Rehumanizing the Consumer

The Model Alliance tweeted the question: “What are the beauty/fashion industries’ responsibilities to consumers?”

The question contains the very problem we all face in relation to any industry and our culture in general – we are not human. We are not real. We are even more distant than the existential Other, for the Other retains some version of humanity.

To Industry, we are Objects that consume whatever is put before us. We do not question. We see. We want. We die having.

Usually, women are painted as the ultimate victim of objectification but consumerism knows no gender. Men suffer from bizarre, unhealthy and confusing body images just as much as women.  There is a barrage of ‘Hungry Man’ meals that guarantee you a heart attack and clogged arteries by 40. We even have a political party that lauds drinking a six-pack a day.

Industry wants women to die by starvation and men to die by over-indulgence. Either way, we consume.

But we cannot place all of the blame on advertisers. Humanity starts with the individual. It starts with how we live our daily lives and we don’t even see ourselves as humans. To most of us, everything is a product.

Most people who parade around with their yoga mats have never spent a moment of their class chanting or meditating. It’s about the trend, not about the connection.

People attend church and yet walk right past a homeless person begging for food. It’s about how you appear, not how you live.

If we want to break the cycle of dehumanization and consumerism then we must begin treating ourselves as more than purchasers and the things and people with which we interact as more than products.

We need to engage our lives on every level. Being a human is a glorious thing and far too often we shun that glory for the mindless processing of stuff. We should focus on engagement and connection. It is in those things that there is joy and contentment.

Consumerism won’t disappear overnight but the more we strive to be engaged humans the less Industry will see us as mindless objects.

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