take time to consider its effects.

Because of the need to form positive associations with the product the advertising industry has always tended toward using the most beautiful people they can find to promote their products. This is especially the case for the "health and beauty" and fashion industries. This is an entirely natural choice; clothes look better when hung on a shapely body, and if you want to sell your range of cosmetics it helps if you apply them to a face that was already beautiful in the first place. It could even be argued that by filling our TV screens and our shopping streets with images of beauty, that the advertisers are providing a public service. Its fair to say that there aren't many people who can honestly say that they don't derive pleasure from looking at images of attractive members of the opposite sex. This is true even for those people who would never consider buying such pictures for their own consumption.

The old saying goes that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." However this isn't strictly true. If it were we would seldom be able to agree on who is good looking and who isn't, but the fact is that most of the time we do. If you take a group of people a set of photos of members of the opposite sex and ask them to take turns putting them into order of attractiveness, the results will show a good deal of consistency between individuals. There will be differences, but the broad pattern will be the same. Further anecdotal evidence that we generally agree on human attractiveness is that the images chosen for magazines are generally ones which most people do find attractive. This all makes sense, because beauty in humans is a less subjective concept than for example beauty in Art. When we look at someone of the opposite sex, we are essentially judging whether they would be a good mate. We are looking for features which indicate health eg. Good skin, symmetry or which indicate reproductive fitness e.g. breast size and shape, or the shape of a woman's hips.

Even when we look at someone of our own sex and judge their attractiveness, we do so based on the criteria which a member of the opposite sex would use. For example, ask a woman whether she thinks another woman is attractive; her decision will be based on her knowledge of what men find attractive in a woman, rather than some more abstract measure of beauty. That said, human mate preference is a complex subject. There are a huge number of fit, healthy and reproductively successful men and women out there who look nothing like models. The link between looks and fitness is certainly there, but it is not an entirely direct link. Perhaps our tendency to make similar judgements about attractiveness is also partly a product of the homogenous images we are exposed to. Certainly other societies often have very different ideas of what makes a person physically attractive. If advertising is tending to homogenize our views on who is attractive it is a real problem, because when we all want to mate with the same 1% of the population a lot of people will be sorely dissapointed.

What does all this matter? It matters because all of us have some idea of how attractive we are, and this is based on looking at ourselves, and looking at those around us and comparing. Our perception of how attractive we are is entirely relative. The same person could feel either attractive or unattractive depending on the attractiveness of those around them. As Robert Heinlein once commented:

"I never met a woman who didn't know exactly how attractive she was."
For reasons we will soon see, this is probably an overstatement of the fact, but it is certainly fair to say that men and women are constantly looking around, and comparing their appearance with other people of the same sex. I believe that this is probably something we have evolved to do, and has a strong influence on our behaviour and self image.

The problem now lies with the fact that when we look around us we see not just people, but also the images presented to us by the ad industry. These images have always been, images of a select few, those who have had the good fortune to be born beautiful and who also spend a huge amount of time and effort on the looks that are their livelihood. Also, since for the model appearance is their livelihood, it makes sense for them to have various "enhancements". Among female models breast implants are very common, they provide the combination of extremely low body fat, and full breasts that the industry demands. For the male models, steroids and diuretics are the norm, along with the endless sun bed hours that are demanded of both sexes. The process does not stop here. The images of this beautiful minority are not shown to us directly. It is now the rule rather than the exception that images are "airbrushed" that is to say edited on a computer before being displayed. Imperfections of skin are airbrushed away, the legs of female models are often made longer, to make the already tall thin models taller and thinner still.

So where is the harm?

If we were talking about abstract art, there would be no harm. The industry has simply taken people who are already beautiful and made them more so, brought them closer to some unattainable ideal. The problem is that these are pictures of people, and whatever we do we cannot help but compare ourselves to them. It is as if we have been transported to a land filled with beautiful people, and we are suddenly the ugly duckling here. We are rational animals, we know in our minds that these are just images, we know that they aren't real in the fullest sense: But the part of our mind that does the comparison, does it just the same. So all too often we meet people who are needlessly worried about their shape and looks, and eating disorders and steroid abuse (the male equivalent) are on the rise. Although all the industry wanted to do, was to sell us the product, the end effect has been to undermine our self-esteem. Increasingly both men and women are likely to find themselves looking in the mirror and not liking what we see. Worse than that, what effect does this have on human relationships when all the people that you meet during the day, our husbands our wives and our lovers are all remorselessly compared to billboard perfection.

There was a time when I believed that all this was a conspiracy, with the "beauty" industry deliberately undermining our self-esteem, making us all feel ugly to sell us products to hide our faces behind. But this doesn't ring true. No single company has enough power to carry out such a piece of social engineering. Although the damage to the self-esteem of so many people has occurred, it was never part of the plan, merely a useful side effect. It is unfair to say that the "beauty" and advertising industries deliberately made us insecure, however they have certainly benefited from the process. Women and increasingly men too have spent large sums of money in pursuit of beauty, trying to reclaim their lost self-worth and never was a pursuit more in vain. Whatever we do we will never be able to compare to the standards of billboard beauty and the pursuit of shallow surface appearance is itself largely fruitless. Physical beauty is largely an accident of birth, and fades quickly with age. Because beauty is largely an accident, it is not an achievement, nor a goal to be worked towards. Cruelest of all for those who take physical beauty as their goal, is its fleeting nature, it is self-destructive to get hung up on the idea of physical beauty because, regardless of what we do, it will fade with age.

The effect of the advertising industry on our self-image has been observed for some time, but it has traditionally been the battle ground of feminist groups. For example a feminist group decided that the computer extended legs of the models in Sloggi's latest "string-time" set of commercials were a bit too unreal for them, and worthy of a little parody. The original advert can be seen here . The adbust can be seen here. However the importance of this issue will only grow as advertising itself continues to grow and insinuate itself into every part of our daily lives. This is an issue that concerns every town and city dweller and has repercussions which are wider still.

For those who want to know more, reading No Logo is a good place to start. The book takes the lid off of the modern brand based economy. If you have ever wondered why you can buy five different brands of beer and they all taste of nothing, why it keeps getting harder to find a good job and what you can do about it, this is a good place to start. Marshall Mcluhan also deserves honorable mention for his analysis of advertising.

Lastly, any time you feel insecure, look at the other people around you. If we have to compare ourselves to something, it should at least be to other human beings, and not to the unreal world of adverts.

I think that the advertising industry, should be better regulated, to improve the signal to noise ratio of modern life. Advertising like the media has the power to influence public opinion, and this brings with it some level of responsibility. Just as most countries have rules governing media ownership, to ensure that the press remains free and impartial; advertising must also be subject to some degree of control. However, there will always be issues like those in this article which are probably too complex to legislate on, and whose solutions lie elsewhere.

This might sound terribly new age but to solve these kinds of problems the changes have to be within ourselves. As long as we base our feelings of self-worth on our appearance, it will always be a source of insecurity for those who aren't born beautiful. The way out of this insecurity lies not in buying products, but in finding value in other things. Value your achievements, value the way you treat other people, instead of trying to be beautiful, try to create beauty.

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Poll
Are you influenced by advertising.
o Yes 43%
o No 19%
o Maybe 37%

Votes: 86
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o here
o here
o No Logo
o Marshall Mcluhan
o Also by brain in a jar


Display: Sort:
Beauty, Insecurity and Advertising. | 140 comments (97 topical, 43 editorial, 0 hidden)
Estimating attractiveness (4.00 / 2) (#3)
by megid on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 08:34:54 AM EST

Well for my girlfriend and me, estimating attractiveness is certainly a lot different. We just have different focus. What strikes me most is that I seem to value facial values more, while she pays more attention to body features. Originally, that should be the opposite, maybe... ;-)

Anyway, its true when you spend more time with ads than with people, ads can undermine your self image. I dont own a TV so that isnt a major problem, but when I sometimes feel unlucky I just sit myself in a public bus, seeing all these frat faces, and marvel at how good my life is.

Kinda mean, but it works wonders.

--
"think first, write second, speak third."

-1 No one gives a fuck (2.28 / 7) (#5)
by rmwise on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 08:36:36 AM EST

Don't pay attention to ads. Problem solved.

---
SAVE RUSSIAN JEWS COLLECT VALUABLE PRIZES!


Oh man... read the "unconscious" part (4.00 / 1) (#7)
by megid on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 08:44:01 AM EST

Yeah, just willfully and perfectly ignore ads. Like the machine you are. Sure. Very realistic.

*bitch* *bitch* :)))

No offense meant. Read more carefully, if I may suggest.

--
"think first, write second, speak third."
[ Parent ]

yeah, i can exercise self control (3.66 / 3) (#11)
by rmwise on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 09:31:26 AM EST

the only ads i can't seem to shake are the unpaid for ones on this site, like that one for mechwarrior.

---
SAVE RUSSIAN JEWS COLLECT VALUABLE PRIZES!


[ Parent ]
If you don't pay attention to ads (4.00 / 3) (#9)
by bob6 on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 09:05:30 AM EST

then ads have already affected you. The problem lies there, ads are imposed to us.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
Advertising to the subconcious (none / 0) (#50)
by swr on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 10:04:02 PM EST

I always tune out that 'you are thirsty' message overlayed on the 6298th frame of the movie. Can't affect you if you just ignore it, right?



[ Parent ]
Text ads and "buy X it tastes good" (3.50 / 2) (#6)
by megid on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 08:42:10 AM EST

... I just wondered: While I am instincively ignoring any bright flashing elements on my browser window (= all ads), I mostly read text ads.

Could this also work for slick normal ads? If I recall, the print ads that I can remember are simple, black on white font saying "Your advertisement could be here" while I can recall virtually none, lets say, coke or marlboro ad.

And anyway, I WANT to see beauty in ads! Its like envisioning perfect software -- we all know it doesnt exists, yet it is an ideal worth having.

The only problem is ppl that cannot accept that they are maybe good but cannot be the best. Once one has understood that, there is no problem with yourself anymore.

--
"think first, write second, speak third."

hm (4.50 / 2) (#18)
by EMHMark3 on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 12:09:35 PM EST

Companies such as coke and marlboro don't advertise because they have something to say, they advertise so that when you're in the store you remember their products and are therefore more inclinded to pick them instead of a competitor.

T H E   M A C H I N E   S T O P S
[ Parent ]

Who the hell pays attention to adverts? (4.25 / 8) (#8)
by Phillip Asheo on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 09:01:19 AM EST

"Subconsciously" or not? What is your solution here, to erect some sort of government agency that'll scan the media checking out the attractiveness of actresses and models used and fine companies that use people who are too attractive? Come on, that's fascist.

Besides, you should at least recognise that advertisements are a tiny, tiny part of the "problem". The problem is clearly the entire fact of having a connected, modern society, where especially good looking people tend to rise to the top and be broadcasted everywhere, regardless of media - the internet, newspapers, films, television, email, magazines, etc etc. This happens because - fact of human nature - people tend to like and enjoy good looking people. You can only solve this by changing human nature - always part of the "socialist" nologo platform that, though. If you connect people around the world into a huge big society where images of people are easily propagated, then what you describe is going to happen nomatter what. The only way you can stop this is to turn the clock back till we are all imprisoned in tiny agrarian communities again, and who the fuck wants that primitive shit except anarcho-socialist types?

Besides, I think it is fair to say that people are much smarter and keep a sense of perspective much better than you give them credit for. I mean, really, honestly, I have never come across an attractive girl who models herself on the girls in tampax advertisements - have you? Of course not. Your theory requires you to be utterly patronising towards some segment of society and type of person who only exists in your head and the heads of others like you. In real life, it is totally irrelevant.

