Monday, October 16, 2006

Getting Real

The conversation started with this post on one of my message boards about Dove's Real Women campaign.

First, visit this site and watch the short video: Campaign for Real Beauty. Go ahead, I'll wait for you to come back.

The original poster and I both applauded Dove for having the courage to say out loud and in real life that women are beautiful exactly as they were created. Somehow we have gotten terribly off course when whole generations of young women aspire to an unrealistic and unhealthy concept of beauty which would have us believe that the Creation was defective.

It's but one facet of a flawed gem. We also have perverted God's gift by falling prey to overspending and excessive consumerism. In this regard I am a member of the "anti-bling" brigade.

More and more people are spending more money than they have to buy more things that they don't need. They have a sense of entitlement for the brightest and best. How sad that we as a society have been distracted from our real lives by bright, shiny objects. Just like a mina bird.

A lot of people are so caught up in the lifestyle of possessions that they fail to pay their bills, run up enormous credit card debt, have charge-offs and bankruptcies and fail to provide for their children's needs. It is that kind of obsessive consumerism I am against. It is unneccessary, destructive and irresponsible.

That type of consumerism is indicative of deeper problems, not the least of which is a damaged self esteem.

A lot of people are criticizing the Dove campaign. One point they have made is that "commoditizing" sex still sells products, and "commoditizing" self esteem sells soap.

I was stunned to return to the post three hours later. Nearly 100 posts had been added, criticizing the Dove campaign and criticizing me and my stance on extreme consumerism.

It's hard -- no, impossible -- for me to understand defending a lifestyle in which people routinely pay $200 or more on jeans, buy diamonds because they are bigger than the last diamonds they bought, and spend $800 a month or more just to eat out. Oh, especially if the rent goes unpaid and they have a long history of delinquent payments and charge-offs.

That life seems so empty to me.

I grew up poor, as did most of my friends. Since then, however, one of those friends became incredibly wealthy. Our life views are so vastly different now that we have a hard time finding any common ground now. I have a hard time "getting" her lifestyle now.

So I want to know what you, my readers, think. Where do you come down on the scale of consumerism?

How about your stance on the Dove campaign? Is it a good beginning in affirming real women and real girls, or a clever sales campaign? Is it both? Does the fact that Dove is a business change the value of this campaign?


Trixie said...

I really love the Dove campaign and honestly don't care if they are also selling soap. It's good soap by the way. But who cares. I just really like the concept - just as I appreciate the Madrid Fashion Week people for considering more healthly looking runway models. Nice going. Yes, it's trendy but it isn't THAT trendy.

On the issue of consumerism, I am an utter freak about debt. We have none. Cash is the order of the day. I downsized alot in DC and learned just how much "stuff" we had. We have less now. Everything is in use except the craft stuff which sits idle waiting on me. I am about to donate some old clothes which have been around forever but I won't be replacing them. This is the key. When you dispose of something - don't rush out an then replace it. Try to live without it first.
When we were newly married, one of our cars died and we shared a car for almost six months maybe longer. It wasn't convenient, no. However we did see more of each other...and saved a few $!

My sister is much more of a diehard anti-consumer. She will use something long after most other people have given it the heave-ho. This isn't always a good thing but it isn't always a bad thing either. She is very practical and has saved a b-zillion $ this way. I envy the fact that they probably have millions of dollars socked away somewhere. Due to our late start in life, our college loans and several expensive moves, we haven't done nearly as well in the saving department. We keep trying though...but we are a long way from being as good as we need to be...

Anonymous said...

When it comes to the Dove campaign--who cares if they are selling soap if the message is getting out to girls/women who don't have a positive influence in their lives. I've never wanted to be the skinniest or the tallest or the most beautiful. I just wanted to be me. I have my parents to thank for that.

Oh, consumerism. . . without it our world doesn't function well, does it? We can't become a global community striving for peace so we can sell more things to more people in safety.

However, going to extremes with anything is deleterious. We use a credit card, but pay it off each month. We buy what we need. My husband isn't into luxury items--we always find something better to do with the money--like saving it. My mother suggested that we needed a flat screen tv in one of our rooms. My response was, "But we could do so much more with that money!"

My son wears clothes that were given to me by friends. My second daughter wears the hand me downs from her sister. I refuse to buy those Crocs for my children because they are fashionable.

As with many things, Americans can go over the top. Our consumerism is one of those over the top things.

Trixie said...

Oh Sarabeth, your post reminded me of one of the joys of my childhood. I was the happy recipient of hand-me-downs from any number of cousins and family friends. It seemed like almost every time we went to visit a family with an older girl, I came home with big brown paper sacks full of new clothes. I loved that so much because I always idolized the older girls, and the thought of having something of theirs was great!

Of course my family really appreciated it too, as our budget was always far beyond stretched.

All these things undoubtedly have contributed to my "anti-bling" stance. I'm glad to see others who agree that sometimes too much is simply too much.

Hmmm. Can you imagine our economy if everyone actually spent within their means? Maybe the drop in consumer debt would make up for some of the items that would go unsold.