The other day, I found myself in the comfy, upholstered rocking chair in my room, snuggled under a blanket with a book from the library that needed to be returned the next day. I was trying to power through the final few chapters and a cup of Earl Grey tea sat next to me on my dresser as I read. My Pandora Classical Piano station played softly in the background, making the scene feel even more idyllic.
Pandora is a lovely invention, and one that I take advantage of quite often when reading, writing or working. However, they do seem to have a knack for interrupting my contented enjoyment of Mozart (or Michael Buble, depends on the day) at just the wrong moment with one of their peppy, just-a-little-too-loud ads that disrupts my peaceful moment. If only there was a thumbs-down button for the ads as well as the songs, right?
I’ve got to give Pandora credit, though: I don’t remember giving them much information when I signed up except for my gender and email, but they have an uncanny way of targeting ads that are just close enough to my interests to make me wonder how they know me so well. A few weeks ago, an ad played repeatedly throughout my day for a bridal show going on that weekend that I had just attended the day before. Pandora knows I’m engaged?? It was a little creepy, I’ll be honest.
I’m sure Pandora doesn’t actually know that much about the details of my life, (hopefully?) but it’s amazing sometimes how they seem to hone in on just the right ads for my demographic.
Back to the other day, though. I was enjoying my book and the sound of gentle piano music coming from my speakers, when the sonata ended abruptly and a perky female voice came on and asked,
“Ladies, now that the holidays are over, it’s time to start thinking about yourself… Have you been considering a tummy tuck, breast augmentation, or other cosmetic procedure? St Louis Cosmetic Surgery wants to make this your BEST YEAR EVER! For a limited time, save 15% on any surgical procedure. Some restrictions apply. Call today to set up your consultation at St Louis Cosmetic Surgery!…”
Now, I know that plastic surgery is becoming more and more normal for women these days, and I’m not trying to get on a soapbox about that right now. But what caught my attention about this particular ad was the connection being made between the perfect body and the best year of your life. Did you catch that?
“St Louis Cosmetic Surgery wants to make this your BEST YEAR EVER!!”
Do you see the subtle – but certain – assertion being made?
Ladies, if you just get that nose job, tummy tuck, or breast augmentation that you’ve been longing for, then this year is going to be your BEST ONE YET. No matter what happens, if you get this surgery, your year is guaranteed to be AMAZING!!
Wow, that’s a pretty big claim, in my opinion.
What about all the tough, heartbreaking things that could happen in 2014?
Getting laid off from a job
Grieving the death of a family member
Dealing with financial instability and debt
Trying to make a stressful marriage better
A falling out with a close friend
Dealing with infertility
Battling serious health problems
Not trying to be a downer here, but there are a LOT of unknowns and uncertainties about the year ahead, for each and every one of us! We don’t know if this is going to be the BEST YEAR YET, and that’s ok. But do you see what this ad is subtly trying to say? They’re not just selling plastic surgery, they’re selling happiness. Peace. Courage. Stability. Comfort. All of the answers to the not-so-great things you or I might face in this coming year.
It’s as if they want us to believe that having the “perfect” nose, tummy, or fill-in-the-blank body part is going to get us through the struggles, heartaches, and agonies that might come at us in 2014. Like somehow when we’re trying to figure out how to make the rent this month or stop fighting with our spouse every day, having had that breast augmentation or liposuction is going to magically make it all better.
And you probably already know what I’m going to say next: it won’t.
You might think I’m taking this Pandora ad waaaay too seriously, but it’s because I believe this is a much bigger problem than one cosmetic surgery clinic trying to sell something they can’t deliver. This is something that’s thrown at us every day from many different angles.
The media, culture, whoever you want to call it, wants women to believe that having the perfect body is the holy grail of happiness. If it’s not plastic surgery, it’s dieting, calorie counting, following a weight loss plan, or some other method. The premise behind it all is the same: having a better body would solve your problems. But it’s not true.
I bought into that lie for several years, and guess where it led me? Um, nowhere. I worked my butt off (literally) trying to get the “perfect body” and fantasized about the day when I would be tiny and skinny and subsequently never have any stress at school, work, relationships and especially the fitting room of Macy’s.
But even when I got there, even when I achieved “the perfect body” I’d been running after, I looked in the mirror and thought, “yes, I finally feel thin and pretty and model-like, but now what?”
Life is still stressful with skinny thighs and toned abs. You still have bad days at work and arguments with the people you love. Losing those “last 5 pounds” doesn’t magically bring you happiness or put you at peace with yourself.
My encouragement to you is this: don’t buy into the lie that happiness is wrapped up in that “ideal body” you’ve envied on magazine covers and Pinterest graphics for far too long.
Those models might have a great body, but it doesn’t mean they’re happy. Happiness is something altogether separate from the way you look or the number you weigh on the scale. Don’t let anyone – even a perky advertisement on Pandora – convince you otherwise.