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Keeping Up Appearances

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ROLE MODELS: Image rules… not ok

So what do you think about the picture I stuck at the top of this week’s piece?
Yeah, I like it too and I figure it might entice a few more pager-turners to pause at the business section and possibly even read my blurb, but I also find the photo disturbing.
It bugs me that I know the lady pictured on the right is model and TV presenter Tyra Banks and the one on the left is one of the contestants on her programme America’s Next Top Model; it bugs me that my country of birth churns out such crap and that the rest of the world seems happy to watch it; it bugs me that my teenage daughters tune into the show – that’s the only reason I know about Tyra… really, no kidding, it is – and it bugs me that an awful lot of people seem to care about the competitors, many of whom are either bitchy or intellectually challenged or both, just because they look good in fancy clothes and a liberal dose of make-up.

Oh my God, I don’t believe I just said that.  Oh my God.
Ah, that was fun, and if nothing else it should establish that I’m qualified to comment on bitchy.  Anyway, there is a point here and it has to do with the thing that disturbs me most about that photo and shows like ANTM.  Here it is:
When we let Tyra Banks, Hollywood, Madison Avenue, Cosmopolitan, Drum or anybody or anything else tell us what we are supposed to look like we risk giving up a great deal more than just the opportunity to be different; we risk giving up our freedom.
Yeah, I know that sounds a bit extreme but it can cost a great deal of money to be fashionable these days and many people feel they need the right clothes, the right shoes, the right car and maybe even the right house long before they can afford to pay for all those things… so they pull out the credit card or take out a loan and kiss their financial freedom good-bye; and once your financial freedom goes many of the other ones do as well.

I mean how many truly free people do you know; people who are not worried about how their words and actions will affect their income?  Not many, I’ll bet. Interestingly, that’s just not the way our ‘free’ market western societies work.
Personal debt is sold as a good thing – it is good for business owners and the economy in general for workers to need to hold onto their jobs so the bank won’t take away their cars and homes – but personal debt is not a good thing for you unless you are going to use the borrowed money to create an asset that eventually will turn a profit.
So there we have it; instant gratification, high fashion, debt and fear of loosing your job on the one hand or delayed gratification, financial freedom and the option of always doing what you think is right on the other.
Okay, it’s not quite as black and white as that, but I think you get the picture.