You are what you read

And sometimes, you read what you are. Today I read not one, but TWO articles on Slate which touched a personal nerve, and even relate to the world of visual communication… so I’ll share links.

First: I really don’t like Victoria’s Secret’s advertising, stores, or general brand identity. Victoria’s Secret portrays underwear as a means to only one end–making women desirable to men. In the VS catalogue, the models pose in the weird Sport Illustrated Swimsuit Edition poses–including the fascinating favorite, squeezing their boobs together between their upper arms! Quick! Someone tell Gisele Bundchen she looks silly!

But. I do like Victoria’s Secret underwear! And I’ve always felt bad about it, as if by wanting the underwear I’m buying into the inferiority complex that VS is pushing. But this short article by E.J. Graff suggests that you can like a company’s product while rejecting the methodology they use to sell it. I’m not sure if that’s completely true, but I hope that it is, and it makes me feel much better about liking Victoria’s Secret.

Second: Taking photos of yourself for the web! Good gourd! Talk about a seemingly small event that actually speaks volumes about the human psyche. From the inception of my MySpace persona, I’ve been completely interested in how personality, and, more importantly, vanity, is transmitted through MySpace profile pics.

A few theories on this:

–The vast majority of people, including but not limited to MySpace users, are vain. Meaning they want to be perceived as good-looking and popular. It’s just the way people are.
–Even though people are vain, they don’t want to be PERCEIVED as being vain. Myself included.
–Most people are lousy at hiding the vanity. Upon looking at the typical person’s MySpace set of profile pics, you’ll see the hallmarks of vanity everywhere: weird angles, weird crops, etc, etc. Shudder!
–Some people try to remove themselves from this strange scene by not posting images of themselves at all. To quote Slate writer Michael Agger: “… the resisters, … don’t want any image of themselves online. If forced into a corner, they put up something jokey or ironic.” It’s hard for me to pin down why I don’t like this approach. Maybe because it’s fear-based for some people. Maybe because the “I’m not vain” approach is just another form of vanity. Or maybe cause it’s just no fun to look at someone’s profile pictures and not be able to tell what they look like.
–In short, you’re dammed if you do and you’re dammed if you don’t.

Some more great insights here.

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