Children and the Beauty Industry
Someone I know was very keen on getting his children featured in advertisements. His daughter who is 5 was chosen coz she is very cute and he took her for a shoot.
I was rather surprised because I remember these were not things encouraged by most parents because of a variety of reasons. For one, this is the first step in getting your child an ego boost because they will be seen on TV, on hoardings, print ads etc. This leads to attention at school, from other parents and gives a false sense of importance to the child. They get used to attention for merely being ‘cute’ and ‘famous’. But famous for what? Is it an achievement to be the chosen look of an ad? What of intelligence, kindness, good morals etc? But those things don’t feature in the marketing driven beauty and ad industry. It’s looking for a face but not substance. So kids who start off in this industry get used to attention based on something substanceless. And like all things in the beauty industry – the trends, looks etc. change. And hey nature happens – the kid grows up and is no longer ‘cute’. Then what? All this time the kid’s sense of worth was bolstered on his or her looks alone. And that look is not forever. It changes. But their ego and sense of worth now has nothing to hold it up. So then the kids start looking for other ways to get that attention – to reassure themselves of their importance in the lives of people as depicted through the lens of a camera. So attention at any cost. And hence starts the problems. Not all kids who feature in ads end up with self confidence issues. But many do and the industry promotes this.
The beauty industry thrives on insecurities. If you are dark, use fair & lovely. If you are fat, take a supplement, go to the gym to lose weight. If you have frizzy hair, tame it. If you have dark circles, use a whitening patch. If you are pale, use a bronzing lotion or get an artificial tan. If you have short lashes, use volumising mascara or wear fake lashes,if you are this do blah blah blah and the bloody list goes on. You will never be perfect. You will never reach that ultimate goal. NO ONE is ever gonna be “that”. And that is precisely how the industry makes money. Coz we are chasing utopia. We are chasing a shapeless phantom notion of beauty and it is doing nobody any good except the marketing and sales departments of all beauty enhancing products. Look at how the notion of beauty has evolved over the years – Elizabeth Taylor to Marily Monroe, Twiggy, Kate Moss, Angelina Jolie, Aishwarya Rai, Beyonce, Deepika Padukone – how diverse are these looks? In Sri Lanka – Rukmani Devi, Ramani Bartholomeusz, Swarna Mallawarachchi, Rosy Senanayake, Jacqueline Fernandez, Pooja Umashankar, Sabrina Herft – how diverse does it get? And who decides? Who says they are the best? No one. Just a frigging marketing campaign. Most are just faces. Not human beings. An image created to sell.
Is this the world you want your kids to be a part of? Utopian beauty which they will never achieve? A half baked existence based on insecurities? People have enough issues to deal with. Children grow up with numerous challenges anyway. Why add to their trauma? The industry will thrive as long as we feed it with our insecurities. Let’s not feed it our children as well.
*Article was first published in FemAsia magazine.