Jun 07, 2012|
Whenever I’m finished at the gym, I head to the shower with a tube of resculpting body scrub and a tube of resculpting body gel. Both of these contain green coffee and chili extract to help tone up and slim down one’s hips, thighs and stomach. The thing is, I’m so mortified that people might think I actually believe this stuff works that I always make sure the labels are face-down. So if I’m afraid of my fellow gym-goers seeing me as some kind of gullible yokel who’ll buy any kind of snake oil in an attempt to find a shortcut to shifting the pounds, why on earth am I still faithfully scrubbing and gelling myself, week in week out?
Well, I get lots of free products, and this particular resculpting duo happens to be very nice smelling and pleasant to use, and so it’s no skin off my nose whether it works or not. But there’s a huge industry out there that sells anti-aging this, whitening that, and anti-cellulite everything else. We know that it can’t possibly work—at least, not to the lengths that the manufacturers say it will. But we can’t resist the tantalizing prospect that THIS will be the cream, the supplement, the spa treatment that will finally get us the results we’re looking for.
How do I know that this stuff doesn’t really work? Well, let’s think about it. If the technology to shrink or disappear fat cells was indeed available, then a) obesity would no longer be the biggest health crisis affecting the developed world; and b) any cream capable of such drastic effects would have to be prescribed by a doctor (or at least purchased “under the counter” in a Wan Chai pharmacy). A cream that powerful would no doubt come with a host of crazy side-effects. Come on, drug manufacturers can hardly produce a side-effect free antihistamine. What havoc would a truly effective skin-whitener wreak on your body?
Then there’s the lack of scientific rigor when you’re measuring results. When you’re paying $1,500 per session for a course of slimming treatments at the spa, do you think it’s possible that maybe, just maybe, you’re watching what you eat so as not to undo all the good work your body wraps are doing? People who spend a fortune on whitening creams are unlikely to spend their days in the sun; and people who are dedicated to preserving their face with anti-aging products are probably trying their hardest not to make too many wild facial expressions. Who’s to say whether it’s your creams or your lifestyle that’s shaping your face? Or for that matter, your bottom?
Here’s my theory: in the grand scheme of things, cosmetics don’t really cost that much. Yes the super-premium brands are pricy, but when you’re comparing a luxurious pot of anti-aging night cream to say, an Hermes handbag, you can enjoy a little bit of luxury at a relative bargain. You can’t afford most of the stuff Beyonce has, but for a couple thousand dollars, you can probably buy her skincare. Then there’s the it’s-good-for-you, confidence-boosting factor. If you’re trying to decide between a new beauty product and a pair of jeans to make you feel good, well then, beauty wins every time. You can still use a cellulite cream when you’re having a “fat day” (the same can’t be said for skin-tight denim) and it feels like you’re doing something to improve yourself at the same time. Everyone wants a little luxury and to feel like they’re doing something good for themselves, and buying skin-and body-care products is an affordable way to do that.
So for now, I’m going to keep trying to resculpt myself in the shower. I see it a little bit like gambling: it doesn’t cost much, it’s fun, and I’ve accepted that I’ll probably lose…but you never know. Hope springs eternal after all—and that’s what cosmetics companies are banking on.
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