--
"Never say what you can grunt. Never grunt what you can wink. Never wink what you can nod, never nod what you can shrug, and don't shrug when it ain't necessary"
-Earl Long

Could you please explain (3.50 / 2) (#81)
by Viliam Bur on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:46:14 AM EST

to us ("fascist", "socialist", "anarcho-socialist types") your theory on why does such a thing as advertising exist?

Though I do not like the extreme opinions on how ads totally manipulate the poor helpless us; I also like the opposite extreme opinions that ads have close to zero influence. I mean - there are ads, then there are a lot of people following them, there are also some who do not - but if I were a producer, I certainly would use some of the power of advertising.

[ Parent ]

Not just ads (4.40 / 5) (#13)
by scanman on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 10:27:37 AM EST

As the world becomes more populous and interconnected, the standard of not just beauty, but everything, goes up, and general self-esteem goes down. More people in general means more people born with freakishly good looks, talent, wealth, or whatever. More connectivity means everyone always knows how hopelessly far they are from the top. Also, each new 'best' has to defeat the former best by being even better; thus it soon becomes impossible to even compete without cheating, whether with computer 'enhancement', drugs, or dishonest accounting practices.

"[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
"scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
"I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

Addendum (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by scanman on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 10:47:59 AM EST

Sorry to reply to my own comment, but I forgot something.

I didn't mean to imply that world population and technology are inherently bad. The problem is really a consequence of the Western value system, in which 'being the best' is the most important value. This system intrinsically implies that the majority of people are 'not the best' and therefore worthless.

In some more primitive cultures, it is simply taken for granted that some people are more adept than others, and that fact has no particular significance. Although people in these cultures often feel much better about themselves, they can't compete materially with insecure Westerners, who are willing to sacrifice self-esteem for the sake of progress.

"[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
"scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
"I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

[ Parent ]

YES (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by auraslip on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 08:30:12 PM EST

exactly. The larger and more connected a society is, the more intelligent you or beutiful you have to be to rise to the top.
That's why sub_groups are so common in highshools(punks, goths, stoners, ravers, metals, geeks). Because they can't find their place in the "main stream" (jocky).

Just a small thought.
___-____
[ Parent ]

the main influence (3.50 / 4) (#15)
by the sixth replicant on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 11:27:27 AM EST

(to answer the original question) of advertising is that we expect to be lied to continuously in our daily routine of life. i'm sure our ancestors were lied to too, but not at this scale. let's face it advertising is at least 90% lying (buy this beer you'll be happy, buy this food it will make you slim). I think, in the long and short term, this is not a good thing at alleven if we say to ourselves "well it just a part of our lifes, what harm can it do?"

ciao

Defence against the marketplace (4.57 / 7) (#17)
by IHCOYC on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 11:59:51 AM EST

We have systematically weakened all of our defences against the marketplace, to the extent that the forces of religion and other forms of voluntary social organisation are all but helpless against them, and now even government is forfeiting its sovereignty to make rules and have them obeyed.

Seventy-five years ago, Sabbath observance was a contentious political issue kept alive by people we'd now call "activists." Allowing businesses to operate on Sundays was politically controversial and thought immoral by some; it distracted believers from holy meditation. Thirty years ago, the very notion seemed an archaic attempt at mainstream Christian supremacy. "What about Jews or Muslims or others who don't observe a Sunday sabbath?" we'd ask. Now, given the too many retail stores that are open 24/7, keeping their employees on-call anytime, it seems like a damned good idea.

Of course, it would be impossible to revive the old "blue laws," not because the U.S.A. is short of evangelical Christians, but that Christianity has been coopted by the almighty dollar. An army of lobbyists from Wal-Mart and other establishments that talk up their allegiance to "family values" out of one side of their mouths would descend upon any legislature that dared revive the idea.

Workers with real jobs in manufacturing industries would not support it --- not because they wouldn't like a day a week when the plant was closed, but because they fear that government lacks the ability to make it stick. They live in fear that the manufacturing plant will ship its operations overseas and they'll be stuck with Wal-Mart jobs.

Reclaiming the vitality of political, cultural, and religious forces that undercut the authority of the almighty marketplace strikes me as the most important job for the twenty-first century. Framed in the right way, it's something both political liberals and religious conservatives ought to be able to find common ground on.
 --
Quod sequitur, sicut serica lucis albissima tingere rogant;
Quod sequitur, totum devorabit.

Finding common ground (4.50 / 2) (#27)
by kphrak on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 03:35:26 PM EST

Of course, it would be impossible to revive the old "blue laws," not because the U.S.A. is short of evangelical Christians, but that Christianity has been coopted by the almighty dollar.

Not only the mighty dollar is at stake. A liberal lobbyist thinking ahead might say to himself, "Reviving the blue laws would result in forcing religious holidays on Americans, violating separation of Church and State...but worse, it could set a precedent for other religious decisions, such as banning abortion, homosexuality, etc." Whether or not that would be considered by religious conservatives, I think liberals would find themselves firmly on the side of corporate lobbyists if a decision like that came up. That said, being conservative I would be against that decision as well; it would be very hard to enforce and would go against the system of government as we currently conceive it (75 years ago, it would have fit with other decisions a little bit better and would have made more sense). The market of the individual needs to decide.

Workers with real jobs in manufacturing industries would not support it --- not because they wouldn't like a day a week when the plant was closed, but because they fear that government lacks the ability to make it stick.

I think they might already have Sundays off -- at least in Portland. I bike through industrial areas in Portland on some Sundays because there's no traffic and smoke, smells, etc are almost nonexistent. The places are dead except for the occasional security guard/vehicle. But I wouldn't worry so much about manufacturing workers; between them and the transportation industry, they boast some of the most powerful unions in the country. The people who are most at risk are "sales associates", i.e. the guy who's ringing you up at Walmart or the girl serving you coffee in 7:00 at World Cup on a Sunday night. You know, the people who got hired as a "part time worker", working 9-hour shifts every day (and staying that way unless they complain; preceding sentence from experience!).

Political pressure would have worked a hundred years ago, but liberal/conservative social opinions are too divided (although both can help influence public opinion) and corporations too strong to do something like that. What it comes down to is the individual; you and me, in other words. People need to make a habit of buying that turkey the day before Thanksgiving or Easter; of waiting till after Christmas to get their film processed; of making their own coffee if they get the caffeine urge on a Sunday. If a company sees that staying open for business on a day yields nothing but extra costs, the relentless effort to stay open as often as possible will go away eventually.


Describe yourself in your sig!
American computer programmer, living in Portland, OR.


[ Parent ]
hahah, ads... (4.50 / 2) (#19)
by pb on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 12:34:15 PM EST

I saw an ad yesterday that I thought was hilarious. It had a bunch of female models dancing around some male models, in a barbershop-like setting, with the female narrator constantly repeating "Maxim: the only hair color good enough to be called Maxim!" I guess I should mention that Carmen Electra was in there too.

Now, tell me, guys, does this work? I mean, I wouldn't be buying "Hair Color For Men" in the first place, so I suppose I'm way out of their target audience. But even if I were, why would this convince me? Would I think that this new hair color would magically lure supermodels to my side, or would I just remember it better because of the chicks? And is the market for this even predominately heterosexual in the first place?

Well, one thing's for sure: I do appreciate a good commercial, or even a silly one. Even if it doesn't influence my buying habits much or at all, I still remember the good commercials--even if I don't remember what they were for.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall

By definition... (4.20 / 5) (#21)
by neuroticia on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 01:52:28 PM EST

Since the intent of a commercial is to sell or to brand, a "good commercial" is one that you remember--no matter how atrocious.

"good commercials", where you don't remember what they're for, are entertaining or beautiful or amusing... But they're not "good commercials", because you walk away saying "Wow. cool... What was that for?"

So. Technically. Since you remember the Maxim commercial, it was a good commercial. Even if you don't plan on buying it now, you're remembering the brand, and if you're in the market to buy- you'll buy. If someone asks you about a product in that genre, you'll remember "Maxim". It falls under the category of "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink" --if someone's not in the market to buy something, you really can't make them buy it without expending a LOT of effort. So you really just want to make an impression so that if the person is in the market in the future, or if the person knows people who are in the market, they'll think of your product.

It's called Branding. Making a lasting impression. And it's important because the more something's branded, the better chances that someone will try the product, and even if it's only half-way decent, they will develop brand loyalty and it will be harder for other products to win them over.

Uh-oh, spaghetti-o's... Bet you can't eat just one... So pure it floats. The Geico-gecko.. You know. That stuff that drives us nuts, weasles into our brains, and won't let go even years later. Branding. Not just the colourful eyecandy and bad jokes/cliches/triteness that dominates the advertisting market today. Sure, some of it may be more entertaining- but it doesn't serve the purpose.

-Sara

[ Parent ]
to an extent, but... (5.00 / 1) (#33)
by pb on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 06:38:13 PM EST

If a commercial annoys me, I won't recommend the product. In fact, depending on the extent to which it annoys me and others, I might actively tell people not to buy a given product solely because of that. Like, for example, an X-10 camera.

Other than that, yes, I know about branding. Good info, though; maybe you should have posted it top-level.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

An X-10 camera? (none / 0) (#34)
by laotic on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 07:02:54 PM EST

Where? What? I'm off to check it out! :)

No really, is that actually negative advertising at work?

Sig? Sigh.
[ Parent ]
X-10 camera ads (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by pb on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 10:06:14 PM EST

If you've never seen one, then congratulations. I haven't seen one in a while, but I'm sure that's only because I block pop-ups and many major ad servers. But yes, if I'm ever in the market for a small camera, I guarantee you it won't be one of theirs.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Ah, that :) (none / 0) (#91)
by laotic on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:27:48 PM EST

I actuall actively sought it out about a year ago, but my interest in having a camera in every room has since waned and anyway, anything with less than 1mpix is not a camera anyway :)

But no, I haven't been seeing any of their ads, I presumably don't frequent the overcrowded sites they're advertising at. Indeed, I'm very startled when I open a website which covers more than 50% of its area with adrubbish...

So, where do you come across such intrusive ads? (just to make sure I don't go there by chance)...

Sig? Sigh.
[ Parent ]
X-10 ads (none / 0) (#93)
by pb on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 06:05:27 PM EST

I couldn't even tell you; they really were ubiquitous. At the time, it was probably altavista, zd-net, your average major news/tech sites, that sort of thing. But now that I block pop-ups and many ad servers, I never see them.  :)
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Ahh... (none / 0) (#127)
by laotic on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 02:03:07 PM EST

...so since I avoid the major news and tech sites, and mostly favor K5, NewSci, Google, our local (read: national) papers and the occasional Google.group, I'm not much of a target group for those popups :)

Really, ABC News? Whoever can read that?

Just joking. I knew the answers. Millions :P

Sig? Sigh.
[ Parent ]
marketed towards the baby boomers [nt] (none / 0) (#44)
by fae on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 08:52:52 PM EST



-- fae: but an atom in the great mass of humanity
[ Parent ]
this is a great article (4.00 / 2) (#20)
by zzzeek on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 01:51:44 PM EST

i love this article, just for the issue it tackles alone.  and to all of you saying "ignore advertisements", you are sorrowfully wrong; not only is advertising way too prevalent to ignore, but the beauty standards portrayed in pure advertising are also 100% plastered within movies, books, magazines, tv shows, porn, and most of the women you see walking down the street trying to imitate them.  unless you live in a cave in north dakota..you are definitely overtaken by these socialized norms.  id love to get a clear picture of just how much of it is biological.

anyway, the story itself, you are putting it in a forum that is going to be quite hostile towards the concepts...especially when you mention the "F" word (that word being: feminist).  seems like you get better respect posting uber-obvious stories about internet protocols being useful (like wow who fucking knew!).  


Subject for my comment (none / 0) (#49)
by alevin on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 10:03:46 PM EST

unless you live in a cave in north dakota..you are definitely overtaken by these socialized norms.

