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Friday, August 05, 2005

Feeling good in your skin

Three Marines parked their Humvee next to a green recruitment tent at the amusement park. They didn't have fly paper, but not to worry. They had something better. They had a pull-up bar.

How did I ever do 17 pull-ups in a row in 9th grade? Those Marines must have been snickering inside, as I dropped to the ground in defeat. I hadn't done a single one. Back home, "get fit" program # 257 actually lasted a little longer this time, but inevitably, ended with less-than-spectacular results. No, that's not my bicep to the left. My photo shoot for the cover of Men's Health? That will just have to wait.

The French have a saying: "Il est bien dans sa peau." Literally, it means "He's good in his skin." Doesn't matter if you're "easy on the eyes" or not. It simply acknowledges the confidence a person exudes, that they're comfortable being who they are.

Dove soap is doing something heretical right now. In an ad campaign, they're featuring women who are less-than-thin. They aim to sell soap, of course, but also to make women who wear size 6 to 12 feel comfortable with themselves, to feel good in their skin. They're not dangerously overweight, or anorexic. They're just...average. Average is OK.

If I wore a hat, I'd take it off to Dove. Now, will someone please do the same for boys and men? Do you ever wonder how many media messages young men get every day, from the checkout stand at Walmart, to the fight games on Play Station, to the worship of ripped male celebrities on TV and the internet? How many times a day does a young man have to see "washboard abs" to realize he doesn't have any? Is it any wonder that more of our boys are taking steroids, not just to perform better in sports, like suspended Baltimore Oriole Raphael Palmeiro, but simply to "look good"? Ah, but how much money would product manufacturers make if a sudden wave of satisfation swept over us like a tsunami? To sell something, you have to make someone unhappy with their present condition. Understand that basic principle of advertising, and you've won half the battle.

So, guys, you don't look like an Olympic swimmer? Not many of us do. That doesn't mean you're a loser. Take a walk, jog a few laps, ride your bike, get your heart pumping a bit every day. But most of all, enjoy what you do best, and chuck the media messages. They just want your cash. Time to feel good in your skin!

Photo courtesy of Flickr


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