The Psychology of Bra Shopping: How Advertising Effs Us
Bra fitting is just as much psychological as it is physical.” – April Scotece-Buchanan
Part I of II. In part I, I talk about how advertising can negatively alter our perceptions of ourselves and can set us up for failure. In part II, I talk about how I can help you get around that!
Have you ever been flipping through the channels and found an infomercial that looked utterly ridiculous only to find that 20 minutes later you were still watching?
It started off with you rolling your eyes and laughing hysterically but the more you watch the more you wonder if you really do need a pan that can double as an iron and also plays AM radio. This my friends is the wonderful world of advertising and we are all susceptible, that’s why it’s a multi-billion dollar industry.
One of the most basic advertising gimmicks is the problem/solution concept where a problem is presented and an immediate solution given. Even if the problem makes absolutely no sense we are designed to find a solution. “Does your cat randomly catch on fire whenever your sexy hubby is around? The solution is this glow in the dark magic wand!” Or you know, whatever problem you have.
This advertising may seem harmless on the surface but over time it has the uncanny ability to indoctrinate us into starting to think a certain way. They use buzz words, set specific scenarios, and hire certain actors to get your attention and it’s almost always based on a problem and solution.
For instance…”Are your drains clogged? Use chemical x.” Fair enough. A clogged drain is a problem. Wonderful! I have a possible solution to my drain problem. Somewhere in the middle, they add language/music/etc to convey urgency.
“Unclog your drain before your sink overflows onto your floor and causes even bigger issues.” Well, shit! I have to use this chemical asap. I think we can all agree a clogged drain, in general, can be an issue. Except for maybe a plumber. I believe they would refer to that as an opportunity. Problem – Solution with a bit of urgency thrown in for good measure. Then they tell you what action to take to get it. In the industry, they call this a Call to Action. Call, buy, click, visit…you get the idea.
What happens when the advertising isn’t about something silly or harmless and gets far more personal? This happens all the time in women’s advertising. We are told what our problems are and that we need to fix them. So what exactly are our problems? According to mass advertising…. Everything.
To make matters worse, if you don’t buy into the everything as a problem theory then you will be beaten with the almighty advertising whip until you do. See and hear anything enough times and it becomes the truth. That is how the problem is reinforced, with shame avoidance in hopes that you seek the solution before it’s too late.
For instance…when lip inflation formulas for lipsticks came out. Companies declared it was the solution for all thin-lipped ladies! The only problem is that most women didn’t see a problem since it didn’t exist before. The relentless media went to work with models and actresses flaunting massive lips as the new thing. Before long it was the norm and if you didn’t have those luscious full lips you had a problem.
All the ladies that thought, “WTF! I had no idea my natural lips were a problem.” Suddenly saw one. Moreso they looked in the mirror and saw lots of them. With the most critical of eyes, the thought came, “I see it now. Why didn’t I see it before?”
No matter size or shape, we as women almost always decide we could use whatever they are advertising as a solution to this new problem you were just informed about. Almost before the solution is revealed. Problem-Solution.
A lot of time and money is spent to make you feel like there is a problem and that the solution is just a credit card swipe away. We are bombarded with advertising and media almost 24/7 these days. Listen to the advertising enough about problems that you wouldn’t normally see as an issue until, after a time, the masses all agree that this thing is a real legit problem. Just like that infomercial, how else can you explain the Snuggie? (I have the WonderWoman one…)
A lot of time and money is spent to make you feel like there is a problem and that the solution is just a credit card swipe away.
My mom and her friends didn’t worry about thin or natural lips. It wasn’t a problem. Hell, they were going braless under tube tops and didn’t give a damn about their nipples. I’m assured that this confidence wasn’t 100% chemically induced (It was 70’s, I had to check). Point is that they weren’t scared shitless of their nipples showing!
NOW. I am NOT judging if you feel more covered and secure if you feel like your nipples are concealed. That is just fine. I am sure there were some women during my mom’s time that had those same concerns. But, en mass…not a problem. Yet, still, we are told we have to “fix” our bodies.
VPL or visible panty line is considered a “problem” now. The “solution” is seamless or lay flat styles. The vast majority of ladies garments are inexpensive and mass produced with cheap materials that do not work with our bodies in a flattering way. When women’s clothing was quality made and figure flattering our mom’s and grandmas didn’t even know what this was.
When I was younger, the “fix” to hide panty lines was the thong. So thongs sales skyrocketed during those years. It was the most popular style for years. That is until a new “solution” was designed and marketed.
A socially constructed problem fluctuates with time, styles and technology.
Let’s pause for a moment to mention real problems. A dehydrated child or a life-threatening injury. Follow my line of thinking here? A socially constructed problem fluctuates with time, styles and technology. It is man-made and created from a human mind. Usually for money making purposes somewhere along the way. It’s not really a problem at all. I believe the hip kids refer to this as “first world problems”.
Yet still, whether we want to admit it or not we are all shaped by the media and advertising. I am a product of my world despite deconstructing and analyzing what I am exposed to.
As humans we have learned early on that problem-solution thinking is a direct correlation to necessity. We constantly redefine what we consider a problem the more we are exposed to. It is fluid. And I am here to say I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. However, it can have some negative side effects.
Even though there has been a more recent push in advertising geared toward size-inclusivity and a push towards broadening views of beauty standards there are generations of women who have experienced the trauma of advertising where the effects won’t so be undone. So where does that leave us?
A great professional fitter with top notch product knowledge who listens to what the woman in the dressing room is telling her can show her how easy she is to fit.
Head over to Part II to find out how psychology plays a role in the fitting room and how we can work together to set you up for success!