I won't say I'm immune to the same forces of enculturation everyone else is, but rather I'm influenced by and/or a part of a largely different culture, or segments thereof than most Americans are. I'd definitely be open to seeing some debate on the merits of American culture in general vs. that of the Internet or k5, but TBT I don't come into contact with much of general American culture (or at least mainstream media or its influences) anymore; I've found a niche that has more in common with my viewpoints and lifestyle. I suspect there are many on this site for whom the same holds true.

I don't watch TV except for rare events of significance (NBA playoffs, draft, yeah I still like sports, but I play the sport I watch), the large majority of my reading is scientific and technical texts, and I see no more than a movie or two a year. When I go out, it's usually only for classes, to take a walk in wooded areas of a local park, to get bottled water at the deli, or to go other places where hot sexy women usually aren't. I do read the paper on my way to school, but unlike most I know it's an entertainment mechanism or something to give one an unfounded sense of awareness rather than believing it's serving its initial role as the informer of the populace. Any real information I want I get elsewhere, invariably online or at the library.

I say, fuck social norms for the sake of social norms. When you see an opportunity to do something that makes sense, and a social norm is the only thing that restricts that behavior, go right ahead and do it.
--
alevin
[ Parent ]

depth (5.00 / 2) (#28)
by idea poet on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 03:36:17 PM EST

Maybe it's because I've thought about this way too much, but there is absolutely no new revelation in your piece. I wasn't sure which part of this complex consumer culture issue you were addressing. You start off on a fairly basic line of thought, acknowledging that "advertising is all around." Well, duh. Then you swing left into fashion advertising.

You can hack off the top bit off your piece and start of with the statement you make about beauty - and how are advertising has impacted on our evaluation thereof. Then analyse that notion in depth.

On that, I agree that no single company can do the kind of conspiratorial social engineer you discarded, but a global consciousness in advertising certainly could. Ad agencies respond to trends and feed them back in neatly packaged units. So if certain colour sets move into fashion, products are designed around them and are then advertised to make them desirable. It's an evil cycle, but the agencies feed off the common mindset. It's not that they shape what we think of beauty, they only recycle what we think back to us.

Ask yourself these questions: (4.71 / 7) (#29)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 04:45:23 PM EST

How easy would it be to accurately predict the type of music I listen to based solely upon my personal fashion? And given my personal fashion and taste in music, how accurately could someone predict my political leanings? Do my political convictions really run any deeper than my sense of style?

No matter how you personally might have answered the above questions, consider just how common and predictable the correlation of fashion, music, and politics are--and this doubly true within high school and college student communities. Further, consider how common these correlations are among those whose fashion, musical tastes, and politics are of a decidedly non-commercial, or even anti-commercial, flavor.

Iconic or brand advertising seeks to situate itself within the social dynamic of collective identity; it doesn't create it. The phenomenon in question here runs much deeper than advertising.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


doubly? (5.00 / 2) (#41)
by spacejack on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 08:44:02 PM EST

Really, I think it's 90% true with the high school/college population. With anyone else, their musical taste is anyone's guess.

Otherwise, your last paragraph is a dead on assessment. Advertising is more like, hmm... an amplified feedback mechanism... or something.

[ Parent ]
I don't want ugly people on my TV (1.50 / 2) (#31)
by Keeteel on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 05:47:46 PM EST

It's already bad enough I have to deal with them everyday, the simple fact is ugly people are unattractive. When I'm watching TV, I do like looking at beautiful women dancing about just as when I am in real life, I don't look at some cracked-out-junkie who hasn't showered in 3 weeks, I check out the girl who's on her way to her top executive position, works out 5 times a week with a perfect body, has a great complexion, and was naturally gifted with great looks.

You know what I've also found, despite how often beautiful people are bashed on this community - I enjoy being around beautiful people more than I do unattractive people. They're more energetic, more positive on life, often more intelligent and successful. It's a simple fact of life, beautiful people are going to be offered better chances through out their lives, and from my perspective they tend to have both better personalities, looks, and minds than dull unattractive people.

Keep them coming, no one wants to see Nick Nolte cracked out selling hotdogs.

so much of beuty (4.00 / 1) (#38)
by auraslip on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 08:33:12 PM EST

is how you live

Some have the rhythm and grace that intelligence provides, and some have nice tits.

In almost all cases I'd go with the girl who can make her self hot rather then the girl born hot.
Unless she was born hot and is intelligent.
___-____
[ Parent ]

too obvious, work on your technique <nt> (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by Torka on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 04:07:48 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Have you ever SEEN any rich people? (4.50 / 4) (#66)
by gnovos on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 04:26:16 AM EST

It's a simple fact of life, beautiful people are going to be offered better chances through out their lives, and from my perspective they tend to have both better personalities, looks, and minds than dull unattractive people.

The fithiest of the filty rich are by no means the most attractive.  In fact the ONLY attractive rich are in Hollywood, and they are a tiny subset of the hollywood rich (those most visible, of course...  the directors and producers are as nasty as the rest of us).  And when you compare bank accounts from those hollywood folk to big business people, the stars are at the very bottom of the money totem pole.  The attractive are too busy preening themselves to become rich and powerful most of the time.  Instead, the corpulent, offensive, malodorous, gawky, and generally those more concerened with cutting a better deal than cutting thier hair are always more successful.

Have you seen a picture of Bill Gates?  Feel free to compare his picture with a picture of my next door neighbor Tommy.  Tommy is about 1000 times more handsome, strong and athletic.  He is also flat broke and jobless.

A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen
[ Parent ]

We can feel the pain of ugly people (4.00 / 2) (#32)
by United Fools on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 06:37:49 PM EST

Just like fools, ugly people are suppressed in our society.
Learn from us! Do not just accept the discrimination against you! Ugly people, rise up, unite and fight for your rights!
We are united, we are fools, and we are America!
OPPRESSED (none / 0) (#39)
by spacejack on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 08:35:48 PM EST

Oppressed! Not suppressed! I know, I know it's United Fools and all but... FUCK!

[ Parent ]
Not in this case. (5.00 / 2) (#65)
by gnovos on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 04:14:12 AM EST

Oppression implies "holding down" which connotates being on top of the oppressed...  Who wan't to be on top of the ugly?  I suppose if you're drunk enuff, of if face covering papaer bags are used, sure...  but "SUPpression" gives me an image of "SUPpository", and I can easily imagine doing the ugly from behind, provided there are no mirrors in the room.  Makes sense now?  No?  Well, now add in the United Fools factor to the equation and all will become clear.  :)

A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen
[ Parent ]
What are you selling? (5.00 / 1) (#36)
by laotic on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 07:10:52 PM EST

This piece appears to be finely written, but I used it to practice my fast-reading skills on. (you know - start of paragraph/end of paragraph). I slowed down on the links, only to find references to Amazon...

...

Advertising IS regulated. There must be Codes of Ethics in every country - you misadvertise, you are punished by peers. (in theory)

You ARE influenced by advertising. Sure. So shut it out. No TV - it's not worth it really. No crap magazines. Pop-up filtering.
Set your mind up - you don't need viagra? Then you'll just ignore all ads to that effect.
BE beautiful+strong+clever: sleep well, move to exhaustion, read and think.

I don't think it's bad to have a favorite brand of any product, even if that choice was influenced by advertising. Unless it was the first factor you used in your decision-making and didn't do more research/reference picking before. It's like - I'd always go for an IBM laptop instead of a Gateway, just for the cool image of it. But not for Apple, however cool it may pose. (just an example, ok?)

Sig? Sigh.
an intresting not (breast sizes: texas vs. cali) (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by auraslip on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 08:38:05 PM EST

It's true.
Girls in california have larger and more shapely breast. For awhile I was just like "wow nice rack", more often then I normally do.
Then I made the connection. HOLY SHIT THAT GIRL HATES HERSELF ENOUGH TO HAVE BAGS OF PLASTIC INSERTED INTO HER BODY>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
___-____
I Wish They All Could Be California Girls. (none / 0) (#56)
by MichaelCrawford on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:20:40 AM EST

That song has been popular on the radio for about 35 years.

That's a lot of stereotype to live up to.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

yeah but (4.00 / 1) (#98)
by livus on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 11:57:39 PM EST

isn't there also a connection between the girls hating themselves and people like you being more inclined to be "wow nice rack"?

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Beauty is still quite variant, actually. (4.00 / 2) (#42)
by la princesa on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 08:44:08 PM EST

People like to bring up those supposed studies of people coming up with a common standard of beauty, but those studies typically feature Westerners.  In the same way that optical illusions are not equally effective across cultures, beauty standards are quite variant overall across highly different cultures.  One is making the same mistake linguists did when they thought patterns in indo-european languages represented the way all humans in all cultures thought and spoke.  One can look even within large subcultures among the Western cultures and find extraordinary variances.  An example is the standards of beauty among internet users.  Their ideas of what's beautiful are often pretty divergent from 'mainstream' (itself not so large a group as anti-advertisement people like to claim) ideas of beautiful.  This article is a nice enough opinion, but its premises fail to consider the simple fact that humans think and feel along broader spectrums than current social science can accurately assess.  

___
<qpt> Disprove people? <qpt> What happens when you disprove them? Do they disappear in a flash of logic?
that "problem" is "fixed" (5.00 / 1) (#59)
by khallow on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 01:46:50 AM EST

Actually, I think the article is square on. We should vary wildly in our opinion of what beautiful is. However, advertisers use impossibly beautiful (ie, most of the population can never look that good) people in order to create an artificial arms race. Ie, it's not enough to look your best with respect to other men and women. Now, you have to compete with the TV models. It's easier from the advertisers' point of view. They only have to sell a limited look (which changes all the time, ie, a moving target) to the world.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Nobody has to compete with the tv models, (5.00 / 1) (#72)
by la princesa on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:34:08 AM EST

would be the point.  The average man does not consider that a useful beauty standard in daily life, so why bother worrying about looking that way?  There are plenty of other beauty standards one can achieve naturally that the majority of males will go for.  It is worth noting that the magazine standards are actually too 'perfect' for most people to consider worth dating in real life.  People are aware of photoshop and airbrushing, and they do know it's a carefully pasted together unreal image.  It's a strawman used by anti-advertising sorts, the idea that most are soooo obsessed with competing with the unreal images on tv.  People don't consider that beauty as anything to do with real life and women they want for real life fucking and marrying and dating.  They use attainable beauty standards, however diverse, typically.  

___
<qpt> Disprove people? <qpt> What happens when you disprove them? Do they disappear in a flash of logic?
[ Parent ]
I differ on that (5.00 / 1) (#85)
by khallow on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 11:20:09 AM EST

People are aware of photoshop and airbrushing, and they do know it's a carefully pasted together unreal image. It's a strawman used by anti-advertising sorts, the idea that most are soooo obsessed with competing with the unreal images on tv. People don't consider that beauty as anything to do with real life and women they want for real life fucking and marrying and dating. They use attainable beauty standards, however diverse, typically.

Guess I'll have to give up. I tried looking for evidence one way or another on the subject. FWIW, I get the feeling that worldwide, people spend about half a percent of GDP (almost 50 billion USD out of 9 trillion USD for the US GDP and 175 billion USD out of 30 trillion USD for the world GDP) on cosmetics and toiletries and a smaller amount on cosmetic surgery. Personal beautification is considered important, but what these people are trying to emulate is open to question.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Features of beauty are mostly culturally invariant (5.00 / 1) (#105)
by Belligerent Dove on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:39:23 AM EST

One paper I found well-referenced was Cunningham, M.R., Roberts, A.R., Barbee, A.P., Druen, P.B., & Wu, C.H. (1995), published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 261-279, which was titled "Their Ideas of Beauty Are, on the Whole, the Same as Ours": Consistency and Variability in the Cross-Cultural Perception of Female Physical Attractiveness.

