Advertising, Nudity and Body Image

 

If you are passing by EDSA, you can entertain yourself by looking at those huge billboards especially when the traffic is bad (which is basically all the time but that is entirely a different subject).  Advertisements of all kinds abound in the said highway, ranging from clothing lines to smart phones.  One sure way of getting attention (as I have observed) is to put up a huge billboard with models with varying degrees of undress, usually women.   Our generation has become so used to nudity that it doesn’t bother us anymore not that I am being prudish or irrationally conservative but my point is why do we have to advertise certain products that way?  Come to think of it, do you really have to show a person in his/her underwear in order to sell?  (For most, the answer is probably yes)  Have they run out of ideas to promote this clothing products aside from showing models in different state of undress?

What kind of message does this type of advertisements is trying to send across its audience?   That you have to be skinny and or have to have sculpted abs in order to look good in your undies.  This is more than just about modesty for me; there is also the issue of body image.  Young girls think that looking beautiful in the conventional way is so important that they starve themselves and practice self induce vomiting just so they can stay thin or lose weight.

media and body image

Women in skimpy clothing on “male” products advertisements also bothers the feminist in me.   It’s like they cannot promote a male oriented product without a women that seemed to look like an accessory to the product (think of an alcoholic beverage ad that does not involve a woman in revealing clothes, hard right?) .  It also seemed to be sending a message that says “get the product, get the girl”.

While I  am fully aware that it is the consumers choice whether to buy a product based on the content of its advertisements, marketers still hold a huge responsibility in the way they promote a product.  To be fair, there are also advertisements that have made positive impact on the society.

I wish marketing industry also try to sell their ideas in more creative and unconventional way.   It would be amazing to see an ad that does not only focus on the physical beauty but also celebrates inner beauty and confidence that comes from being comfortable in your own skin.

advertising

The advertising industry has some of the most creative minds in the world, I am sure they can find number of ways to promote a product without abandoning decency and morality.

David vs Goliath

 

They say that competition among businesses benefits the customers the most.  Due to competition companies will try to one up each other by offering better products and reasonable prices.  So it’s a good sign when you have numerous options to choose from.

But is the competition in our local market really happening or is it only the big corporation who are dominating and winning?  Take quick service restaurants for instance, there are numbers of fast food chains in the country and many of them are locally owned but upon closer inspection, you will notice that most of the chains are owned by one large group of company.  There is also instances where a huge food corporation acquire its close competitor.  The corporation was probably thinking; if you can’t beat them, acquire them.

sme

Practices like this made question the authenticity of competition in the marketplace in our country and whether the SMEs are being protected by the existing laws.  Do small companies stand a chance against the giants?  The story of David and Goliath came to my mind and unlike in the story in the bible, SMEs don’t have to beat huge corporations, they just have to be able to withstand the competition and survive.

I asked myself “As a consumer, is there anything I can do about this?”  This made me realize that if I want to be a responsible consumer I really need to know more about the companies that I am patronizing.   Campaigns for consumer education in the country should be galvanized.  Costumers hold so much power in their hands but they are either not aware of it or simply apathetic to do anything at all.  I realized recently that we have to be vigilant with that are going around us be in the government or business.

 

Slaves to technology

Imagine life without computers and internet? Imagine going through your day without your smart phone? I bet you cringe at the thought of living without your trusted smartphone and its amazing apps that make your life so easy. They say that this generation is slave to technology and I agree, we depend so much on our gadgets from communication, to education to entertainment.

But do you know who the real slaves to technology are? The people who make our beloved smartphones. I recently watched this news report on Foxconn , a Chinese factory that makes IT products for US based companies like Apple and Dell, and its inhumane treatment of the workers.

According to the report the workers in the said factory work up to 35 hours per shift, no bathroom breaks for 12 hour shift, receiving 31 cents an hour for salary and live in cramped dorm room with 8 to 10 people, and will go to jail with 12 years prison sentence if they try to form a union. The working conditions are the so bad that thousands of employees commit suicide by jumping off the building.  Guess what intervention FoxConn made? They installed yellow nets to prevent the jumpers from dying. Wow.

This news shook me to the core. Here I am enjoying my smart phone and all the convenience it brings while somewhere in this world a person is making one under harsh working conditions.  How come I didn’t know about this before? Are the companies so good in keeping it a secret? Or am I simply oblivious to what is happening around me?  This news made me question not only the unethical practices of  companies that made huge profits out of other people’s suffering but also my responsibility as a consumer. I am aware that as a customer I am one of the company’s stakeholders because their decisions affect me.  I always thought that as a customer the company is accountable to me but it never crossed my mind that the decision I make as a buyer has ethical issues to be considered too.  As a consumer it is my responsibility to make sure that I only buy products or pay for services from companies that practice good corporate governance.  As one of the stakeholders I have the power over corporations and if see a business practice that violates human rights I have the responsibility to let the company know that I am aware of what they are doing and if they don’t change their disgusting practices I will boycott their products and encourage others to do so until such time that they make responsible actions.

