Julia Roberts, the Airbrush and the Great Deception

I’ve been lied to, deceived. I am distraught.
What do you mean L’Oreal won’t make me look like Julia Roberts?
Does that mean Red Bull won’t give me wings?
Kit Kat won’t give me a break.
Bar One won’t give me a 25 Hour day.
My son’s Omnitrix won’t turn him into an Alien?
What is the world coming to?

The Liberal Democrats (UK) have a proposed a ban on all airbrushed photos in advertising. Read about here.

They also want a label on all ads akin to “smoking kills” to warn those total idiots out there that the image may not be all its cracked up to be. Imagine what they’ll do when they tire of that and get started on Disney. Talking dogs, monsters under the bed, fairy princesses and let’s not forget about the field day they can have on Barbie and Ken.

Here’s my opinion:

If you are dumb enough to believe that that your make-up will literally turn back time and make you look ten years younger, you deserve to have them take $200 of your money and laugh all the way to the bank.

If you have no imagination you never create anything, you’ll just be a mindless little mannequin waiting to die.

I know that no matter what ooze I pour onto my face I’ll never look like Julia Roberts. It’s a basic DNA issue, it’s impossible! If you thought that by using the stuff L-Oreal would wave a magic wand and turn you into a Julia clone, you… you… I have no words for you.

Advertising, movies and brands everywhere have been selling impossible dreams since time began. They are about ideals. I don’t want to see an aging, overweight, balding white man in a Lamborghini. I want to see an impossibly gorgeous, six pack abed, 24 year old Adonis. I don’t care that he can’t afford the car or that the main market are the aforementioned aging mid-life crisis contingent. I want the dream.

If I am wrinkled old crone I want to believe, I need to believe that L-Oreal can make me 19 again. Just like I want to believe that low-fat food will make me slim, or that my bank really does care about me. Most of all I like to pretend that my country isn’t going to run by a total madman in the near future. (JuJu’s 702 interview is on and the man never fails to amaze me with his sheer narcissism, selective memory and total inanity.)

If we are all about truth do we tell our children, “Look darling, the chances of you ever going a rocket to the moon are slim to nothing. You’ll end up in a low paying job in a polyester suit and crippling mortgage and that’s if you are lucky. With the current state of affairs you’ll likely be panhandling on that corner in 5 years.”

Or “Sweetheart, you’re never going to a fairy princes. You’re passably attractive and of average intelligence. Don’t think you going to be the next Greta Garbo or anything, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.”

The fact is that for most of us Julia Roberts isn’t real, she isn’t even a person, she is an ideal, an image to aspire to. I don’t want to know that Princess Catherine wakes up with morning breath and farts. I don’t want to know if she has to wear support underwear or underarm deodorant. She is the living embodiment of every little girl’s dream. Why take that away?

I do think it is horrendous that 5 year olds are suffering from anorexia and far more of them from obesity. I have to say that has nothing to do with advertising and everything to do with poor parenting.

Advertising doesn’t set societal trends, it reflects them.


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