I'll just quote their most definite attempt at a conclusion (I just love the emphasise on uncertainty in scientific papers): “Across Asian, Hispanic, Taiwanese, and American Black and White judges, a female face was seen as more attractive when possessing high eyebrows, widely spaced large eyes with dilated pupils, high cheekbones, small nose, a narrow face with thin cheeks, large smile, full lower lip, small chin, and fuller hairstyle. Such results suggest that the human ideal of a pretty face varies relatively little from culture to culture.”

There are much more similarities in taste between men of different ethnic-cultural backgrounds from this study, but I'm too lazy to summarise them in a non-copyright-infringing way at the moment (something to do with your username's legacy I'm afraid). Have you heard of this study, and can you reference other studies which support your assertion?

[ Parent ]

Look at your own study. (5.00 / 1) (#118)
by la princesa on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 10:56:57 PM EST

American blacks and whites and Hispanics dip into the same white-dominated cultural pool for their beauty standards.  A number of Asian cultures have beauty standards whose specifics (pale skin, wide eyes) are not dissimilar from American white standards of beauty.  Tell me Pacific Islanders feel the same way.  Tell me West Africans, Arabs, East Africans feel the same way.  Hell, tell me Eskimos feel the same way with regard to beauty standards.  You pull out this study, but what are the demographics on the population used?  Was it 20 people, 200 people, 2000 people?  Were they of variant economic backgrounds, of variant geographical locations?  Were the ages all the same?  Far from disproving my basic premise, you've reinforced it, albeit unwittingly.    

___
<qpt> Disprove people? <qpt> What happens when you disprove them? Do they disappear in a flash of logic?
[ Parent ]
erm yes (none / 0) (#119)
by Belligerent Dove on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 12:46:23 AM EST

I admit that this one study leaves some questions to be answered. 46 volunteering students took part in it, by the way. I'll quote the relevant parts:
Student volunteers were 46. White Americans (35 women and 11 men); 38 Asians (13 women and 25 men), including representatives from Japan (n = 25), People's Republic of China (n = 6), Thailand (n = 4), Taiwan (n = 2), and Korea (n = 1); 13 Hispanics (6 women and 7 men), including participants from Guatemala (n = 3), Panama (n = 3), El Salvador (n = 2), Columbia (n = 2), Cuba (n = 1), Spain (n = 1), and Mexico (n = 1). Because the number of Hispanic participants was lower than that of the Asians, and they came from a variety of cultures, high interrater reliability was a prerequisite for cross-cultural comparisons (see below).4

...

All respondents in these three studies were college students, moderately prosperous, and not isolated from Western standards of beauty. Despite efforts to evaluate their effects, background factors cannot be completely excluded as a cause of cross-cultural consistency obtained in these studies. This work should be replicated in poor and in remote rural populations (cf. Ekman & Friesen, 1971; Ekman et al., 1987). In acknowledging the limitations of college samples, it may oversimplify matters to conclude that if Asians, Hispanics, or Blacks display standards of beauty that are similar to those of Whites, the cause must be their exposure to White aesthetics. This cultural diffusion interpretation fails to account for the present finding that Whites and Blacks display similar standards for the face but different standards for the body or the Van den Berge and Frost (1986) finding that African cultures that did not have a dominant White population preferred lighter skin for women. Consequently, cultural socialization should not stand as a privileged hypothesis and was assumed to be exerting a powerful influence on physical attractiveness judgments in the absence of data on the developmental acquisition of standards of beauty that differ substantially across cultures.

That I reinforced your original premise is an unfortunate truth, and it's why I'd be interested in any authorative source that support your conclusion that beauty varies quite much. I admit that I'm skeptical about beauty being a culturally defined ideal.

The thing is that there are other studies like this which support a universal beauty ideal, but none that I know of that claim the opposite is true. I'm not a psychologist and haven't particularly looked into this, so that may not signify much though.

Anyway, since it would be much harder for me to list an extensive list of findings from other studies to support the universal beauty hypothesis, could you perhaps link to one that found that there exists no such thing? After all, I'm not going to just take your word on it, and I also don't know of any Eskimos living near me so I can't ask them either.

[ Parent ]

I can't speak for la princesa... (none / 0) (#123)
by cr8dle2grave on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 03:49:35 AM EST

...but my objection to such studies isn't that I find the idea of a strongly expressed cross cultural preference for a specific set of proportional relations among facial features to be somehow improbable, rather I object to the overly simplistic reduction of "beauty" to mere proportion.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
The definition of beauty is also reduced (none / 0) (#124)
by Belligerent Dove on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 08:46:32 AM EST

I think that the golden ratio, symmetry and other known properties of attraction, only in part define what is commonly understood as beauty. What I believe these particular features tell us, is how appropriate a person is for procreation. There's no shame in that when you get over the fact that we're still preprogrammed in some ways, as animals are.

For example, if you ask a random group of people (or a lesser random group if la princesa actually hit upon something here) to order people by beauty then you'll get similar results. The results are also predictable by the rules of attraction discovered by psychologists. Even tests with babies produce results in line with the findings from experiments with adults.

Now, that's not to say that attraction and beauty are entirely based on instinct because I find that difficult to believe myself. But before we proceed let's rename the scientific view of beauty as fitness — that is, the collection of physical clues about your health and quality of genes. This fitness is complemented by a less understood, and very much subjective, notion of beauty. This personal touch is why, I think, people will still call some supermodels a dog, and why they'll prefer some less fitter individuals over other, more scientifically attractive, persons.

I think this sort of “common sense” complemented by opinion, is actually always present in aesthetics. It could be why we're all gifted to seperate art from stupidity, music from noise and elegant program design from hacks. Though opinions on aesthetics do differ from era to era, and from culture to culture, I have yet to confuse someone's favourite music with noise — surely this is a clue that points to the importance of nature (as opposed to nurture).

Findings such as universal grammar (assuming this is not what la princesa mentioned earlier) and the similarity of drawings in the different stages of development from infant to adult between persons, suggest that this common sense is perhaps even essential to development of society. Without them we probably wouldn't even be able to understand one another.

My point is that this mutual heritage of understanding is what sets us free. It is what enables us to discuss beauty in the first place, and as such, it's not something to be ashamed of; although it might be useful to be aware of it. Basically the whole thing only sucks for those who're below average beauty, but then being below average in anything sucks so why would want to make an exception here?

[ Parent ]

Ahh fuck regulation (none / 0) (#46)
by spacejack on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 08:55:22 PM EST

Whatcha gonna do? Roll over and play dead? :)

The importance of advertising to business (5.00 / 7) (#55)
by MichaelCrawford on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:17:29 AM EST

Funny you should post this, just the last few days I have been thinking of writing an article aiming to enlighten the non-specialist public about some of the marketing techniques deployed against them. I'll include a few tidbits here.

(+1FP when this gets to voting BTW, I think this is one of the best pieces I've read here. My wife was in hysterics when I showed her the two thong ads.)

I would personally like to live in an advertising-free world. I happen to prefer two brands of shoes - Clarks and Rockports. I really loved my old Clarks, but I couldn't find any one day, so I got Rockports. And it really pissed me off that I couldn't get Rockports without the damn logo on the back of the heel. And that logo was very subtle as clothing logos go.

I used to work for a small software company as a Mac programmer. We published a number of productivity products, spellchecker, simple word processor and the like. However, if you looked at how we allocated our resources, it would really be inaccurate to say we were a software company. Instead, we were a direct mail marketing company. The software merely provided fodder so our cover letters had something to sell.

To understand this, consider the amount of money we spent in marketing to sell a single item of one of our products. QuickLetter, a simple word processor, retailed for $49. Pretty good price eh? And we'd make scads of money for the cost of a floppy disk, a modest manual, and a box.

Not so. One year we calculated that the cost in marketing to get the $49 gross return was $47. The money was spent on postage, printing, direct mail service fees (a lot of labor went into mailing those ads), and (importantly) mailing list rental. The two dollars in profit had to pay the salaries of our staff (~6 people), the rent on our office, our considerable long distance telephone bill and numerous other expenses.

Was it worth it? Hell yes. QuickLetter was our flagship product. We had others, but QuickLetter brought in the most money.

Postage and printing could not be so expensive you say. Well, mailing a single ad didn't cost much, but the problem was that a successful mailing had a response rate of about one-half of one percent. So for every purchase, 199 of our letters were thrown in the trash, mostly unopened.

0.5% is widely considered a successful (and sustainable) return rate in the direct mail business. It was not uncommon for us to write checks to the post office for $50,000. There were years we grossed in the millions of dollars, but our margin was just enough to pay a half dozen people a modest salary. I worked there as long as I did because my coworkers felt like family to me, not because it was a lucrative position.

Mailing list rental: we mostly got our prospect's names and addresses from magazines and other software companies. Typically we paid 10 cents per name per mailing to rent the names. We were not allowed to mail to any names twice without paying again. List-rental companies check this by including fake "trap names" in the list - if a letter addressed to a trap name was recieved, and the letter wasn't from a legitimate rental, then you'd get sued. And sued big. Most advertisers are very careful not to send unauthorized mailings, although we did catch people mailing twice to our list.

But an additional payoff is that when a prospect bought our product, their name could now be entered on our mailing list. Not only could we now mail to them without paying rental fees - we could rent their name out to other software companies! Identifying a "purchaser" - someone who not only opens their junk mail, but responds to it by buying the advertised product - was very valuable to us. We could make money from them for years afterward.

Now I want you to consider something: who to blame for spam. Naturally, everyone blames the spammers. More sophisticated people blame lazy sysadmins who leave relays open, and shady ISPs who allow their customers to send spam. But not many people really consider that it takes two to tango: the real blame for spam lies in the people who buy what the spam is offerring. Those people are out there. There are probably millions of them. Until something is done to make these people stop buying, spam will continue.

To understand the magnitude of the problem, compare spam to direct mail: a mailing with a 0.5% response rate turned a tidy profit, even considering all the costs for list rental, postage and printing. What response rate is required to profit from spam, considering that your costs are nearly nothing if you can find an open relay? I don't think that it's unrealistic to make a comfortable living with a response rate of 1 purchaser in a million pieces of spam delivered.

For a little while now I have noticed a remarkable upsurge in the volume of spam I receive offerring penis enlargement and (discreetly mailed, no prescription) viagra. I didn't used to get them at all. Now I get torrents, even more than the porn and nigerian spam. Why is this?

I believe that it has recently become widely know to the spammers that men who either have small penises, or who cannot achieve erection, are (ready for it?) purchasers.

Until you can get men to accept themselves with the size of penis they were born with, and until you can get men to either see a doctor for a prescription or live celibate, the spam will continue.

Maybe you can stop the manhood enlargement spam someday. But pornography has existed as long as humans could draw and sculpt. I didn't get to see the sexually explicit murals that were painted in the homes of Pompei residents when I visited as a child, but I learned when I grew up that they were there - and quite popular among the romans.

The porn spam will never stop.

Thank you for your attention.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


Spam the Moon (none / 0) (#62)
by gnovos on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 04:03:26 AM EST

Postage and printing could not be so expensive you say. Well, mailing a single ad didn't cost much, but the problem was that a successful mailing had a response rate of about one-half of one percent. So for every purchase, 199 of our letters were thrown in the trash, mostly unopened.

0.5% is widely considered a successful (and sustainable) return rate in the direct mail business. It was not uncommon for us to write checks to the post office for $50,000. There were years we grossed in the millions of dollars, but our margin was just enough to pay a half dozen people a modest salary. I worked there as long as I did because my coworkers felt like family to me, not because it was a lucrative position.

It sounds to me like the real problem you guys, and probably everyone like you, is that you use advertising like a machine gun, spraying these direct mails every which way, hoping that somehow you'll strike a mark, any mark.  Instead think sniper rifle.  One bullet, one key target.

