The Perception Paradox


Every day, in America, the average consumer is exposed to over 5,000 marketing images. Images that tell us what to eat, what to drink, what clothes to wear, as well as what car to drive. Each of these marketing images have been carefully sculpted over the years to cater to the people we are–in the stages of life we are in. Sadly, reality doesn’t have a role anymore in a society that solely deals on perception. Want to show people you’re successful? Go out and buy a Porsche. Want people to think you’re rich? Buy a Rolex. Want to make people think that you’re defying age? Go out and buy Loreal Degenerist. In America, we are measured by success. Want to feel successful? Go out and buy a BMW. However, be careful which model you buy. A BMW 328 might appear to be a nice car to someone driving a Hyundai, but it’s not the same perception from someone driving a BMW 750. In America, in addition to being measured by success, we are also measured by beauty.

Imagine what life must be like for a little white girl living in suburbia. The images of beauty that hit the little white girl are everywhere. They are on the television, on magazines, on billboards and in the public school halls. As humans we have this inherit concern to be loved, to be accepted. This is a mandate set on young women by Hollywood and the advertising elite. At some point in time, every little white girl has dreams and aspirations to look like their favorite celebrity. They get worried over pimples or acne break-outs. They worry about their weight. They worry if their teeth are straight, or not white enough. They over-dramatize their facial features. “My nose is too big”. “I’m too white”. “My hair is too thin”. “My lips are not full enough”. It’s hard to have a sense of worthiness when one compares themselves to the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie, Kim Kardashian, Heidi Klum or such. Rather than focus on the beauty in the mirror they crave the beauty they see on the television, in the magazines and on the billboards. These are things that can be easily obtained, and many teens in America will resort to cosmetic surgery.

Now, imagine what it is like to be a little black girl in America. Who do they look up to? A little black girl will find it hard to look like Halle Berry when her complexion is three to four shades darker, but she can try to look like Viola Davis. Who are the role models that young black girls look up to? Sadly, Hollywood hasn’t created many role models in the black community for young black girls to look up to. They are forced to look in the mirror and accept who they see. It’s an aspiration for all Americans, but are we really bound by aspirations?

The problem that plagues the black community is separation. Light-skinned blacks are viewed more favorable to dark-skinned blacks. This separation is not exclusive in the black community. It goes on in the Latino community. A dark-skinned Dominican is viewed far less than a light-skinned Dominican. In certain families, the dark-skinned Dominican or the dark-skinned Mexican is shunned by their close relatives. Again, who are the shunned to look up to? Surely, there has to be some beautiful dark-skinned brothers and sisters that can be placed in the magazines, in movies or on the billboards. There have been a few, but certainly not enough. This isn’t exclusive to the greatest Nation on Earth. The Continent of Africa has its own set of problems in the black community. In almost every third world nation, skin bleaching cremes are being marketed to dark skinned blacks. All the research suggests that the use of these skin cremes can lead to certain forms of Cancer. Imagine that, people would risk getting cancer than have to live with their dark skin color. A price that isn’t even worth it because most of these cremes don’t work. Instead, the people consuming it get blotchy patches of white skin. They look more like burn victims than that desirable person they wish to be.

There are people, in this Country, that feel the important need to discuss race relations. There are people, in this Country, that feel that black people will advance in society if they simply pull up their pants. There are people who feel that if black people would hit the textbooks instead of the street corners they will have the same access of opportunity afforded to those in the white community. There are people, in this Country, that feel that race is only a problem because of the “race hustlers” and the “racial grievance industry”.

We live in a black and white society. We live in a society mandated by black and white customs. Brides wear white on the greatest day of their lives, while mourners wear black on their most tragic. The helicopter used to transport the President of The United States is referred to as a “white hat”, while all the dirty/secret combat operations ordered by the president are known as “black-ops”. Students who pursue a college doctorate degree are required to write a “white paper”, while high school drop-outs or convicted criminals are known to be the”black marks” of society.

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