Friday, July 29, 2011

You Can't Handle the Truth!

Did you know that Barbie is very nearly a
biologic impossibility?

Yesterday something I saw on Tarte Advertising Inc.’s Facebook page gave me pause, and like everything else that seems minor I let it extrapolate itself into having bigger meaning.

In the UK two ads have been banned because the models featured have been deemed to be so airbrushed as to no longer represent anything factual. And in the UK if your advertising doesn’t maintain some level of “fact” in its representation of what you’re advertising… you’re not allowed to say it. How ‘bout that?  

We here across the pond think that’s absolutely quaint of the UK. I mean, of course we WOULD. We’re the spurned lover who left for freer shores where we can hold up the very essence of perfection and impossibility and make it the imperative.

All self-degradation aside, I did have a moment where I wondered what the deeper implications are of our current ability to airbrush away every single minor flaw and imperfection. We see it everyday, everywhere we look. There is very little that is real in much of what we visualize all day and I wonder if we’ve internalized that process so as to make our private lives airbrushed and Photoshopped in our own minds.

Do we even want the truth anymore, or are we so delicate that no level of reality is acceptable? We don’t want to hear the truth from our leaders, or from anyone in a position of power or influence over us. What we WANT to hear is own ideology parroted back to us. We call it the truth.

In a case of societal bi-polar disorder, there is a movement for morbidly obese people to bring the sexy back to obesity. On one hand we offer up impossibly thin women as reality and then on the the other hand we dedicate ourselves to the celebration of the exact opposite. While I am whole-heartedly in favor of promoting humanity and compassion for the morbidly obese (as they are PEOPLE who should be afforded every manner of respect due any other person) I do not accept that morbid  obesity is something to celebrate, just as I do not think that drug addiction is something to celebrate as “diversity.” These things are illnesses because no person seeks to be 300+ pounds or an alcoholic. Given the opportunity most people want health. However, we don't celebrate a middle way; we are a society of extremes and of false truths...or as some people call them:  Lies.

But we can’t talk about that. It’s not politically correct and it seems harsh towards these communities...why? Why can’t we call things what they are? Why can’t we speak the truth  with compassionate tones and words? The truth is there whether we acknowledge it or not, whether it we airbrush it from the surface or make societies to celebrate its opposite. The Truth stands silently…it doesn’t go anywhere.

Because it’s the Truth.

No matter how the models look on the page it’s not fact; it’s fiction. They are selling an idea disguised as a product. And we’ve bought into the idea with every penny we’ve got. We buy into it every time a politician speaks, and we’ve encouraged them to speak the airbrushed “truth” rather than the Truth because we are so coddled by fantasy that we can no longer stand the unvarnished Truth.

Real women and real men are not measuring up to this impossible imperative that we’ve set for ourselves. Real doctors can’t be Gregory House, MD and don’t solve medical cases in one hour, nor do crimes get solved by teams of people with laser vision, able to find the piece of hair with fingerprints and unwavering DNA evidence among the carpet fibers. But we expect them to because someone presented it as entertainment and we forgot that it’s not the Truth.

So to answer the Tarte question of whether I think more advertisers should follow suit and be more realistic in their advertising: I think yes. I think we could all use a dose of actual reality in all areas. I think it’s time we decided that the lie is not the Truth and that we deserve to hear what’s really real. We have to do it for ourselves, every day, in every interaction. We need to ask ourselves the hard questions and be ready to see the hard realities.

I think we’ll be happier people for it.


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