You might have done equally well sending 99% of your mail to the moon and 1% to five college kids for $10 an hour to hand research potential clients by having them comb through Usenet posts for people who complain about Word.  You'd probably get roughly the same response rate, maybe even more!

A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen
[ Parent ]

Direct mail is very scientifically targeted. (5.00 / 6) (#67)
by MichaelCrawford on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 04:36:26 AM EST

I wanted to save the discussion of research and mailing list testing for the article I plan to write, hopefully soon.

But actually most of our effort was expended on careful research. Before renting a magazine's full list, we would rent a small sample of a thousand names, and send a test mailing to the small list to measure its response.

Some magazines had segmented lists. Those free magazines you get in return for answering surveys about your job function were like that. We could get lists consisting of just managers, or of just clerical personnel.

Besides testing a list, we would test the offer. We'd send tests with different prices - cheaper offers might get a higher enough response rates to be more profitable than a higher priced offer.

We would also test the wording in the offer letter, even the color of the paper the letter was printed on. We especially tested the envelope - the size, shape, color and wording on the envelope. The biggest challenge was getting the recipient to open the envelope at all. That's why you commonly see direct mail offers that look like government checks, collection agency notices and so on. Often the envelopes have very expensive full-color printing with professional graphic design.

It was no accident that the direct mail consultant who assisted us in our efforts had a Ph.D. in Psychology. Neither was it an accident that our marketing manager for some time was a graduate student in Psychology.

Do you know why so many direct mail letters look like BUY NOW! DON'T DELAY!?? That's because decades of careful research have determined that that's what makes recipients order the products. I am not bullshitting you.

Direct mail is actually a very methodical and scientific way to sell products. It's results are easier to measure than any other form of advertising, and it produces the quickest results. It's far more effective than the image ads you see on TV.

All of this explains why direct mail is so effective that it can get as much as a 0.5% response rate. That's why so many companies use it. That's why you probably get a few pieces of junk mail in your mailbox every day.

Unfortunately, not everyone who sells through direct mail knows how to do it. It's not rocket science, but some refuse to learn. One reason Apple's marketing has historically been pathetic was that their marketing department would mail to a large magazine's entire subscriber list without doing any testing at all - no testing of the list, the price, the offer, the envelope. Simply drop a million pieces of mail in the system. And they would lose collosal amounts of money on these mailings, and sell very few products.

Dave Johnson, the owner of Working Software, was constantly frustrated at Apple for doing this, because we sold Macintosh software. Because most software is purchased soon after the purchase of a new computer, our sales were tied directly to Apple's, and Apple constantly kept dropping the ball.

Apple also refused to support it's developers by not allowing developers to mail to Apple's registered user list. This could have been a significant source of revenue for Apple, and would have helped Apple's developers significantly. Dave tried for years to rent Apple's list, with no success.

One more factoid for you: don't bother complaining to the postal service about your junk mail. They won't listen, because the postage from direct mail forms the vast majority of the postal service's revenue. Direct mail is also much cheaper to deliver, because it is sorted, bar coded, the addresses are neatly printed so you can use OCR, and the letters are all delivered to the post office oriented the same way. Imagine how much cheaper it is to deliver a million pieces of direct mail from a single sender than to deliver a million pieces of hand-addressed mail deposited in curbside mailboxes across the nation.

In fact, the post office bends over backwards to support direct marketers. I know they were very helpful to me when I consulted them. I have a strong suspicion that personal letters can only be delivered economically because they are subsidized by the vast quantity of direct mail.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

The state of our economy (4.00 / 1) (#113)
by cep on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 03:27:36 PM EST

One year we calculated that the cost in marketing to get the $49 gross return was $47.

That number surprised and, to a certain amount, frightened me. Is it typical? Can it be that our economy is so inefficient? The number made me think that this heavily advertisement-based economy is actually at the brink of of collapse.

But this high costs for advertising can't be typical. Or can it? What os going on?

[ Parent ]

Kasreyn made this point (none / 0) (#115)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:30:52 PM EST

In his comment above Kasreyn makes a point about this:

Frankly, if the advertising culture did not exist, neither would our economy in its current condition. Right now, only a small percentage of humans are employed producing Basic Needs. I do NOT include cable TV, insurance, and internet service in Basic Needs. =P I mean food, water, sanitation, housing, and adequate medical care. So what does everyone ELSE do for a living? Mostly, they produce useless things, or they spend their time convincing others to buy the useless things, or they take part in the economic crap-shoot of capitalism, or they run one scam or another.

While our products were useful, generally worked well and were appreciated by the people who used them, none of them served anything like a basic need, not even if you included the basic uses of a computer among your basic needs.

QuickLetter was more convenient than a regular word processor for the specific task of writing letters, but a regular word processor got the job done. Spellswell was a great aid for poor typists and spellers, but you could do without it if you made the choice to either accept poor spelling in your writing - you can still communicate this way - or to study to improve your typing or spelling.

I think that products that are more clearly necessities don't include as much marketing in their cost. Food, for example. The fraction of the cost of basic staples that consists of advertising is probably very low, while the advertising cost of a candy bar is probably quite high - they advertise candy bars on TV, which is quite expensive. You don't see potatoes advertised on TV very much, but people eat them a lot.

When I studied social psychology, I learned that advertising is most effective when the choice that the advertising influences is inconsequential. Thus you see a great deal of TV advertising for toilet paper, but you see hardly any advertising at all for home purchases.

I still have my textbook from that class, I'll go see if I can find where it says that and quote it in another post.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

Deliberate beauty (4.00 / 1) (#58)
by OzJuggler on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 01:18:15 AM EST

Because beauty is largely an accident, it is not an achievement, nor a goal to be worked towards.
Physical beauty is a state function. When you look at a gorgeous person there is no history there - you cannot see how they became that way. To recycle a jingo, "maybe she's born with it, maybe it's Maybelline." There is opportunity to improve on what your genetic dice-roll gave you at birth. To say nothing of deliberate actions (such as piercing) which may decrease your beauty in the eyes of some.

Essentially, if we could not affect our beauty in any way then yes it would be accidental. But when you consider that even moderate regular excercise can affect your beauty, I don't think it makes sense at all to speak of a phantom universe in which beauty is purely accidental.

But of course you already admitted that beauty was only "largely accidental", with the following consequences:

  • Beauty can be deliberately changed after birth.
  • It may be possible to achieve a target level of beauty if the measurement method is stable.
Furthermore it is obvious that there are hundreds of thousands of gym members around the world who will all slap you silly if you try to convince them that beauty cannot be achieved. In their own mind they may have achieved it already and just need continual maintenance to keep it that way.

That's my rebuttal of your description of beauty.
Your prescription that people should not work towards perfect beauty is something i totally agree with since we all know it is uncontrollable, unachievable and ultimately unsustainable.

If only I could realise my own rational advice and stop rejecting chicks just because they don't look like Barbie clones. Damn advertisers.
"And I will not rest until every year families gather to spend December 25th together
at Osama's homo abortion pot and commie jizzporium." - Jon Stewart's gift to Bill O'Reilly, 7 Dec 2005.

Gymmembers? (none / 0) (#75)
by MKalus on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 06:36:44 AM EST

Furthermore it is obvious that there are hundreds of thousands of gym members around the world who will all slap you silly if you try to convince them that beauty cannot be achieved. In their own mind they may have achieved it already and just need continual maintenance to keep it that way.

Well, that depends though, in todays world "slim is in" that's true, a hundred years ago "Meat on the bones" was what was "in". I guess if you would transplant someone from say... 1880 into todays world they would probably think that most women / men these days are "sickly thin".

The beauty ideal changes over time, currently it seems to be the "sports type" is in, doesn't matter if you are actually doing it or not as long as you wear the right clothes.

Don't believe me? Next time you're outside have a look around and you'll see what I mean.

Beauty these days is as much about image as it is about appearance, if not more so.
-- Michael
[ Parent ]

Beg to differ. (4.00 / 4) (#60)
by gnovos on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 03:48:20 AM EST

We have every reason to believe that advertising is highly effective at getting its message across. The worlds most successful businesses do not spend huge amounts of money, without expecting and getting results.

I have worked for many large companies that are more than happy to throw large sums of money down the toilet for no results.

I'm sure advertising works to some degree, but it's a classical case of diminishing returns.  The more you advertise, the less value you get from it, after a point.  If there were only one single billboard in the world, people would flock from all over to see it, it would be the single most powerful advertising medium in the world.  But with millions of them people learn to tune it out.  

Just look at SPAM if you don't believe me.   There was a time, ling ago, when I actually read through an entire spam, but this was when one spam a month was a big deal.  Now they cease to exist for me, they are just cruft to brush off my mailbox when I leave it unattended for some time.

A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen

Then perhaps (none / 0) (#82)
by Viliam Bur on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:55:49 AM EST

there are good advertisings (I mean those who make a lot of people buy the stuff), there are bad ones too; and there are companies that believe that any advertising is good if it is expensive enough.

There are many ways to try to attract people. Some of them are cheap and require mostly one great idea - and you have to be one of the firsts using this idea. Some are simple and stupid - like "Uh, how about buying 1000 billboards? Did not help last time... well, maybe we should rather use 2000 now?" - and they are liked by people who want to look smart, but who are not. And probably are some which are long known but still effective - the spam mails are the most hated example.

Perhaps buying K5 would be a good long-term ad strategy... ;-)

[ Parent ]

curing poor self images derived from mass media... (2.16 / 6) (#69)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 04:49:08 AM EST

is kind of like trying to stop globalization, or trying to stop violence/ sex on tv/ in the movies

a lot of overly concerned pseudo-intellectuals get around and pontificate on how very "wrong" something or else is, and devise a brillinat gameplan

and in the end, they don't change a damn thing

folks, apply your intellectual capacity against problems which you can really make difference in

learn the difference between things you can change, and things you can't

and you can't change human nature, simple as that really


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Its not so hopeless. (5.00 / 1) (#107)
by brain in a jar on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:02:24 AM EST

On trying to stop globalisation:

I think most of the smarter commentators on globalisation aren't trying to stop it. They realise that it is to some extent inevitable, and has the potential to bring tangible benefits. What people are trying to do is make the process more humane, and there are practical things that can be done to achieve this given the political will. For example international agreements on industrial safety, chemical safety, emissions standards etc. The problem with globalisation at present is that the decision making at the WTO is corporate dominated, carried out largely in secret and largely unnacountable. Yet WTO rules can trump national laws passed by democratically elected governments. This is not something we should be accepting or ignoring.

Violence/Sex on TV, this is also by no means a subject where nothing can be achieved. Different nations have different balances between sex and violence on the screen (USA: Lots of violence not much Sex, Sweden:Lots of sex/nudity, not much violence). We may decide that people like watching sex and violence, and that we should all get as much of them as we like, but that is our choice, it is not inevitable, if we wanted to we could choose otherwise.

Just because you personally think that these things should not be controlled, does not mean that control would be impossible to implement. We simply have to decide if it is desireable and if so how to go about it.

In this specific case control would probably be tricky, be a burocratic nightmare and not achieve too much. The ways people can defend themselves against assaults on their self esteem are largely philosophical, or take the form of avoidance (not watching TV). However, I would argue that at present the ad industry gets away with a lot of lies, or implied lies, because the regulators are not zealous enough and they won't be any more active until people start looking at what ads are doing to us and apply some pressure.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

As a b-School student.... (4.00 / 3) (#70)
by baron samedi on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:23:04 AM EST

Who recently completed their Marketing Management class, I have mixed feelings about ads.

I understand the social psych/sociology aspects of marketing, and advertising, a little more.

On the one hand, they can be defended as being innocuous. They are every-day intrusions on our individual thought processes. They get in our heads, whether our we like them there or not. They influence our decsions on a very basic level.

On that point, they can be criticized for their manipulation of people's emotions.

