"Self-esteem isn't everything; it's just that there's nothing without it."
Tired of messages
Tell me to count up my flaws
Oh, but what I wouldn’t give
For just a little bit more
London’s a wonderfully strange beast. I am not ashamed to admit I reside entirely in the cliché of those who leave and then marvel at the Stockholm Syndrome that suggested contentment, living in the dirty throng as long as I did.
A visit to a dear pal took me up there recently; train stations are not the most inviting of welcomes back to the city, full as they are with those who want to be somewhere else. I was struck by the changes to London Bridge station; it’s happening in all the larger stations. Retail units. Long walks between platforms are now brand safaris. With window displays designed to elicit oohs and aahs and to have you leaving transit limbo poorer for a few contactless swipes.
As I obediently followed the arrows from the rail station to the Northern Line, I became aware that the signage seemed to value my appreciating the shops over the efficiency of my journey. Discombobulation abounded as I realised, after walking in a shop-strewn circle, that I had not walked the fastest route to the tube. Damn the powers that negotiate a monetary value to my footfall.
Onto the tube and adverts, everywhere, made me appreciate where I live now; there is so much less corporate excrement flung into my vision. Advertising shits in your head. Nicole Scherzinger caught my eye, or really, her message did. It was, ‘How you look and feel comes from within, having that inner light. Whatever you do, give it your all, and be amazing’. Right on, Nicole. Though I’m not sure putting the bins out gets my ‘all’. This sentiment was, of course, being used to persuade women that ‘inner light’ is fortunately available in supplement form via Perfectil’s Collagen Drinks. So that inner light comes from within, so long as you’ve put the right thing in in the first place.
Adverts aimed at women inhabit a specific shit-spot between treating us like we’re not good enough and also not clever enough to understand that we’re being lied to. Like most 90’s teenagers, I was caught up, for a few years, with Friday nights being about Friends. I occasionally watched it. My parents often did. If I needed a lift somewhere, perhaps to see friends, it had to be before or after Friends. During the height of the hairdo hysteria, Jennifer Aniston did a shampoo advert for L’Oreal, in the middle of which she told all hair-bearing women, ‘here comes the science bit; concentrate’ before the voiceover delivered the requisite nonsense about chemical complexes and quantifiable shine. Her facial expression. Her tone of voice. The condescension. The tacit assumption and acceptance of women’s stupidity galled me then and galls me, even now.
Not only is your hair not shiny enough but you’re not smart enough to understand shampoo science.
Flaws channels some of this fury. When I’m shouting ‘fuck your limiting,’ I really do mean it. My inner light is born of music, words, the sky, my friends; and I’m tired of messages telling me it’s available bottled, for a price. I would urge all people everywhere to embrace what the marketing monsters deem our ‘flaws’. Fuck their limiting.
You’re worth it.