Sometimes we forget that we are part of a much bigger society and that our actions affect people even from across the globe. We tend to remove ourselves from the rest of the world and act as if we exist independently. We also don’t realize the power we have to create change and the responsibility that comes with that power. We have to stop living like this. We have to stand up against corporate greed and make our voices heard.

http://www.nbcnews.co/video/dylan-ratigan-show/39085351#39085351

 

Anatomy of a Life Cycle

In Levinson’s Anatomy of a Life Cycle (1978), life cycle evolves through the sequence of eras (time of life) each lasting roughly 2 year and overlap partially. Each era is distinct and has its own qualities. Following said life cycle, I am in the Early Adult Era, (17-45 years old)

There are two major tasks under this life cycle; first is to separate from the family of origin and second is to form a basis of living in the adult world before becoming fully part of it. While this framework applies to almost every person in the planet it is important to note that this is more applicable in the Western setting. Take the first major task for example, in the US it is expected that a person will move out of her/his family’s home when she/he turns eighteen. Here in our country, a person usually lives with her/his family until they get married. Also, in our country the 2nd major task usually happens before the first. Traditionally, after we finish studying, we find job first and leave the nest when we are financially stable or got married.

This era is also considered to be the most dramatic and stressful of all eras and I totally agree with this. This is where majority of life’s greatest turn-overs and biggest decisions happen. In this era, we transition from adolescence to adulthood and we start to build our own identity, establish our place in the society, and make decisions that will permanently change our lives like choosing a career and starting a family. This era is also the where we reach the peak of our biological function and productivity and close to our highest intellectual capacity. Under this era, we usually become a spouse, a parent and a vital part of the society.

This made me reflect on what am I supposed to achieve and accomplish in this era. I realized that while I am indeed at the most stressful and dramatic stage of my life, I am also not making major transitions in life like moving out from my parent’s home (due to several reasons) or contemplating marriage. Which in turn made me realize that each of us has her/his own journey and we don’t necessarily have to follow the pattern that society has imposed upon us. It is helpful to ponder upon where stage you are in the human life cycle but it is more important that you listen to your heart and follow its desires. We don’t have to conform, we can be as unique and weird as we can be as long as it doesn’t hurt the people around us. I may not fit 100% in the life cycle that I am supposed to be in but it doesn’t mean that I am not doing anything worthy of my time and I still have enough time between this era and the next, so there is no rush.

The ever elusive work-life balance

How do you do it all? How can manage to do so many things and still look like you’re having the time of your life? We often hear those questions thrown to the uber-successful people in the world. Think of Sheryl Sandberg for instance, she is a mother of two, Facebook’s COO, author of the book Lean In and empowers women to take charge of their career and personal lives.

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These type people motivate me. They are inspiring because despite the fact that they are busy with their personal and professional lives they are still able to do something for others, something that will benefit the world. I aspire to be like them too (I don’t have to be CEO of a multi-billion corporation), to be able to excel in all aspects of my life while impacting the lives of others (in a good way). So I would tell myself to focus and work as hard (or probably twice) as they do and manage my time well. The question is: How do I attain the ever elusive work-life balance we are all aspiring for?

When I decided to pursue MBA, I know it will not be easy. My job itself was already taking so much of time so taking a graduate degree proved to be one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. To be frank, I would sometimes feel overwhelmed by my work and studies and I feel burned-out. While I have no problem separating one from the other, there would be instances where I am forced to choose between staying late at the office to catch with paper works or go home early to start on my growing pile of school works. There was even this one time that I was tired both physically and mentally, I found myself asking “What the heck am I doing with my life. Why do I have to do all of these?” Then I would remind myself that I love what I am doing and it is just the exhaustion talking and I will be fine after a good night’s sleep.

stress

To counter fatigue and stress I read a lot, pray regularly and dedicate a day for my “ME time”. Reading is my magic carpet, my rabbit’s hole, my time machine. Reading makes me forget the present and be someone and somewhere else. Prayer is my meditation and also serves as a reminder to myself of the things that truly matter. Me time is a day when I unplug both from work and studies; no Wi-Fi, no emails, no social networking sites. The only activity scheduled is going to the church.  I would sleep, read, eat, watch my favorite TV series to my heart’s content.  This is the day when I just I don’t think about work, study or any stuff that grown-ups have to deal with all the time.  You can say that it’s my form of escape from the crazy, complicated world we live in. This is when I emotionally, physically and spiritually cleanse myself.  After that I am good to go and ready for “battle” again.

work

I do other stuff to balance my life aside from those three very reclusive activities. I do have family and friends after all.  I travel from time to time and go out with friends. It’s just that I crave silence after a week of chaos. I love my life and how crazy it can get but to balance it out I need the serenity that solitude brings.