I also know that ads are a key way to get your product's message out. So, on that point, I refuse to discount advertising wholesale.

That being said, I do believe that the practice of social science has indeed been corrupted, and that we always have to be critical of ads. Of course, not everyone has the capacity to be separate from the influence that companies have on us, nor do even some of us have the ability to separate ourselves from the worlds that advertising creates for us.


"Hands that help are better by far than lips that pray."- Robert G. Ingersoll

Are people really this pathetic? (rant) (3.55 / 9) (#77)
by Psycho Dave on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 07:05:10 AM EST

Ah, so it's advertising that gives people unrealistic expectations of beauty. C'mon, people like to look at pretty people in ads. Though there are norms of what people find attractive/unattractive, how many times have you looked at a model or an ad and while admitting they filled all the "social" requisites of beauty, you weren't particularly attracted to them. On the other hand, haven't you been walking down the street and seen someone who may have filled almost none of what is socially recognized as "standards of beauty" and still felt attracted to them (and not just to their personality.)

Give people a little more credit. Ugly people get laid, and sometimes not just by other ugly people. I'm concerned less about whether a girl is 110lbs and wears a D-cup than if she takes what she's got and makes it look good.

Though I used to buy into the whole advertising = psychological terror argument years ago in college, I've given up on it. I get bombarded by hundreds of pieces of penis-enlargment spam every week and I've never felt insecure about my average-sized schlong. I don't feel like less of a man because my friend drives a sports car and I don't. And if I got a sports car, I'd be like "yay, a sports car" and enjoy it for what it is. It isn't a vindication of my masculinity, no matter how many retarded/loud car commercials I see before the Super Bowl.

Revel in a little responsible consumerism. I don't know about you, but I like owning nice things. I earned it, I enjoy it. And if you're not enjoying it, then give it to me so I can enjoy it. You enjoy stuff much more when your whole being is not on the line. Of course advertising influences us, that's what it's designed to do. People who let it influence *everything* about them need to get out of the house, quit watching so much goddamn TV, and get a life.
PS: I don't just fuck ugly chicks. (Christ I need some sleep.)

People /are/ pathetic. (5.00 / 1) (#78)
by danni on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 07:16:09 AM EST

"People are like pens, if they don't work you shake them, if they still don't work then you throw them away."

N.B. I didn't say this, I just think its slighlt funny

[ Parent ]

My opinion, as an ugly man, [long] (4.72 / 25) (#86)
by Kasreyn on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:53:22 PM EST

is that you're too soft on the ad industry by far.

For one, I'm continually amused by people who pay attention to mass media and believe they aren't affected by advertising. A certain friend of mine thinks he's not influenced by it. He watches pop TV all day, and leaves the volume on - with commercials playing - as he does other things. Naturally, like any subliminal programming, commercials work best when you're not paying attention to them. So I'm hardly surprised that he wastes a vast amount of his money on needless knicknacks and "impulse buys". He's a smart guy - a Windows networking engineer, but don't hold it against him ;-P - yet he's been successfully programmed to be a prolific consumer. Of course, this programming was doubtless completed when he was still a child.

Makes me glad my parents rarely allowed me to watch TV, and frequently took time out to warn me that commercials were a bunch of malarkey. Unlike his, who I know for a fact never turn the damned thing off. My folks also taught me a little-known secret: commericals are why the mute button on the remote was invented. I hope I'm not violating National Security by letting you folks know this; as far as I can tell, no one outside my immediate family knows what that button is for...

Just remember, if you pay attention to TV during a commercial, you are being programmed. And if you don't pay attention, you are being programmed even more efficiently. To avoid the programming, avoid being exposed, even peripherally, to the message being sent. That's simply how it is.

As to using healthy and beautiful people, it's simply to be expected. And I would tend to agree that overall there is a public consensus on, say, what makes a woman beautiful. However, I would point out that this ideal changes over time, and from culture to culture. Ever wonder why all those nude women in old paintings are a bit... hefty? Back then, being plump was considered attractive because it was a direct sign of wealth. Only the rich could afford to be fat! Of course, today anyone in our society can afford to be fat (more on that later) ... only a few can afford to be perpetually slim. Thus, slim is now attractive (in women; bulk is still the rule in men). Further, I believe the mass media has the power to set not only topics of public discourse, but also to lead the way in changing a culture's viewpoints on beauty and self-image.

I won't deny that I find images of women in magazines attractive. They're not specifically my TYPE of women, but they're sure easy on the eyes. And to some extent, physical beauty IS a good identifier of a good reproductive partner. There ARE other factors, such as fidelity, wealth, stability, personality, and humor, which are also packaged and advertised. Yes, we all want to mate with the same 1% of the population. The problem is, before the arrival of mass media, we were never all able to be exposed to that 1%. A man living in a small town in America in the 1800's would think the prettiest woman in his town was the prettiest anywhere, simply due to the lack of evidence of her competitors. She was simply the only one he saw. Or perhaps he would see a picture of a famous actress in the newspaper, and marvel at her beauty. In any case, any individual beautiful person would have a very low number of followers.

Compare to today, when millions of teenaged boys and middle-aged closet pedophiles jerk off to Britney Sphere's image nightly, and you begin to realize how things have progressed. Not only can the images of the beautiful people reach more people, they also require fewer beautiful people to produce enough images to reach everyone - thus it's no longer the prettiest 1%, it's more like the prettiest .01%. Which merely increases the level of difference between what we see in advertising, and what we see when we look around us. The average person exposed to the mass media can easily, on any particular day, be exposed to several images of people more attractive to him than anyone he will ever actually meet in his life.

The same process actually applies to every field; where before each nation would have its prized scientists, today scientists are rated on a global scale, and thus precious few get true recognition. In ancient Athens alone we know of dozens of physicists and scientists whose names resound through history. Ask the average American today to name a living scientist, and he'd probably only be able to think of Hawking, unless he (incorrectly) guessed Sagan was still alive. You can draw the analogy in other fields if you wish. For instance, writing. In former times, many, many people were able to write books. You didn't need to publish a print run of millions. You either wrote it by hand and distributed it to friends, or you hired a printer for a run of maybe one or two thousand copies. Of course, your message would reach relatively few people. But you would be heard. Today, it is unbelievably hard for a new novel writer to break into the industry. A new novel by Stephen King is always going to be preferable to his publisher than a novel from an unknown, and not even because the publisher thinks King is better. King is proven to sell well, and so he gets a lion's share of public attention.

Humans naturally compare and contrast things. Some have speculated that the secret of our intelligence lies merely in our brains' capacity as powerful pattern-matching engines. The commercials show a world of beautiful, smiling, sexually desirous people having fun. It's such a pleasant world, that we naturally want to be part of it. We want our self-image to be associated with that world. And when we find from experience that the world we bought into is only fantasy, we are disappointed and disillusioned, and we transfer that feeling to our real lives. Interestingly (at least to me), the philosophy of advertising is almost diametrically opposed to that of Buddhism, whose viewpoint is that the way to decrease suffering is to decrease desire. Instead, desire is being stoked like a furnace; the train it drives is the modern economy.

And the reason for it is apparent, and perhaps even useful. Simply put, there aren't enough jobs for everyone on the planet under the current system, without advertising. Imagine if everyone stayed home to eat - or merely foreswore fast food. How many millions of restaurant workers would be out of jobs? Well, why DO people buy fast food? It's not particularly cheap, and it's not actually that fast when you consider the time taken to get there and back. They partially buy it because it's part of our culture, and partially because it's well-advertised. Why do people drink Gatorade instead of putting some sugar and food coloring in a glass of water (which is cheaper)? Because, images of athletes drinking it convince us that we can have an athletic image by drinking it. Why do people with no need to haul large loads or groups of people buy SUV's? Why spend thousands of extra dollars on extra aluminum and plastic to drive around in? Self-image, that is all.

Frankly, if the advertising culture did not exist, neither would our economy in its current condition. Right now, only a small percentage of humans are employed producing Basic Needs. I do NOT include cable TV, insurance, and internet service in Basic Needs. =P I mean food, water, sanitation, housing, and adequate medical care. So what does everyone ELSE do for a living? Mostly, they produce useless things, or they spend their time convincing others to buy the useless things, or they take part in the economic crap-shoot of capitalism, or they run one scam or another.

The majority of the human race doesn't have to work for their living any more. If we could count on everyone to act responsibly, we could just have the farmers etc., produce the food and necessities, and the rest of us could take up full-time navel-gazing or philosophy. Instead, our society is geared to continuate the work ethic and ideals of a former society in which we DID have to work to survive. It's been such a gradual process we simply didn't notice it, is all. And perhaps we're too individually irresponsible for any other system to work as well.

Back on the topic of beautiful people: No Logo is a wonderful book, I also highly recommend "Jennifer Government", and "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television". The problems of insecurity and poor self-image caused by advertising are real, and can only be solved by reminding oneself constantly that the images you are seeing are NOT images of real life; that they are merely carefully staged to imitate it. Turn off the TV and go to a public place and look at real people walking by. If you keep your eyes and your mind open, you will still see beauty in everyday humans. It's when you start trying only to live in the advertising dream-world that you're lost.


-Kasreyn

P.S. +1 Section


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Re: My opinion, as an ugly man (4.00 / 5) (#87)
by Fredrick Doulton on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 01:51:17 PM EST

But sir, you are far too hard on yourself. You are beautiful on the INSIDE!

Bush/Cheney 2004! - "Because we've still got more people to kill"
[ Parent ]

that comment (none / 0) (#89)
by Run4YourLives on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 04:38:18 PM EST

is one of the most insightful things I've read in quite a while.

Sadly, there is no 6th mod point.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Aww, I'm blushing. ^_^;; -nt (none / 0) (#101)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 12:12:46 AM EST

nt
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
wow, a post by Kaseryn (none / 0) (#90)
by rmg on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:20:50 PM EST

that is not mostly occupied by his sig.

_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

Does this mean you're my biggest fan? =) -nt (none / 0) (#100)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 12:12:34 AM EST

whoops, this one's mostly sig! :-P


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
You know what? (none / 0) (#97)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 11:08:30 PM EST

Just a short comment, I just realized something. I definitely buy less stuff since I got my TiVo. Of course it could be a sign of maturity, or laziness, but it's kind of interesting that I don't buy as much useless crap now that I don't watch TV commercials.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Majority?? (4.50 / 2) (#112)
by Kruador on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 12:25:14 PM EST

The majority of the human race doesn't have to work for their living any more.

I beg to differ. A large proportion of the human race does have to work for their living. I will agree that a majority of people in the West don't.

However, while we still have capitalist structures, we have to find some way of earning money in order to purchase our living from the people who make it. They themselves don't make all of it - the people who grow crops don't provide sanitation, and vice versa, so they have to buy portions of their living from each other. And we have to find a way of moving the 'living' from the place where it's made to where it's consumed, or all go back to living on farms. The people doing the moving also want to be able to pay for their living.

Part of our problem, though, is that we have somehow reached the point where the non-vital things are valued much higher than the vital ones. Those of us who produce non-vital things (I'm a software engineer, so I include myself) tend to be paid more and have a 'disposable' income. Which I tend to dispose on techie toys (recently bought a new PC) because my food and housing needs are covered.

Ironically I'm supposed to be working right now.

[ Parent ]

Actually, (4.00 / 1) (#120)
by Kasreyn on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 01:38:40 AM EST

the West could feed the world if it wanted. We have the industry to do it, with a relatively small workforce needed. Proportionally, one American farmer using modern methods can feed thousands to millions of times as many people as one Ethiopian farmer could.

We're not doing it, of course, because the non-Western world is too broke to afford our services. I'm not making an anti-capitalist rant (THIS time...), I'm just pointing out that the "people have to work to survive" idea is fast growing untenable. It's still true, but not for the same reasons. Originally, you had to work just to get the basic neccessities of life. Now you have to work to get the people who already have those neccessities to give them to you.

