Have you noticed how hard it is to like someone you don't identify with?
Hitler proved it when he change public opinion about Jews. His propaganda machine, headed by Joseph Goebbels, distorted and enlarged pictures of Jewish faces and placed these billboards in prominent public arenas. As non-Jewish people passed these pictures they began to believe the theory that Jews were subhuman and eventually to believe killing a Jew was not the same as killing a human.
Interestingly in Goebbels library were several books by Sigmund Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays who has been called "the father of spin" adapted Freud's ideas to control public opinion in ways he hoped would be more helpful. Read more here.
It was Bernays who figured if you could use propaganda in war, you could certainly use it in peace. Bernays renamed propaganda "public relations" and began playing into people's irrational emotions, teaching them they needed things to be happy. He's responsible for enticing women into seeing smoking as socially acceptable. J. Randolph Hearst employed Bernays to link products to famous movie stars. Watch more in The Century of Self.
Today we see how public relations and marketing creates more to desire than we could ever need. In moving from Whittier to Steamboat, I'm constantly annoyed at how much I've been duped into accumulating.
If most marketing is mere propaganda, how are we as women being trained to desire what we don't need? How hard it is to notice a model on the cover of Victoria Secret's catalogue and say, "How God has blessed her. I'm glad for her beauty." She's there to tempt us to want to look more like her and less like ourselves. Models are chosen because the clothes look better on them. Models are standards for us to note, compare and mold ourselves into. Is this the good life? To model ourselves into the sexy barbie, or the perfect athlete? These models all work as propaganda in our lives.
Last Thursday I volunteered for a modeling show. My friend and I had our eyes lids glued with false eyelashes, my face already had a base primer of foundation. We got more blush and eyeshadow and mascara on top. We wore outfits that were not exactly fitted for out bodies. We looked fun, attractive, interesting, eye-catching, but it really wasn't us.
There are clothes and make-up that fit me and there are clothes and make-up that are only me playing a part.
We had fun, helping the cause, hanging out with other women. But as I stepped boldly down the catwalk, wearing 5 inch heels that were killing my feet, that I never wear because they squeeze my feet, I wondered at the way I was contributing to the problem.
Women could love one another better if we dressed in clothes that suit us, that neither minimize or enlarge what we have, that are fit to the occasion, vocation and environment we are in. We would be more human if we let our clothes fit us rather than making our bodies fit out clothes.
The propaganda machine grinds forward, but we don't have to power it anymore.