Today we are constantly being influenced in visible as well as invisible ways. The current mass consumption culture is focused on constantly wanting to sell. Everything we have and are is “not good enough” anymore. There is always something new, this at the expense of our society, our world (climate) and ourselves. Being satisfied with what you have and who you are does not yield any profit. So we are pushed time and time again to a certain ideal. This ideal may have to do with how rich you are, what things you have, but also who you are and what you look like. This pressure not only makes us dissatisfied with our life or ourselves, but can also have serious consequences such as burnouts or other mental health problems.
It is time for us to be ourselves free of these expectations and influences. With my platform “your scars are beautiful” I want to show that many people have scars both physically and mentally and that these are not something to be ashamed of. Scars are signs of strength. I want to challenge the current beauty ideal and give a diverse representation of beauty and what “normal” is. Every scar has its own story and these stories contribute to who you are. “Your scars are beautiful” stands for being yourself with all your scars! You are who you are!
Below you will find more information about scars & differences, influencing and mental health
Scars and differences are what make you unique! They are beautiful.
Important research on scars and differences
Having scars can have major consequences for your own feelings. A study by Brown et al. (2008) showed that many people with scars were not happy with their scars because of the stigma and psychological associations that accompany it. As a result, the subjects in the study looked for different ways to hide or compensate for their scars. This often had an effect on their social life, communication skills, personal relationships and intimacy (Brown et al. 2008, Ngaage & Agius 2018). Another study by Brown et al. (2010) found that there was a correlation between how visible and severe people found their scar and psychological distress. Persons with a highly visible scar often had a more negative self-image (Fukunshi, 1999; Dyer et al., 2013). But scars that are not immediately visible also cause a lot of psychological distress (Brown et al., 2010). Having a scar is therefore also a mental challenge for people.
Prejudices about people with scars and other differences
People who are rated as “attractive” are more likely to receive help from strangers (Thombs et al., 2008), are treated more positively (Langlois et al., 1972) and are rated more favourable (Thombs et al., 2008). These are just a few examples of the effects of “beauty”. The effect described is also referred to as the halo-effect (Dion et al., 1972). As you can see from this, beauty is very important in our current world and there is little room for being “different”. Having scars or other differences is very stigmatized by this position of beauty (Ngaage & Agius, 2018).
Scars serve as visible evidence of past trauma or illness and can also convey important information about history and personality (Burriss, Rowland & Little, 2009). Scars or other physical differences have generally been seen as either detrimental or harmful (Bull, 1979). It is important to mention that in (former) non-Western society scars are often seen as medals and that whole rituals are held in which scars are deliberately applied (Ludovico & Kurland, 1995; Singh & Bronstad, 1997). In addition to the Western world, scars are often seen as signs of violence and risky behaviour (Burriss, Rowland & Little, 2009). Finally, scars are often used as indicators of abomination and horror (Ngaage & Agius, 2018). People with scars or other differences often have to deal with many questions, being stared at (Connell et al., 2014) and sometimes also being avoided by strangers more often (Furr, 2014).
Movies and physical differences
In (horror) films, religious images and fairy tales, scars and other physical differences are often used as a sign for evil (Ngaage & Agius, 2018). Just think of The Joker, Anne Hathaway in The Witches or Scar from The Lion King. Using these features to portray evil has been going on for a long time. In addition, these differences were often used as a form of entertainment. In ancient Rome, Emperor Augustus often used characters with a
(physical) disability as personal entertainment (Hanton, 2020). Today there are still many filmmakers, writers and artists who use these physical features as indicators. Unfortunately, these indicators are often used in children’s movies and stories that allow children to grow up believing that being “different” is bad.
Many people with differences have to deal with prejudices or unpleasant circumstances because of this representation in the media. It is time for us to replace these indicators. Having scars or other differences does not mean you are bad or evil, but unfortunately this link is unconsciously formed that way.
Attraction and attractiveness are determined, among other things, by physical characteristics. Having a visible scar has a proven effect on attraction. Research by Bull (1979) showed that persons with scars were valued less attractive and more unreliable. A similar study by Bull and David (1986) also showed that individuals with scars were considered less attractive regardless of ethnicity. These two studies have a number of limitations, which makes results questionable. A later study by Burris, Rowland and Little (2009) shows that men with scars are valued as more attractive to having short relationships with, but this is not the case for long relationships. Women appeared not to be valued differently. A small side note is that scars are often perceived as signs of masculinity and masculinity in women is valued as less attractive (Perrett et al., 1998), so it may still play a role. Having scars plays a role in the appreciation of attractiveness, but to what extent is still unclear.
What can you do?
- Treat each other with respect and see each other’s differences as strengths
- For Halloween or Mardi Gras, never dress up as a condition, but as a character
- Do not use scars or differences as an indicator for certain characteristics
- Do not avoid people that have differences
- You can ask questions, but do so with respect
Influencing is everywhere.
Read more about certain marketing techniques, social media and some interesting facts below.
On this page you can find more information about 3 types of marketing and influencing that I want to bring to your attention. More techniques will be added in the future. In addition, information can be found about social media and there are two good examples that illustrate far-reaching influence.
Emotion and emotional attraction are important parts of influencing and marketing. Much research has already been done into the use of emotion and how humans process these components. The use of emotion has been proven to be effective. For example, it has a positive effect on the ability to remember certain advertisements (Metha & Purvis, 2006). Different kinds of emotions can be used. For example, “fear” is an important tool in anti-smoking advertising, and “sex appeal” is frequently used for brands such as AXE. Humour is also a big part of many commercials, everyone remembers when something funny was used and maybe even shared it with friends. Even the puppies in the Page toilet paper commercials are there for a reason.
There are also many commercials that sell “the perfect picture”. A product that makes your dream come true. Consider an advertisement for a supermarket where a whole family is enjoying a meal together. This advertisement does not only want to promote the supermarket but also unconsciously makes the link between a happy family and the supermarket in question. Not everything is as it seems and try to see through this when seeing such messages.
The decoy effect, is an important marketing trick in which a new option is added that makes an earlier option more attractive. The “decoy” often ensures that consumers ultimately go for a more expensive option that they actually did not want before. To illustrate this I will use an example*: There is a choice between two subscriptions to the newspaper AD: a digital subscription of 140 euros and a paper & digital subscription for 300 euros. In this case, the choice is often made quickly and the digital subscription is chosen. This changes when an option is added to this. If the choice consists of: a digital subscription for 140 euros, a paper subscription for 300 euros and a paper & digital subscription for 300 euros, the latter, more expensive option is chosen much more often.
*Example form Consumentenpsycholoog (2016) and Ariely (2008)
Data based marketing
Data about consumers is constantly being collected. From preferences to needs and from search history to how long you look at certain products. All data that consumers leave behind is used by sellers to create the ideal advertising specifically aimed at target groups or even specifically aimed at you as a person. The promotion of services or products equals the ones exactly you are looking for. Of course this can have advantages. This way, you might spend less time looking for products or information that suit your taste. But this can also be a significant invasion of your privacy and perhaps even in the extreme of your free will. For example, by frequently showing the same products, a need may be created within you to have these products, services or certain ideals. Ultimately, there is a chance that you will buy this product and there is a good chance that you will ultimately think that you have done this because you really want it, when actually this need has been created by marketing strategies.
Social media platforms are very important platforms in marketing and influencing today. The number of so-called “influencers” is still rising sharply. These influencers are therefore frequently used by companies to sell products and services. Research has actually proven that using celebrities on platforms such as Instagram leads to a brand appearing more trustworthy and being valued more positively (Jin, Muqaddam & Ryu, 2019). But even if they don’t actively advertise, they still influence us.
On platforms such as Instagram, many influencers show the “perfect” life. They take beautiful photos, always do the coolest things and have no worries. Unfortunately, these influencers only show the posed and fully controlled side of their lives. However, the truth is that much of what you see on social media is not real. The happiest couple argues every day, the perfect body can only be seen from the most favourable angle and the bad days exist only offline. It is important that we are aware of the influencing and constantly realise that what is presented online is absolutely not real life.
Fortunately, there are also a number of influencers who oppose this and show what kinds of techniques are used to come across as being as perfect as possible.
Examples of far-fetching influencing
The supermarket is a good example of a place where we are constantly influenced. A number of these tactics are now known to the public, but unfortunately we are not aware of a number of them. Supermarkets are an incredibly controlled environment, in which almost everything is done for a reason.
- The layout of a supermarket is completely determined. For example, vegetables (healthy products) are often placed at the forefront because they generally have a better image for the supermarket and because you are more inclined to buy unhealthy products at the end when you already have the healthy products in your basket.
- The smell of fresh bread often does not come from the bakery, but is artificially manufactured and distributed throughout the store.
- There is almost never a clock in the supermarket, so that people spend longer in the supermarket on average.
- The most important or best-known products are often in the middle of an aisle so that consumers have to walk into the aisle
- Most A-brands are often at eye level (although the private label is also increasingly used here). Certain products are also often at child’s eye height.
- The music that the supermarket plays also influences purchasing behaviour.
- Even the use of colour in the supermarket is designed to tempt you as a consumer as much as possible.
The American store Target was able to use their data analysis to determine whether female customers were pregnant or not based on the purchasing behaviour of these women. They saw multiple purchase patterns for pregnant women. The store has used this information for more targeted advertising.
There are a number of times in life when fixed patterns of buying behaviour and shopping preference disappear. This is, for example, when you are going to live on your own, but also when you become a new parent. The target group of pregnant women is therefore a very important group. When actively advertised for this, a store can win many new loyal customers.
When the news came out that the retail chain was keeping an eye on consumers in this way, many women were angry. They felt this was an invasion of their privacy. To prevent this, the retailer did not stop with this tactic but deliberately placed advertisements that generally did not appeal to women next to the desired items. An ad for a lawn mower ended up next to a diaper ad. As long as the pregnant women do not notice that the retail chain is looking at their purchasing behavior and responds to this, it will yield a lot of profit for the chain.
1 in 5 Dutch people will have to deal with depression
4 out of 10 people in the Netherlands suffered from one or multiple mental ilnesses during their life.
Not all scars are visible
Not all scars we bear are visible. Some experiences, trauma or other events can leave deep wounds. But it is precisely these scars that make us who we are and make us strong.
Mental health is an extremely important theme that, fortunately, has received more and more attention in recent years. Making mental health problems discussable is extremely important to end the taboo on this.
Hopefully, relieving the taboo will make people dare to speak up for these problems and find help more easily.
By discussing my own depression and invisible scars I hope to make a positive contribution to this.
What can you do?
- Talk more about themes concerning mental health
- Be clear about your personal boundries
- Try to help others, but never try to be a replacement for professional health
Do you want to share your story (anonymously) via my platform to inspire others?
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