The last thing I would propose would be to tear down the system. I don't know how to grow food or hunt. I'd die in days in a world without other people feeding me. So far, they've done it in exchange for money. In the future, if money ceases to have value, then if there is no replacement system, people like me will die in droves. Hopefully, BEFORE the crisis of joblessness shatters the system, we'll see it coming and make changes to prevent the social structure from collapsing during the changeover. But it doesn't seem likely.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
recipe for happiness (1.00 / 2) (#99)
by livus on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 12:00:53 AM EST

I'm mostly attracted to men with hairy backs and chests and who have fat covering over their stomach muscles.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

Self-induced vomiting (4.60 / 5) (#102)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 01:33:04 AM EST

I have a close friend who attended Miss Porter's School, a private boarding school for girls.

While dining at an alumni dinner a few years after graduating, she stood up and loudly commented on the fact that every woman who had ever attended Miss Porter's School had an eating disorder. It was made clear to her that she was not welcome back.

It is common for women, especially high school girls, to induce vomiting so that they don't digest the food they have eaten. It becomes an unstoppable neurosis known as bulemia.

Besides the danger of dying from malnutrition as Karen Carpenter did, bulemia can cause serious damage to the esophagus and teeth. Bulemics are often first referred to treatment by dentists who discover the damage done to their teeth by acidic stomach fluid.

Women make themselves vomit so they can be thin. They want to be thin so they can look like the beautiful women they see on TV, in movies - and in advertisements. But most women are physiologically incapable of getting to look like that through any healthful means, so either by refusing food or vomiting it back up, they starve themselves into compliance with the societal ideal of feminine beauty.

My friend indeed meant "everyone" when she spoke at that alumni dinner. She held a terrible secret for many years.

She was a deeply troubled woman. From time to time she used to call me on the phone, screaming and crying because of some trauma she'd sufferred - trouble with men, her parents, with school. I would drive over and console her. Often, she would ask me to take her out to dinner, and sure enough by the time we were done with dinner she was laughing and joking with me.

One day I got a surprising telephone call from her. She was a patient in a psychiatric hospital. She had been brought to the hospital near death, in a self-induced diabetic condition. She asked me to buy her a muffin and bring it to the hospital for her. A muffin was specified because her diet in the hospital was carefully controlled by her doctor, who felt that a muffin was acceptable.

When I visited she confided to me that she was bulemic, and had been for many years. She never told anyone. I knew her as well as anyone could, but I had no idea.

And you know what she told me? She told me that all the times she asked me to take her to dinner because she was so upset, the reason she was always happy by the time we left was that after getting a good meal in her stomach she was able to go to the restroom in the restaurant and vomit.

For many years, vomitting was the only thing that comforted my friend when she was upset.

Thank you for your attention.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


we got kicked out for that (5.00 / 3) (#108)
by livus on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:58:26 AM EST

seriously, girls at the boarding school I went to were kicked out if anyone found out that they had an eating disorder.

Which is really like, way to go to just kick the problem under the rug. Ironic really, expulsion for expulsion of another kind.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

On Indonesia and getting a perspective on things (5.00 / 3) (#103)
by levsen on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:03:43 AM EST

I always highly recommend travelling the world to anyone. Funny thing is you have to see another world to understand your own. I did a 5 week trip to Sulawesi, one of the less touristy islands of Indonesia some time ago, and found a lot of things I didn't expect.

While the original intention was to indulge in some exotic atmosphere and play colonial times explorer for a couple of weeks, the pleasure of time going slow and people being friendly and uncomplicated was a surprise.

What bugs me most personally about advertising is not the unrealistic images of beauty it conveys, but the vast masses of messages that rain in on you and you have to constantly sort out the important ones from the mostly unimportant ones.

You don't realize how billboards, TV ads etc. keep your mind busy (and distracted) until you go to some place like rural Indonesia where any advertising, if at all, is on the level of Western countries 100 years ago. (Part of this being of course that often there are no TVs in the first place, I'm sure Indonesian TV is as crappy as Western.)

Back from the trip, just stepping out of the plane, I got an immediate headache just looking around the airport. What are these billboards trying to tell me? Where's the catch? Why am I supposed to read this?

I'm hoping I'm making some sense here. You have to experience it yourself to fully understand that.


This comment is printed on 100% recycled electrons.

Couldn't agree more (none / 0) (#106)
by brain in a jar on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:39:46 AM EST

Advertising is just so much more junk information to have to sort though. It makes it harder to think and to sort signal from noise.

I think these days everybody has to have some method for getting rid of junk information, annoying memes. Whether its meditating, going off into the countryside, sports or whatever else we all need time to take out our mental trash. A lot of which is put their by advertising.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Indonesian Advertising Standards are different (5.00 / 1) (#109)
by livus on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:10:04 AM EST

Some of what you describe probably has something to do with their advertising standards. You say that their tv is as crappy as western, but I doubt that the slant is the same. All ads have to go before their censorship board which looks at not just obscenity and target but also limiting the creation of envy of western lifestyle.

Look at their laws on advertising which are, in part:

"Foreign models or location are not allowed except for international non-consumer products and need a production permit before commencement. Outdoor signs should use Indonesian copy. If foreign language is used it has to be smaller than the Indonesian copy."*

You'll find a similar law in place in Malaysia. I would argue that it's not a case of these people being us 100 years ago with no TVs but rather a deliberate attempt through legislation to counteract the forces described above.

* http://www.asianmediaaccess.com.au/other/index-advertising.htm

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Okay (none / 0) (#110)
by werty on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 10:18:22 AM EST

Post me a plane ticket

[ Parent ]
Age of consent should be repelled (4.20 / 5) (#111)
by Quietti on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 11:21:47 AM EST

Back as a teenager in the late-80's, I recall watching a TV program where they showed various ad campains that were considered either sexist or overly erotic for the time, with both marketing agency representatives and psychologists commenting on the particulars of each picture. There was one that caught my attention, since I had seen it on numerous bus stops:
Some of you might recall that L'Oreal ad, depicting the side view of a naked girl, from navel down to mid-thigh, showing her perfect little ass and lithe figure, decorated with a red silk scraf around the waiste that seems to be wavering in the wind?
The reason why the model's figure was so perfect was revealed in that TV program: she was 10 years old!
Ever since then, I have considered that, since it was okay to show a 10-year old naked for a perfume ad, it should also be okay for men to want to shag the said 10-year old and not end up beat up by a mob or jailed for child molesting.
At some point, society is gonna have to face its responsabilities: if screwing with a teenager is not okay, then hiring a teenager as a naked model should also be forbidden. Otherwise, if hiring pre-teens as naked models is okay, it should also be legal to shag them.
Whichever of those two options you choose, can you make up your bloody mind?

Off-topic, but related to my opinion on sexually-loaded advertising: Why is it that any man that as much as remotely entertains the possibility of finding a teanager attractive is instantly labeled as a pedophile and chastitized, while lesbians doing The Vagina Monologue are allowed to openly share their joy of having introduced a teenage girl to the joys of lesbian sex and have yet to end up in jail for having sex with a minor?

--
The whole point of civilization is to reduce how much the average person has to think. - Stef Murky

Ahah (none / 0) (#122)
by collideiscope on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 03:43:10 AM EST

Why is it that any man that as much as remotely entertains the possibility of finding a teanager attractive is instantly labeled as a pedophile and chastitized, while lesbians doing The Vagina Monologue are allowed to openly share their joy of having introduced a teenage girl to the joys of lesbian sex and have yet to end up in jail for having sex with a minor?

Damned good question.

-------------------------------
Hope is a disease. Get infected.
[ Parent ]
I think you mean repealed (none / 0) (#136)
by synaesthesia on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 01:27:44 PM EST

But do you mean altogether? Is sex with one-year-old babies okay with you?

Ever since then, I have considered that, since it was okay to show a 10-year old naked for a perfume ad, it should also be okay for men to want to shag the said 10-year old and not end up beat up by a mob or jailed for child molesting. At some point, society is gonna have to face its responsabilities: if screwing with a teenager is not okay, then hiring a teenager as a naked model should also be forbidden. Otherwise, if hiring pre-teens as naked models is okay, it should also be legal to shag them.

Or do you actually mean "pre-pubescent" when you say "teenager" (or "pre-teen" - can you make up your bloody mind? :P )

At some point, you're going to have to face your own responsibilities. You may feel that certain 10-year-olds have "perfect little asses", and adverts with pictures of them might titilate you, but you alone are responsible for whether or not you act on your impulses.

More generally, you should stop looking at morality from the perspective of "If someone else does something bad, it gives me the right to do something equally bad".

Incidentally, I don't know about your jurisdiction, but here in Britain I don't believe lesbian sex is yet officially recognised in our somewhat archaic legal system.


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

Good article, and a partial "bullcrap" (4.00 / 1) (#116)
by cburke on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:37:44 PM EST

No single company has enough power to carry out such a piece of social engineering. Although the damage to the self-esteem of so many people has occurred, it was never part of the plan, merely a useful side effect. It is unfair to say that the "beauty" and advertising industries deliberately made us insecure, however they have certainly benefited from the process.

I call bullcrap here.  How many beauty advertisements make a point of emphasizing how unattractive you are without their products?  I never knew cold sores were not just less beautiful than no cold sores but embarassing until an advertisement said so.  How many use words such as "unsightly" or "embarassing" to describe life without their product?  Even the ones that don't emphasize the ugliness of your current state still are saying "you should look like this, because this is what beauty is, and it isn't you".  No, no company could have conducted the complete social engineering of a lack of self worth, but these advertisments are specifically designed to create such an effect.  When advertising something as completely unnecessary as cosmetics, it is necessary to not only create the image of your product solving a problem, but the problem itself.

Other than that, great article.

One of my favorite passtimes is in those occasions where I end up watching commercials is to try to reduce the commercial to it's fundamental message.
90% fall into the category:  "Use our product, and you'll get laid."  I like doing this because I feel that the message is there anyway, even if I only notice it subconsciously, and by brining it to the conscious level I can disarm it.  But usually I just try not to watch ads. :)

P.S.  To people who think they are unaffected by advertisements -- think again.  You're wrong.  Maybe not as much as the guy buyning everything that pops up on QVC, but you still are.  You can't avoid having seen and absorbed the messages contained in the ads.

Those "you'll get laid" ads (none / 0) (#121)
by ledestin on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 02:05:28 AM EST

One of my favorite passtimes is in those occasions where I end up watching commercials is to try to reduce the commercial to it's fundamental message. 90% fall into the category: "Use our product, and you'll get laid." I like doing this because I feel that the message is there anyway, even if I only notice it subconsciously, and by brining it to the conscious level I can disarm it. But usually I just try not to watch ads. :)

Yes :) But I rarely need to reduce, it is usually so "in your face".

Such ads strike me as ridiculous and I keep wondering why are they done so. As a joke? Not really funny. Why then?


slashdot reader #624309
[ Parent ]

I beg to dissagree with the article and you (none / 0) (#125)
by garaged on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 01:55:24 PM EST

With all my respect, I think the commecial ads have some effect on people, but thats a whole different problem, usually people affected are persons with some personality problems, most people I know dont get impressed by any add, and most people dont even take a lot of attention on them.
I drink coke because i like the flavour, i dont like pepsi, how can u say that commecial ads are affecting me ? I should like both pepsi and coke!,and specially sprite.
On the other hand, beers have a lot different tastes, at least in mexico, and I only drink the only 1 i love, if theres nothing else, i can take another brand, but that doesnt happend so often.
I'm not fat, but still not very muscular, and I never buy all bran, or nothing like that to lose weight, and never eat low fat food, I like to get my cholesterol intact :-)
Again, i'm not pretty hansom, i think I'm within the last 40% any woman would chose in a dance club, so, I never go out of a club with a new girlfriend, and still i dont feel bad, or ugly, I KNOW beauty is accidental, so i dont care for it a lot, unless we're talking about a girl where beauty is very appreciated by me :-)
so, i dont quite get the problem here, I think we should care a lot more about weak people, and try to get a better world for everybody, If u feel good, try to make feel good ur nearest partners, and dont take a lot of care about the capitalist world, they are a self-destroying industry, dont need our help

[ Parent ]
It's not just the commercials that push this stuff (5.00 / 3) (#117)
by vsb on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:46:16 PM EST

Not only do we now have embedded advertising in TV and movie programs as well as books and magazines, not only do we have programs that are indistinguishable from extended advertisements, but the programs themselves also propagate the mindset talked about in the article.

