Friday, May 23, 2014

Manufactured Self Loathing: How It Connects To You

I often find myself on what I like to call, "Google tangents."  Google tangents are when I sit at my computer or laptop and Google anything of interest or that makes me curious.  I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person that does this in today's world of free WiFi and smart phones, so I'm pretty sure you all know how starting one Google search leads to another and another and another, which is why they become "tangents" in my book.  By the end of any one of these, I almost always feel like I've gained a couple bachelor's degrees from learning so much on one subject.  It was on one of these Google tangents that I was recently exposed to the phrase, "manufactured self-loathing."

Pretty self-explanatory, manufactured self-loathing refers to the feelings of inadequacy consumers are often faced with when exposed to advertising.  This can be associated with any product, but the beauty industry is the biggest source of these toxic emotions in my opinion.  If there was no such thing as eye liner, how many women do you honestly think would feel like their eyes were lacking "depth" or weren't "interesting" enough?  If the hair relaxer or flat iron had never been invented, would the majority of women of color still feel that the only "acceptable" way to wear their hair is stick straight?  Without advertisements for skin bleaching creams, how many dark skinned people would actively seek a way to remove layers and layers of pigment?

So how does this concept of manufactured self loathing - advertisers and product manufacturers convincing people they genuinely need their products or services when they don't - have anything to do with the natural hair movement?  Well, I would argue that there would be no need for a natural hair movement in the first place if we had never been convinced to dislike our natural feature of Afro textured hair.  So many of us have been conditioned to automatically dislike or even despise many of our natural features, we don't even question it.  "What are you going to do with that mess on your head?"  "Did you mean for your hair to look like that?"  "Why would you want to have nappy hair?"  We have these hurtful, disrespectful, and thoughtless comments hurled our way so often, all it takes is a quick Google search for "How to deal with natural hair haters," for lists of tips from women who are forced to endure it on a regular basis.  How long are we going to put up with this?  How long are we going bite our tongues when our friends, mothers, sisters, doctors, and television ads tell us we are less than, or not as beautiful as our non black counterparts?

I was inspired to write this post because I'd like to give my readers some food for thought in the hope that a simple message will resonate and be shared so we might see some change in the way we see ourselves.  YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, NATURALLY!  ONLY YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IT TO MAKE IT TRUE!  It doesn't matter what some TV ad said about that new straightening system.  Why do you need to straighten your hair in the first place?  Is there something wrong with how Mother Nature made your curls and kinks?  Personally, I believe every person on the planet was divinely made, so to say there is something wrong with our construction is blasphemous and I'm not even a Christian.  Appreciate your beauty.  Don't fall into the trap of believing there is anything wrong with you that can be fixed with a purchase off a store shelf.  Love ALL of yourself.

With that being said, what do you all think about this topic.  Is manufactured self loathing real, or not something to be concerned about?  Have you realized anything you believe about yourself is a result of this phenomenon?  Leave your thoughts below. :)


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