Thursday, 17 July 2014

Made to Feel Pretty ... Then Ugly For the Sake of a Sale

Source
I was shopping in the main square of Athens the other day, and something rather disturbing happened to me. It really made me wonder about the absolutely morally demeaning sales tactics of the people I encountered. And I thought it would make an interesting blog post, so here I am.

Let me start from the beginning.

I was in town running some errands. I had a day off work, so I thought I’d wander around and do some window shopping. I really didn’t feel like going home, as I spend the majority of my life at home (I’m a freelancer).

I walked past a marketing stall, and the lovely woman behind it asked me if I’d like to be in a TV commercial advertising some beauty products. EEK! No thanks, I thought, but I’m flattered nonetheless. The lovely woman, with a genuinely sweet smile on her face, asked me why:

“Is it because you’re short on time?”
“No, I just don’t speak Greek that well so I don’t think it would work.”
“You speak Greek fabulously, don’t be silly,” she said.

I laughed and said thank you, and we got into a conversation about where I was from, yada yada yada. You may think I was being being sucked into this, but I knew exactly what was going on. But I had time on my hands, and I didn’t want to go home, so I thought I would play this out and see what happened. Who knows? I might get a story out of it! I thought. (I did, as you can see.)

The conversation on the side of the road ended in her telling me how lovely and white my skin was, and that I must really take care of my skin. “Well,” I said, “I don’t do much at all. I just keep chemical products off my face.” Again, I said thank you for the compliment.

This led to the sales woman telling me about the beauty treatments the salon she works for offers. She said she would give me a voucher for 300 Euros off any treatment I liked, but asked if I would be willing to follow her a few meters down the road, to the building the salon is in, in order to register all my information and speak with a consultant about which treatment to get.

My stomach started to gurgle as I smelled something fishy. I asked, “Okay, I get 300 Euro off, but how much is the treatment to begin with?”

She told me that all prices differed from treatment to treatment and the best way to see what was available and what they cost was to come to the salon.

Okay, I thought. I have a bit of time on my hands, let’s see where this leads. I wouldn’t mind being pampered a bit.

We got to the salon and entered a very very sterile and florescent green waiting room. It was almost like a hospital and I realised that this place was more than just a salon, but somewhere where you could get things like electrolysis done. I internally groaned. I despise this kind of shit. I’m happy with my body the way it is. But ho-hum. I was there. And it was a nice cool place to get some relief from the heat for a few minutes.

The consultant took down my details, and told me what treatments I could get the discount on. I opted to go for a facial. But then she described that it wasn’t a typical facial, but a very unique procedure in which my pores would be chemically treated to allow moisturizer to soak into my skin properly. Or something to that effect. I’m not sure I understood all the technical words in Greek.

And this is where it got ugly.

She began to scrutinize my face, with a rather revolted look on her face. She told me that I had a lot of open pores, unattractive red blotches, and pimples, and asked me if I’d been to see a doctor about it. That a woman my age shouldn’t have skin problems this severe. (SKIN PROBLEMS? SEVERE? What a crock of shit. We get a period every month and the hormones from the period cause pimples. And it was stinking hot outside, of course I was red!)

A doctor? I squealed inside my head. Did she think I was a moron? The only reason she could see any blemishes on my face was because she had a horrid florescent light shining directly into it. None of that stuff is even visible in the daylight.

She then said that their treatment would fix all this stuff up, and it would only cost me ... wait for it ... TWO THOUSAND EUROS after the discount. Of course, the woman’s face was caked in so much makeup I couldn’t even tell if she had a nose.

I scoffed, stood up, and said, “Sorry, I’m not interested, but thanks for your time.” (Yeah, I can’t help but be polite.) Didn’t last long though, because the consultant jumped out of her seat and stood in front of the door, and with a very fake smile said ...

“But don’t you want your husband to love you?”

I imagine it was the horrified look on my face than inspired her to move out of my way. I couldn’t get out of that place fast enough.

When I finally got out of the building, of course, I went into a clothes shop and looked at my face in a mirror. I held a T-shirt up to my torso so I didn’t look like an idiot. Sure, my face had a few blemishes, but who cares? Why the fuck are we so conditioned to think our appearance matters so much? Now, I felt guilty for even considering the woman was right about my face. And I bought the lovely T-shirt I was holding.

At least someone made a sale out of me that day.

Has anyone ever challenged your self-esteem like this? Tell me your story.


Easy Tweet:
A beauty consultant asked: Don't u want yr husband 2 love you? Read the story here: http://goo.gl/kuxlRg #selfesteem #beauty #writers

________Announcements________







____________

Sign up to my newsletter and receive Book #1 of the Writing in a Nutshell Series, Show & Tell in a Nutshell, or Muted: A Short Story in Verse, for FREE.

27 comments:

  1. It might work for a Greek woman but clearly not an Australian. You knew it was a scam and I would know it was a scam. Cultural differences might mean some fall for it but I wonder how many. An interesting tale to put in one of your books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder how many women have fallen for it.

      Delete
  2. That's awful... but the technique must work on some people which is why they use it. And I'm sure husbands aren't shallow enough to fall out of love with a woman with less than perfect skin!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who knows. Some Greek men are very concerned about how their "woman" looks. I once had a boyfriend here who said he would leave me if I ever got cellulite. LOL!

      Delete
  3. Am I the only one who sometimes hits click on the right button which is Sign - out when instinct pushes us toward the right and not Publish on the left?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, I don't have that problem. Other people might though.

      Delete
  4. Wow, that was beyond rude. Sales tactics should never include negative pressure like that. Or lying. Or anything else that woman was doing.
    At least you got a t-shirt out of deal!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it was pretty crazy. I guess they are suffering really badly from the economic crisis here that they're going to ridiculous lengths.

