Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Guest Post: Letters to Advertising Campaigns Targeted at Men

I write a lot here about body image, but one aspect of it I could never bring you-- for obvious reasons-- is the male perspective. Lucky for us, my boyfriend, Luke, decided to be so kind as to write a post on just that. I hope this won't be the last time he shares with us.


When Vanessa first invited me to write an article for her blog, I told her to stop bugging me while I was trying to watch porn. Then she showed them to me. No, they weren't boobies. They were even better. They were wonderful. Inviting. Warm. Golden. There had to be at least eighteen of them. Given closer inspection, I felt that they were robust and crispy on the perimeter, but oh so soft and tender in the center. Ladies and gentlemen, I am speaking of freshly baked Betty CrockerTM peanut butter cookies. Given this incentive, I just HAD to oblige Vanessa's wish.
Okay, so Vanessa actually went home for the weekend to visit her friend and baked me some cookies because she knows my holy trinity consists of the peanut, the butter, and the George Washington Carver. It makes a nice story, though, right?

Anyways, without further ado...

Dear Fitness Advertising Campaigns Targeted Towards Men:

I'm a young, American male. I'm twenty years old. I'm a full time college student. I'm in a relationship. I have a shitty part-time job at a department store. My name is Lucas. No, you do not have permission to call me that. Not anymore. To you, I'm Mr. Educated Consumer, J.D. (...expected 2014).

I remember you. How could I not? You're everywhere. You're in the books that I read, on the television programs that I watch, in the video games that I play, and on the food that I eat. Why do you still incessantly follow me around? I don't have the time for you anymore -- I have things to do. But for some reason, you insert yourself into the said things that I have to do.

I must say, it stopped being cute a long time ago. I remember those times, though. They were... well, you know.

I was obsessed with you! I'd learn about you, study you, trust you. You made such beautiful promises to me. You comforted me. I remember spending my early mornings absorbing your wisdom. Remember when you told me that I could be big and strong? That meant the world to me. I could have the body of my dreams: big, hard, muscular, and attractive. And I believed you.

We were going steady at first. I'd exercise every day. I wouldn't do it right or anything, but that didn't matter, because I was just following your advice. I thought it was brilliant. Easy too. I suppose that should've been my first indicator that this relationship was going to crash and burn.

It's probably my fault that we began to drift apart. I guess you could call it infidelity. You gave me the motivation that I needed, albeit for the wrong reasons, to conduct research of my own. It must've made you jealous, because that's when you started to stalk me. Everywhere I'd go, you'd be there. In magazines, on my favorite web sites, on the television. Everywhere, you'd tell me that I could get ripped in days and that it would be so easy. All I'd have to do is buy your products.

Oh. Buy your products, you say? You know, I didn't mind it so much before when you just told me to set an unrealistic goal and participate in a nonsensical “workout routine,” but then you wanted me to buy a product? For how much? Probably for $19.99, plus shipping and handling.

This was a problem, but the straw that broke the camel's back was definitely when you started telling me to take drugs. You don't remember? Those “nutrition supplements” that you told me about? The ones that'd totally help me shed fat and reveal my already amazing muscles that you helped me to build with your less-than-perfect workout routine? The ones that aren't FDA regulated? Yeah, those ones. I think that's when I began to see what you were doing.

Your goal was never to help me be what I wanted to be. You didn't even know what I wanted to be. You had your own agenda. And you'd studied me, it seems. You knew what made me tick and you knew my weaknesses. You knew that I had little self confidence. You knew that I was physically small and that that made me feel inadequate. You knew that I was ignorant. So you used these traits to your advantage. You picked me up when I was down and proceeded to lie to me. But that's not even the worst part.

The worst part is that you'd never even told me how many other men you'd been with before. Hundreds? Thousands? Millions?! I don't even know! And you had done the same thing to all of them! You preyed on their vulnerability! You fed their insecurity! Then you just stole from them! It was all about the money. All you ever cared about was my money. You're a filthy gold digger.

I bet you didn't expect me to be smart, though, did you? No. I found out about you long before you could scam me. You may have enticed me, but you never won me over, did you? I didn't fall for your trap. And you know what? I don't need you anymore. No, I learned to love myself. I don't need to be insecure just because you tell me that I am, because you're a liar. You don't want to help me, just bring me down and steal from me. I bettered myself. I learned to pursue self improvement in a constructive way that doesn't aim to damage my self esteem. That's more than can be said for you.

So, having said all this, I just have to say... FUCK YOU.

Don't come back,
Mr. Educated Consumer, J.D. (...expected 2014)

What do you think of how men are affected by the media? Do you have any questions for Luke?


Zmaga said...

It's nice to hear a man's perspective and realize we are not so different after all.

Anonymous said...

I think many females don't cut men slack. Advertisers appeal to them the same way they appeal to us. Girls: Be thin, wrinkle-free, be the best at everything, etc. Boys: Be strong and muscular, go after the money, be grey-hair free, etc. Females are so focused on how advertisers treat us we forget how wrong men are treated. It's nice to get a male's perspective!

Vanessa said...

I'm glad you two appreciated hearing a man's perspective! I think we women don't always think about it and just assume it's so much "easier" to be a guy. They face a lot of pressures, too, just different ones.

Leticia said...

It´s kinda weird to see it all from the male side. I´m not a mind reader, but I feel there in the US you men have more pressure on being successful than over here, in Europe. It is not that European males have not ambition, and we still are part of the Western society and, therefore, we live in the same kind of publicity surrounded enviroment, but I guess it´s a social thing. At least when I see the little samples of your society, through movies, books, internet, etc,etc, you do seem to be more worried than us(and, I repeat, we ARE also worried) about that stuff of being "How you are supposed to be"(The "female image issue...that´s another story, much much more alike in all Western society).But, of course, this is my impression and I could be absolutely wrong, as I don´t live there. Anyway, it was really instructive and nice to know there are also strong minded individuals fighting to be themselves.

Jem said...

It is so nice to read a man's perspective on this issue, it makes me realize that it is not only girls who feel pressure from the media/advertising. :)

Vampires and Tofu said...

Great post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts =)

Lucas said...

I probably should've appended the article with "there are plenty of good resources that DON'T aim to scam you, too." But my overarching message was that yes, for a lot of men -- but I won't say "all" men -- there are plenty of ludicrous image standards, too.

Some aren't even true. I hear that not all women love men with six-pack abs. Damn you and your lies, Bowflex!

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