In TV shows, all of the characters are young, trim, and have perfect skin and teeth, except some characters that are intended to be the butt of humor or hostility in the audience - on TV you can't be a hero if you have pimply skin. A person who watches a lot of TV gets a mindset that sees the flawless look as being the norm. It causes a mindset that sees the average person (like you see when you go to work or walk down the street) as below average in attractiveness. This can affect one's self-esteem if she has imperfect skin or teeth. (Embedded orthodontic advertising, which has increased in recent years, always show girls with >already straight<teeth wearing braces. By the way, did you notice the increase in numbers of American adults having orthodontic work done?) <P>Although TV advertising does in fact have some detrimental effects on self-esteem, the full effect is caused by the whammo punch of the whole package - the program, its advertising, the promotion of the "perfect" look in grocery stores, clothing stores, popup ads on the internet, visual advertising everywhere you walk on the street in a city - you cannot get away from it unless you stop consuming every type of mass communication, which in the "developed" world is not feasible.

And then there's pornography. People who look at large volumes of this stuff on a continuing basis get used to 1)perfect skin 2)perfect teeth 3)boobs out of proportion to body fat elsewhere on the body 4)women who look like children 5) women whose sexual behavior is unusual. (And how often do you see an old woman? They don't even exist!) Getting used to this stuff makes it more difficult for a guy to be satisfied with a "normal" woman.

Frankly, though, it's really all the same thing. Advertising, other TV and porn are all part of a world of fantasy. That's why people consume it.

Also, there's a large amount of socialization that encourages women to be dissatisfied with the way their bodies are naturally. But that's a whole 'nother topic.

The problem is that when a person consumes large quantities of fantasy it invades their brain to such a degree that they cannot see the world as it really is, and cannot appreciate the good things that the real world has to offer.

Turning the TV off, as recommended by others here, is a good step for anyone who wants less mental invasion by this crap. But you don't get out of the trap without realizing that it's all around you, not just on TV (and not just in commercials).

everyone always overlooks the gentlemen (none / 0) (#131)
by Mizuno Ami on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 12:24:51 AM EST

Also, there's a large amount of socialization that encourages women to be dissatisfied with the way their bodies are naturally. But that's a whole 'nother topic.

Don't forget about all the men who need to buy steroids and diuretics, as the article says. That's not mentioning all the megazines that show men "what women really want" or "100 tips to be a superman in bed," etc. Men are just as much victims of it all as women are; I guess it's just that men don't need to be protected since they don't make sure we know that they're weak all the time. I, at least, don't feel any compelling reason to protect someone because they bleed every month.

(Something that irritates me about feminism is it's all about showing me how women are weaker than men. I guess it's just mostly the fact that most men are socialized that going to the doctor is something to be avoided for the strong man because it admits weakness.)



[ Parent ]
There are differences (none / 0) (#137)
by darksym on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 01:47:25 PM EST

Frankly, though, it's really all the same thing. Advertising, other TV and porn are all part of a world of fantasy. That's why people consume it.

I always find the mass produced content is the ugliest. These people really aren't good looking. I don't see why anyone would think they are. It's certainly not my fantasy!

Primarily TV and advertising hold stupid ideals that repell me so that frequently, I go out of my way to avoid their content. Other more underground media sources don't have the celebrity budget to mistakenly create these flawed images and some of the people are actually attractive. Show us "normal" people. They overall are more attractive and are even beautiful once and a while.

At the same time, reality doesn't really factor into beauty: I still find unattainable perfection, just not in the same places as everyone else: it's really time based. No one can be beautiful always. Generally mass media, if anything, isn't _perfect enough_ for my tastes as they assume there is some constant beauty in holding a certain look.

Media wouldn't be so flawed if only they chose the right attributes.

[ Parent ]

How I deal with it... (none / 1) (#128)
by IriseLenoir on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 09:38:36 PM EST

Great article! And many interesting commnets too. It is also my experiance that most people believe they are in some way special so that they are not affected my advertising even if they'll agree that it has to work. And most people are suprised when I say that I am influenced my it. "But you are a smart person, you can make the difference, filter it out, blah, blah..." But it is my experiance also that people you say they filter it out (by not paying attention or not transfering it to memory) are the most affeected. And it is also my personal experiance, having tried different ways of dealing with it. Even though I used to think I didn't pay attention and it didn't affect me, I realised how wrong I was in a morality high school class (one of the very few intersting classes which you get to choose between that and religion over here). The teacher made us play a litle game: she would name corporations and we had to reply with their slogan. This is where I realised I knew them all! That got me thinking about how much information from advertising I had stored, and I concluded it was a whole lot! As I strongly believe we are what we "eat" at the second degree (what we know, what information we have to compare to our experiances and base decisions on), it kinda scared me. How does this all affect my thinking? Hard to tell, but I know it does. And in fact there are some ways to tell. Which all got me to my current aproch to advertising: I try to get as litle exposure to it as I can, but when I do have to be exposed to it, or when I catch myself looking at some poster in the subway or whatever, I force myself to actually pay a great deal of attention to it and analyse it. I found that this way, it is not only the message that I memorise, but my take on it, what it tries to do, psychological implications, etc. In other words, I rationalise it. And I found that it works! I can more easily recognise when the idea of buying something is not my own but a desire induced by pretty associations with things I like or want, or whatever. And, not being much of a consumer by nature, I contentate myself of very litle and have fun with simple things, indentifying these "alien thoughts" is quite easy if I pay attention and reconsider everything. And I find myself less and less influenced by advertising with this mind set. And I make it a duty to inverse the effect of advertising when I can drag it into a concious level by not giving money to people who fuck with my mind. So now I'm back to thinking advertising doesn't affect me? No way! I have a continued distrust in anything that tries to influence my jugdment for commercial reasons. And I found that this can also be a good way to develop a mental discipline. For it is not only advertising that tries to influence our judgement with irrational things. K5ers are a great pain, too ;-) Seriously, people try to get us to see things their way all the time and arguments that are easily falcifiable on second thought can be very convincing. Reconsidering every decision and trying to identify the factors that lead us to a certain conclusion/desire/belief is of utter importance. Anyone else found this aproch to work for them? Anything obvious I missed? Thoughts?
"liberty is the mother of order, not its daughter" - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
How I deal with it (formated) (none / 1) (#129)
by IriseLenoir on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 09:39:52 PM EST

Great article! And many interesting commnets too. It is also my experiance that most people believe they are in some way special so that they are not affected my advertising even if they'll agree that it has to work. And most people are suprised when I say that I am influenced my it. "But you are a smart person, you can make the difference, filter it out, blah, blah..."

But it is my experiance also that people you say they filter it out (by not paying attention or not transfering it to memory) are the most affeected. And it is also my personal experiance, having tried different ways of dealing with it. Even though I used to think I didn't pay attention and it didn't affect me, I realised how wrong I was in a morality high school class (one of the very few intersting classes which you get to choose between that and religion over here). The teacher made us play a litle game: she would name corporations and we had to reply with their slogan. This is where I realised I knew them all! That got me thinking about how much information from advertising I had stored, and I concluded it was a whole lot! As I strongly believe we are what we "eat" at the second degree (what we know, what information we have to compare to our experiances and base decisions on), it kinda scared me. How does this all affect my thinking?

Hard to tell, but I know it does. And in fact there are some ways to tell.

Which all got me to my current aproch to advertising: I try to get as litle exposure to it as I can, but when I do have to be exposed to it, or when I catch myself looking at some poster in the subway or whatever, I force myself to actually pay a great deal of attention to it and analyse it. I found that this way, it is not only the message that I memorise, but my take on it, what it tries to do, psychological implications, etc. In other words, I rationalise it. And I found that it works! I can more easily recognise when the idea of buying something is not my own but a desire induced by pretty associations with things I like or want, or whatever. And, not being much of a consumer by nature, I contentate myself of very litle and have fun with simple things, indentifying these "alien thoughts" is quite easy if I pay attention and reconsider everything. And I find myself less and less influenced by advertising with this mind set. And I make it a duty to inverse the effect of advertising when I can drag it into a concious level by not giving money to people who fuck with my mind.

So now I'm back to thinking advertising doesn't affect me? No way! I have a continued distrust in anything that tries to influence my jugdment for commercial reasons.

And I found that this can also be a good way to develop a mental discipline. For it is not only advertising that tries to influence our judgement with irrational things. K5ers are a great pain, too ;-) Seriously, people try to get us to see things their way all the time and arguments that are easily falcifiable on second thought can be very convincing. Reconsidering every decision and trying to identify the factors that lead us to a certain conclusion/desire/belief is of utter importance.

Anyone else found this aproch to work for them? Anything obvious I missed? Thoughts?

Sorry for the other post, please mod into oblivion...

"liberty is the mother of order, not its daughter" - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Concepts of Beauty (none / 1) (#133)
by chroma601 on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 07:57:17 AM EST

Great article. For an interesting website into an "alternative beauty", loaded with thoughtful comments about the media, self-esteem, and beauty throughout history, see http://www.judgmentofparis.com/index.htm - a site devoted to plus size models. Check out the "your comments" pages especially at http://www.judgmentofparis.com/Liis_Comments.htm and http://www.judgmentofparis.com/Comments2.htm for some thought provoking discussion of this subject. I'm just not into the waif look that the media have been foisting on us since Twiggy. These pages have a lot of info about the hows and whys the anorectic look came to replace the Mansfield/Monroe look that was the ideal of beauty fifty years ago. chroma601

Some of the comments are interresting, (none / 0) (#140)
by MKalus on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 10:57:07 AM EST

but I have to wonder here, what is their definition of plus sizes? To argue that "plus sizes are more feminine" I think is a far stretch, no?

I don't really care about sizes, I don't even have a clue what is what and quite frankly I don't care, the overall impression is what counts, how you live your life (and thus in a way look) is more important to me than what size of dress you fit in.

At the same time though there seems to be a "backlash" against the "Model world" in general and people / women seem to be more comfortable even if they are not stick thin, I guess that is good and bad at the same time. Accept yourself: Yes, let yourself "go" because you are "comfortable" with yourself I think is the downside of this.

But maybe I am just seeing this whole thing wrong.

M.
-- Michael
[ Parent ]

Right. Now put this someplace it'll do some good (4.00 / 2) (#134)
by mmsmatt on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 10:12:10 PM EST

Judging by the comments here, no one on K5 has been emotionally deflated by consistent exposure to advertising.

Unfortunately, many people have. So how will this message of, well, reason, get through to people who need it?

Improved looks? (none / 0) (#135)
by darksym on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 01:03:31 PM EST

"The industry has simply taken people who are already beautiful and made them more so, brought them closer to some unattainable ideal."


No they haven't! All the popular models today are butt ugly... eww.


Keep looking then (none / 0) (#139)
by Goggs on Sat Aug 02, 2003 at 08:39:45 AM EST

"All the popular models today are butt ugly"? Name a few!

-----== This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.
[ Parent ]

Beauty, Insecurity and Advertising. | 140 comments (97 topical, 43 editorial, 0 hidden)
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