Birds display their plumage; so why shouldn’t humans? It’s a natural form of sexual attraction. But when we walk around with advertising on our clothing – from Polo shirts to Louis Vuitton handbags (which I had to look it up to be sure they still make them) – we are buying the appearance of wealth as a means of showing status and sex appeal. In a culture that worships money, paying more for a designer shirt presumably stimulates self-confidence and is more appealing than a plain one.
A listener to my Montreal radio interview last week, Nusrat J. Mirza, wrote me, “…a lot of young people, especially girls and quite a few women as well…spend ridiculous amounts of money to buy and wear expensive brand-name stuff to show they are wealthy.”
She implied that the old adage, “we are what we eat,” could be changed to, “we are what we wear.” The same could be applied to owning televisions and watching brand advertising.
The average American home now has more televisions than people. More than half the homes in the U.S. have three or more. A friend of mine who teaches elementary school in a very poor part of Vermont told me that when she visits families, there is always a TV playing in the background. I suspect this is true for most homes in America.
I have never been attracted to buying designer clothes, and I rarely turn on my 17 year-old, 13″- RCA TV (featured above.) My husband and I generally watch the news on it about 4 times per week and sometimes catch part of “CBS Sunday Morning” after feeding the horses.
I would argue that while designer clothing can be fun as an accessory or a badge of belonging, and a TV is a way of staying connected, they each run the risk of becoming a cover for emptiness. The truest form of belonging is finding connection to community from a place of self-worth within.
I would love to hear your answers to some of the following questions:
1. How do you feel when you wear designer clothing?
2. If you don’t wear it, why don’t you like it?
3. How many TVs do you have in your house and what’s the ratio of TVs to people?
4. How often, or how many hours per day, do you watch it?
5. How do you feel after watching TV, versus talking with a friend?