      Delete
  5. Dude, that is NUTS! The thing is, I HAVE had severe acne problems, and it pisses me off that anyone would point to someone with lovely skin like yours and call it severe-anything besides severely beautiful just because they want to make some money. Money can make people do the ugliest things. Annalisa up there is right. Most husbands aren't shallow enough to fall out of love with a woman with less than perfect skin. My husband certainly didn't during the entire time I was battling my skin issues. And I didn't fix 'em by going to a "salon".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have had severe acne in the past too. My skin is angelic now compared to then. LOL

      Delete
  6. I've had something similar happen to me, though it was here in America. It is, I think maybe, a sort of 'Mediterranean' thing and mindset, because in both incidents, the beauty products being sold were being touted by either a Greek or Italian, and both used lines like 'Don't you want your boyfriend/husband/girlfriend (whatever) to love you and want you?' and 'You have such beautiful features, but in a few years, if you don't do this now, they won't be the same. You'll look older, and you don't want that, do you?'

    In huge contrast, during the time I spent in Ireland, any 'beauty pitches' I got were more along the lines of 'This will shield that fair skin from the sun, you don't want to get cancer!' or 'This soap will get all the dirt/farm crud off your hands without making your skin rough!' and the Irish people seemed to very much embrace the 'You should look as though you have lived life, and loved, life to the fullest. Not like you sat aside from the world to preserve something as ephemeral as skin tone.'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh wow, that's interesting Artemis. Yes, it's definitely got something to do with cultural differences.

      Delete
  7. Eeewww. Wonder if it's a tourist trap of some sort since it's in the heart of Athens. Hateful. Yes, I have had my self-esteem damaged - My last husband fell for me when I was thin and when I gained weight, he fell out of love. I wish with all my heart that our world wasn't so focused on outward appearances.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder that on a daily basis. I still look in the mirror and think about things I want to fix. I've been doing some low-key dumbbell lifting recently to get rid of my arm flab, as really really bad arm flab runs in my family. I honestly don't know why I'm concerning myself so much with it. But it makes me feel better to try and prevent it.

      Delete
  8. Blimey! Glad you saw through it but me on a bad day? Probably would have cried all the way home. I certainly wouldn't have gone for the treatment because I suspect that spending that much money would have got me sectioned!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I cringed reading your day, your experience! Stepford Wife-programmed robot. Yes, this cream, shrunken pores, and the latest greatest diet will cure you so you will be loved- I want to barf! I am so sorry you had to go through this. My whole life I have had people talk about me-my face, my weight, my hair-like I was deaf. WTH This is a world wide issue-the virus of eternal youth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know. It's pretty sickening. I hate feeling like I should look perfect all the time. But I can't get those stupid thoughts out of my head. And most of the time, I don't look perfect. I look like a slob (as I work at home and get lazy to dress, ha!) And then I get depressed about it. So silly.

      Delete
    2. Oh, Jessica. This is sooooooo me. I get stupid thoughts in my head and then I get depressed and cry about that. Then my husband comes home and tells me he loves me and I even question that, until he hugs me and then I'm ok.....

      Delete
    3. I'm Gabrielle, by the way x

      Delete
    4. I'm sure we're not alone in this way of thinking, Gabrielle!

      Delete
  10. Not just in Greece, this happens globally. I’m an esthetician (31 years and counting) and I read your piece knowing how common this type of sales tactic is.

    You hit a point by asking why we think our appearance matters so much. It matters because we (us women - men don’t seem to be as susceptible) don’t trust our inner voice.

    Maybe it’s been quieted by watching our mothers agonize over their appearance, or maybe it’s the belief that someone wearing a white lab coat knows best… not sure why some gals bought the farm on this one, but they did.

    To change this ‘judging the cover’ mentality we, collectively, need to stop buying into the bullshit.

    In my many years of sitting opposite a very eclectic group of woman I can safely say the most beautiful are those that smile; lines, wrinkles, and blemishes, all get lost in a natural smile.

    I’ve told my clients a good skin care routine matters, just like eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercise (physical and mental) all matter too.

    To single out a red patch or a blemish as the defining characteristic is shallow and commercial. It only works if we let it - and you did not. For that I salute you.

    For as long as I can remember I have looked in the mirror and told my reflection that I am happy with what I see - all of me, in its many forms of change as I pass through life. I embrace me… without validation from anyone. Love me as I am, for I love me as I am. I sell that as much as I sell creams.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. And thank you for commenting. It must really be a challenge being an esthetician! But it sounds like you're approaching it in all the right ways.

      Delete
  11. I don't know...I sort of go for the blotchy, ass-pimplish, red-faced look.

    ReplyDelete
  12. There is nothing uglier to me (in the physical, superficial sense) than a face that is so covered up as to erase a person's individuality. When I was in ninth grade, and my first real boyfriend invited me to homecoming, my mom decided to treat me to a professional make-over for the big day. We went to one of the big department stores and I sat at the make-up counter while some strange woman applied stuff to my face while telling me how pretty I was...blah blah blah. I thought it was cool to have someone professional do my makeup. I never wore it, so I didn't know how to apply it, and it was homecoming after all! But when she was done, and I looked in the mirror, I was horrified! Everything that made my skin look like skin was covered up. Not a freckle in sight! I didn't look like me at all. I almost burst into tears upon seeing myself in the mirror, but I sucked it up, went home to get my fancy dress on, and ended up having a great time at homecoming. I have never worn so much makeup since, not even on my wedding day. And my husband loves me. Freckles, pimples, wrinkles, and all!

    ReplyDelete

  13. Find best Online Jobs on Facebook...
    JobzCorner

    ReplyDelete

“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland

“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris