Recently there’s a series of advertorials on TV lightly disguised as a series of half hourly TV programmes, sponsored by beauty service companies. The series focuses on 3 areas most affecting women (and some men) – hair loss, skin problems and weight and ironically, the title of the programme is something along the lines of “My Confidence”.
I don’t have a problem with such companies advertising their services on TV. What I do have a problem with is the way such blatant advertising is done via a weekly programme. Preceeded by a short skit, the girl or woman (its usually female) with the problem is usually shown being laughed at or ridiculed by strangers, friends and even family.
The case stories are usually quite trite:-
- People purporting to be good friends ignore a girl who has bad acne when they take photos – the friends have flawless skin
- Husband scolds a wife for being fat and unattractive
- Colleagues snigger and poke fun at a girl who has thinning hair
In all cases, the girl in question always ends up a wreck – crying, desperate, in despair and then like a ray of light, hope comes in the form of a beauty service which purports to give you a free trial to cure all your ills and turn you from cygnet to swan.
Free trial sessions are a way to hook you in and can be expensive
A first hand experience of a “free trial” at a slimming salon teaches us that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The services in question are usually very expensive and may in some cases, take you nowhere. Also not everyone can resist the hard-sell of the sales people who, lets face it, are out to make their commission.
The treatments may have worked for the ladies in the case studies but no mention is made of how much they had spent on those treatments, how long it took or whether they had been sponsored by the companies. I’ve been to one of those salons for a free trial (for skincare – its named after the Big Apple 😛 ) and I was quoted a “discounted package price” of RM6,000 for 10 sessions with “free double mask”. When I protested, the price miraculously dropped all the way to RM2,888. Needless to say, I never signed up.
Beauty services that prey on insecurities are unethical
I must confess that I watched some of those advertorials for want of something better and out of morbid curiousity. What struck me as a recurring theme was how desperate these women were portrayed to be and how insecure and brow-beaten they were made to feel by the community at large and even by family.They only purport to regain their confidence after going for the beauty services advertised and turning into a swan after a full makeover.
In one case, a husband who paid no attention to his wife’s pigmentation or melasma had a sudden about turn when he saw another woman having the same condition, making his wife feel awful about how she looked. What was significant to note was that the other woman was happy in the company of her friends and not cowering under the weight of her skin condition thereby showing you can be confident too even if you are battling a skin problem.
These beauty companies know that such insecurities are common among women and they are preying on it, purporting to offer a solution to “restore your confidence” but what they neglect to tell us is how much the solution would cost. This is the part I find unethical. I would be more willing to consider them credible had they mentioned the time taken, and the cost involved to turn such women from what is perceived to be a wreck to a dazzling beauty queen. Also, whether maintenance is required and how often and how much that would cost.
No instant solution except through hard work and education
Of the 3 common insecurities faced by women as depicted by the advertorials, I’ve experienced 2 – I’ve been overweight and I’ve had problem skin. I can tell you from experience that nothing can solve the problem bar hard work – healthy eating and exercise and allowing your hormones to stablize and learning the benefits of proper skincare. If I knew then what I know now about skincare, I might have had less problems! In very serious cases of acne, antibiotics might be the best solution – a good dermatologist though pricey may be a better bet than a facial salon pressing you to buy products that may or may not work. I’m not saying none of the services work – some might, but a lot of the success is attributed to education whether on the merits of eating a balanced healthy diet or having a proper skincare routine.
BUT throughout my weight and skin problems I never had anything but full support and love from my family and friends so I did not have my confidence undermined like the women on TV – perhaps that’s the key; and it saddens me that not only is society behaving such, there are companies that would exploit this on television, making even more women feel insecure about their looks and weight.
TV stations should not allow degrading advertorials
I personally feel that TV stations should exercise their discretion more astutely to NOT allow such blatant advertising thinly disguised as a tv series, especially when a large part of it shows women being degraded for how they look, even if they may be wonderful mothers, sisters, daughters or friends.
It seems to send the message that you will only be loved or have friends if you are thin, clear skinned with a full head of hair. Ironically, in one case, the girl’s boyfriend had been with her from when she had skin problems. Of course he admitted to the interviewer that she looked better with clear skin but the point remains that he saw beyond her superficial beauty to fall in love with her and be her boyfriend when she had bad skin, not after her skin cleared up. And that I feel, is the moral to take away from the show – that someone can love you any way you look and that is the confidence we need, not mere outer beauty.
Have you seen these advertorials on TV? Do you have any thoughts on it or on the degradation of women in such advertorials? Do share any thoughts you may have