Life Tip #11

While you’re trying to look like them, they’re trying to look like you.

A New York Times story from 2006 described how Asian women were endangering their health with illegal creams. A survey in the story showed that four of every ten women in major Asian countries (Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan) use various skin-whitening creams.

The story piqued my interest because I had noticed similar behavior in South America in the early ‘90s when I was in the Peace Corps. I saw an unusually large number of women dyeing their naturally black hair blonde, in hopes of appearing more like Americans or Europeans, I suppose. And now there are the K-pop kids out of South Korea, dyeing their hair various shades of blonde or orange. This strikes me as incredibly ironic, because all my life in the U.S., many Caucasian men and women strive to tan their skin for a more exotic look. Meanwhile, the people from those more exotic places strive to look like Caucasians.

Why don’t we want to look like ourselves? The Life Tip here is that very question.

We struggle to drop weight, or we pay people to add “stuff” to various areas of our bodies, all in efforts to look like something different. An entire industry, nay, multiple industries, are dedicated to helping us to look like something else. These appearance industries are quite ingenious. I give kudos to the original con artist who convinced those first ladies that they needed to put stuff on their face to look better, to look different. Convince people they need to look better and different, and then hit them with, “By golly, I happen to have just the thing for you…” Brilliant!

We believe complete strangers on TV or in magazines who tell us that we don’t look good enough. So we expend money, time, effort, stress, and more money on facelifts, gym memberships, exercise equipment, vitamins, supplements, makeup, Botox, weight loss programs, weight gain programs, diet pills, personal trainers, tattoos, piercings, hairstyles, manicures, pedicures, shaving accessories, face creams, products to make us look younger, products to make us look older, products to make us look casual, products to make us look professional, designer eyeglasses, colored contact lenses, breast enhancement, butt enhancement, varicose vein removal, sun-in for hair, and tanning products and services. The list goes on and on and on—all stemming from a fabricated need. Some of it makes sense, like the products and services that improve our health (e.g., weight loss), but everything else is just a fabricated need.

We get caught up in what they tell us we need. Media and marketing wizards define what we need to look like, and like sheep, we fall in line to let them slaughter our wallets.

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