I purchase shoes from “The Walking Company,” a company that touts itself as being the “world’s largest selection of comfort footwear.” I don’t know if that claim is true. I haven’t visited enough of the world to compare The Walking Company’s footwear selection to other store selections. I do know that through The Walking Company, I purchase comfortable, cute clogs. I know that periodically The Walking Company will mail me catalogs. And it is in these catalogs that I find a great discrepancy.
Must be years of critical thinking classes paying off, but I can’t help but look through my catalog and notice something blatantly missing from the glossy photos on each page. The photos don’t actually show the models wearing the shoes. There are photos of a waitress, shown from the waist up, holding a tray which contains clogs. There is a photo of a woman in a bright sundress, walking on a beach, but the photo doesn’t show her feet. Another picture shows a chef squeezing a lemon onto a salad, but again, the shot is from the waist up. And on the page advertising all-purpose sandals, there is a woman wearing a bikini top.
What messages are being conveyed? Wearing the sandals will give me a bikini-ready body? Wearing the clogs will leave me with a smile on my face, much like the waitress’s?
My college professors should smile proudly. I was listening. I paid attention. I know that advertisers are manipulating me - all the time. They are trying to sell me things you can’t buy - things like happiness and a slender body.
I shop from The Walking Company despite their ads not because of them.