Handmade soap taught me the biggest secret about body shame.
Talking with customers, I heard time and again about itchy skin, or oily skin, or dry skin, or acne. I found so many people who are sensitive, or allergic, or just plain frustrated.
But it was they way they talked about skin: they acted like they were revealing a shameful secret.
I couldn't believe it. Time and again, I felt like shaking someone wanting to say, "there is nothing to feel ashamed about!"
The big secret? There is no perfect body. Not one.
Men, women. Curly, straight. Light, dark. Thin, thick. Old, young. Everyone I talked with was different, yet all shared a sad tale of suffering and embarrassment.
My customers taught me a powerful truth: Everybody feels body shame.
This realization left me floored, and asking: Who is left to judge, if we are all the victims? Why are we all hurting ourselves? Wouldn't it be better to let go of this charade?
Shame is a powerful tool of persuasion.
Working in marketing, I know that the best marketing messages fix a customer's problem. Web copy that describes the product? Nope. You want web copy that solves the customer's problem - especially if emotion is involved.
Unfortunately, in the beauty and body care industry I'm part of, "the problem" isn't very clear. In other industries like accounting or lawn care, the problem is easier to pinpoint, but "beauty" is vast and ever-changing.
Shame is a very powerful form of judgement and persuasion, making it a potent sales tool. Shame can turn any small issue into a powerful, personal, and immediate problem. Shame turns normal teeth into not-white-enough teeth.
I believe shame is a cornerstone of the beauty industry.
If you watch any TV at all, you'll see beauty linked to happiness and success:
Want to nail that job interview? Whiten your teeth!
Want to attract the man of your dreams? Wear perfume!
Want that job promotion? Dye your grey away!
And on, and on, and on.
But come on: How many people actually hire employees or marry life partners based on teeth whiteness? Body judgement doesn't happen in real life the way it does on TV.
Yet we feel deep embarrassment for body "problems" like acne or pores.
We buy product after product believing we must fix beauty problems like skin tone, teeth color, eyelash length, pore size, hair color, lip plumpness.... you name the body part, it has a problem -- on TV commercials, anyway.
For those of us struggling with self-esteem, shame is a merciless demon of oppression. Shame steals more happiness than any product can give.
Body shame is a legal weapon, advertisers are well-armed, and we are all targets.
This is why I'm writing this insanely long blog post...I want to let you know, dear customer and reader, that you are not a pansy.
The only one really judging you? A TV commercial. It's manipulating you into buying another fake solution to your fake problem.
It's just b*llsh*t. And you don't have to accept it.
The moment you call BS on body-shaming advertising is the moment you are free.
Feel proud of your acne scars: they make you storied and exceptional.
Feel gratitude of your oily skin: it keeps your skin soft and supple.
Feel gratitude for your pores: they detox your body, clearing harmful toxins and keeping you healthier.
I'm part of the beauty industry, but I'm not pansy, either. As small business, I can use my megaphone for better things. So I'm using mine to call BS on body shame, and offer something better.
I promise never to shame you.
Beauty products don't have to deal in shame to make you happier and healthier! The problems we help fix are real: like day-to-day stress, or dry skin, sensitive skin, chem-laden skincare, undue body odor, or an un-pampering shower experience.
Bath and beauty should focus on our real life needs and worries - never on unrealistic expectations.
I hope this blog inspires you to appreciate that you are, really truly, an amazing human being. You're unique in your DNA, biochemistry, brain structure, bone structure. We all are. Every one of us. So, let's just accept that we're all different, and move on to a better topic, OK?
So be you, and love you. I promise to do the same.
And next time you feel pressured into solving a "problem" you didn't know you had, call b*llsh*t on it and share this story.
Let's ban body shaming as an advertising technique. Let's raise the bar for the people's beauty.
Feel free to email me at Hello@PeoplesSoap.com or follow me @PeoplesSoap on social media.