My life is a work in progress and for some it might not appear balanced at all but I love it. I aspire to be a Sheryl Sandberg in my own way someday, but for now I am just enjoying the ride.  My studies challenges me and I take pride in my job.  They make me happy and give me a sense of fulfillment and I think at the end of the day that’s what matters the most.

Beauty with a Conscience

Most of us believe that the main purpose of a business is to earn profit and accept the norm that corporations will go to any lengths to further their business and maximize their profits.  It genuinely pleases me when I read about companies that are socially responsible and willing to forgo higher profit margin in favor of good working conditions, fare wages and protecting the environment.  One local company that makes me proud as a Filipino is Human Nature, leading producer of natural cosmetic and personal care products in the country.

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Human Nature made organic personal care products affordable and accessible to the masses.  When you think of organic and environmentally friendly products, you would automatically associate it with hefty price tag and founders of Gandang Kalikasan Inc. wanted to change that. Their products are made from safe and biodegradable ingredients that are sourced from sustainable materials at fair price.   Human Nature stores also carry several social enterprise brands.  Human Nature’s advocacy, which are pro-Philippines, pro-poor, and pro-environment, are reflected in their products and business practices.

Pro-Poor

I personally use their products and I can attest to the quality of their products. It is liberating to be able to use beauty/body products that will not compromise your health, the environment, dignity of the workers and your budget.

npa-old-banner

It is refreshing to come across business people that genuinely care about the people and the planet. They are the proof that you can earn profit without violating labor laws and damaging the environment. Companies like them make me hope that one day the business landscape will change and being socially responsible will be a common practice in every organization.

 

http://www.philstar.com/business-life/792991/going-natural-human-nature
http://business.inquirer.net/176088/growth-in-sales-here-and-abroad-comes-naturally-to-human-nature
http://humanheartnature.com/buy/

St. John Baptist de la Salle

 

Innovator

Risk taker

Servant Leader

Mentor

These are the words that first came to our mind when we think of St. John Baptist de la Salle.  A wealthy priest who gave up his worldly possessions and canonry in his pursuit of serving the poorest of the poor through education.

He is the patron saint of teacher and rightly so for he has revolutionized the educational system, a system so efficient and effective, it is still being used today.  Back in his day, formal education was only for the rich ones who can afford to hire a tutor.  Being the innovator that he was, he transformed the education in the way that surprised and even angered a lot of people.  His idea of modern teaching is what now we know as the classroom setting, where a group of students learn together and communicate not just with the teacher but also with their classmates.  St. La Salle did not stop at teaching young boys, he was also a pioneer in training teachers and founded reform schools for delinquents.  St. La Salle is indeed a visionary.

 

St. La Salle photo

St. John Baptist de La Salle

When I think of St. La Salle and his selfless act of leaving his comfortable and sheltered life in favor of helping the marginalized, I feel so inspired to do good things even in my own little ways.  If he can do all those things and made a significant change not just in the educational system but in the society as well, then maybe I can contribute something good in this world too.   I can’t even begin to fathom how one could leave it all behind.  He was a man who was so keen on helping and making a change that he gave up not just his wealth but also his family and canonry.  His life story reminded me that even grand dreams that seemed impossible can turn into reality with enough determination and passion.

St. La Salle’s life story has left me with valuable lessons.   He did not just wanted to help the poor, he wanted to equip them with knowledge that in turn will give them better chances in life.  He saw a problem and instead of ignoring it or simply complaining about it, he found ways to solve it.  He was a man beyond his time.  He challenged status quo and fought for what he believe in.   He is a role model to me not just because of what he had accomplished as an educator but also as a leader who lead by example.  St. La Salle also taught me to give people a chance to redeem themselves despite their misdemeanors.  And most of all St. La Salle taught me to never be afraid to follow my dreams despite the lack of support from other people.  The decisions he made in his life weren’t easy.  He even risk his livelihood and very life in his quest to serving the poorest of the poor.  His is what I call a full and well-lived life.

St. La Salle inspires me to become better person.  I don’t have to be one like him, not that I can be like him.  St. La Salle makes me want to share something to the world.  It doesn’t have to be monetary, it can be my talent, skill or time.  He was innovative and made me want to think of ways to help this world become a better place.

Like St. La Salle I value education.  I strongly believe that education is one of the ways to bring people out of poverty and despair.  I hope to build an institution that will not only promote education but also make education accessible to all.  I had this dream of supporting just one student to finish college.  My only condition is that after he/she finished school, he/she will have to help another person finish school too.  We will build this community that will look after each other.  Enabling each member to follow his/her dreams and become a vital member of the community.