I’d like to take a moment to point out just how ridiculous the beauty industry is getting. ABC Health says it best in the quote that, I wish was tongue-in-cheek:
“While you were busy worrying about “muffin-topping” over the waistband of your jeans or the “cottage cheese” on your thighs, you should have been fretting over the shapeliness of your ankles. A growing number of Americans are working to eliminate unwanted ankle fat. “Cankles,” or less-than-svelte ankles, are the thunder thighs of the new millennium.”
The ABC cankles expose goes on to read even more like an article from the Onion (I wish it were there instead so I could laugh instead of feeling awfully annoyed) than a real news piece, as it explains how women are going to extremes to fight their cankles:
Many women are simply predisposed to excess leg and ankle fat and no amount of step aerobics or ballet can make a real dent. For those who simply must have a slender ankle, there’s always the surgeon’s knife.
Christina Reggie is one of those women, and she turned to surgery six weeks ago after years of emotional distress caused by her cankles.
She didn’t like the way they looked. “I thought I was deformed,” said Reggie. “No matter how much I’d try to get smaller, there’d still be that fat on the outside.”
Really, I mean… really? The fact that this is not satire is downright depressing. As if people have not been given enough appearance-related worries now even our ankles can be found lacking… is there anything even left for the beauty-industry to target next? Of course there is.
As if having the whole month of July devoted to “cankles awareness” (as conceived & promoted by Gold’s Gym) is not ridiculous enough… from the creators of Botox comes Latisse: “the first FDA-approved prescription treatment for inadequate or not enough eyelashes, growing them longer, fuller and darker.” For when simply making use of mascara alone just isn’t enough.
True, it may cost 120$ a month, and cause redness, itchyness, and some potential eyelid-darkening (I’m sure the pill to lighten those eyelids back up will be on the market within a month) to grow your lashes the Latisse way… but isn’t that a small price to pay for the pseudo self-esteem boost that comes along with adding another product to your daily beauty routine? (I suppose I’m making up for the sarcasm that I wish had been present in the ABC Health article here, my apologies!)
What makes this even more depressing than the usual push of unnecessary products and treatments for invented issues is the sheer ridiculousness of these two “issues” and their accompanying products, exercises, and other “cures.” The way these beauty “issues” seem to have sprung up out of nowhere, alongside their accompanying cures, illustrates beautifully that way that this culture of insecurity is bleeding quickly out of the media and into the beauty industry and beyond. These two problem/solution pairs are perfect for one thing, however: they allow me to better illustrate just how much money is generated from your (culturally & mass-media fueled) insecurities:
Pharmaceutical companies make money off of unnecessary drugs like Latisse and Botox aimed to fix invented problems (thin eyelashes?) and mess with normal bodily processes (aging.) These products will do nothing to make the user healthier and, often, they’re actually dangerous to the consumer.
Doctors make money from consultations about these body “issues”, plastic surgery to do away with these “issues”, media appearances to speak out about these “issues” and so on – the doctors that prescribe these medicines and perform these surgeries are making money by cashing in on their patient’s insecurity and putting those patient’s health at risk unnecessarily.
Television networks make money off of the viewers they draw in through “news” exposes about these invented issues and related advertisements that they air on their networks. Often times these two are related, since the network with the programming that best creates insecurity around these “issues” is usually the network that the people selling the related products will want to advertise on.
Magazines & newspapers make money in the same way television stations do – they write articles that create insecurity over various body parts (ankles and eyelashes today, who knows what tomorrow…) which then draw in advertisers for products to “help” these “problem areas.”
Gyms, like Gold’s Gym, gain membership when people see them as the answer to problems like “cankles.” While working out is good, there is still an issue here since people who are drawn to the gym to do away with their cankles – which, as the ABC article explains, often cannot be exercised away… maybe because they’re supposed to be there - are not really worrying about getting healthier, they are worried about looking better. While these motivations may lead to some people getting healthier, they’re also going to lead to many people who over-exercise and under-eat; risking their health for beauty.
Producers of diet pills, “miracle” workout machinery and so on obviously also cash in on our collective insecurity.
Clothing companies & stylists make money in giving advice as to how to dress to camouflage “flaws” like cankles, wider hips, a big butt, and so on…similarly, makeup companies make money off of products that conceal “problem areas” as well.
And on and on and on…
In the end almost all of us are putting money into the pockets of these companies & people, at the expense of our own self esteem. I, for one, am sick of it. So lets do something!
In an effort to fight back against “Cankle Awareness Month” and every other idiotic insecurity-creating scheme to earn money at your and my expense I’d like to declare August Self-Esteem Awareness Month. Go here to see the calendar that details an action for each day. When August rolls around I’ll have blog round-ups of participants, inspiring posts (and guest posts) to keep you going, and more (I’m trying to even get some giveaways together, we’ll see!)
Keep an eye out for all of that and get in touch with me, please, if you have any ideas! (As always, firstname.lastname@example.org)