For Sale: Sexy Hair


I found myself absent-mindedly flipping through OK! Magazine recently when I stumbled across this advertisement:

sexyhair 1

Normally, I would have flipped past it without giving it much thought, but for some reason on this particular day it caught my eye. We had been talking in my Analysis of Discourse class about how ads sell an idea as much as a product, so I couldn’t help but wonder what idea this ad was trying to sell.

It was pretty obvious based on both the demographic of the magazine and the design of the ad that its intended audience was female, so I knew fairly quickly that its message must be aimed at women as well. I know the market for feminine hair care products is tight and competitive with an overwhelming amount of options out there, so advertisers have to do whatever it takes to make their product stand out in a crowd. For the SexyHair company, that means paying to have the late Marilyn Monroe as the face of their brand.

Unlike endorsement from a living celebrity, including Marilyn Monroe in an ad does not suggest that she actually used the product. Instead, it seems to suggest that the ideas usually associated with her can also be applied to the product. Therefore, I had to figure out what it was about Marilyn that SexyHair wanted consumers to associate with their product.

As long as I can remember, I have known that Marilyn Monroe was an icon. When I hear her name or see her picture, I am reminded of fifties glamour: she is the most well-known example we have of what high fashion and beauty looked like at that time. As I got older, I learned that she was also a sex symbol and was involved in various scandals.

It makes sense, then, that a company called SexyHair that sells beauty products might want to associate their image with Marilyn’s. By doing so, they not only offer consumers a hair product, but rather the opportunity to achieve the kind of allure that Marilyn Monroe is famous for. In essence, the heart of their message is that their product line can make women timelessly beautiful.

If this were the extent of the ad’s message, it would be fairly reasonable. But a closer look reveals that it may go a little deeper.

This particular ad is for Vibrant Sexy Hair, a line of hair products for color-treated hair. This simple fact tells us that its creators are trying to reach women who dye their hair. If the ad is telling women that SexyHair products can help them look like Marilyn Monroe, then it must also be saying that in order to look like her, they have to change the way they look. Platinum blond is not a natural hair color, after all.

It seems, then, that the ad is selling women the idea that beauty does not come naturally to them. Instead, it’s something they have to change themselves to achieve.

Most people are aware that because of Marilyn Monroe’s celebrity status, her image was carefully controlled. There were people whose entire job was to decide what she should wear and how she should look, as is the case with most people who spent a lot of time in the spotlight. Even her name changed when she became a star (she was born Norma Jeane). By associating their products with her, SexyHair tells women that they too can be beautiful…if they are willing to carefully control their image.

Because Marilyn Monroe passed away long before I was ever born, I never saw her grow and change the way I did other celebrities. I’ve only ever known one image of Marilyn. The fact that she died young means that she is forever remembered as young. SexyHair’s use of her image equates beauty with youth, implying that aging is inherently not beautiful. Most women who dye their hair do so to hide signs of graying, so to sell their products, SexyHair is reinforcing the idea that gray hair is something to hide.

By no means is SexyHair the only company that sells women this idea, nor is OK! Magazine the only media outlet where women see these messages. Women are constantly bombarded by advertisements of this nature from every direction, and it has a devastating effect on their self-esteem. The message that they way we look naturally is not beautiful is so dangerous, and on some level we have all come to believe it.

It’s time to stop telling women that they have to look like someone else to be beautiful, that they have to change themselves because the way they look naturally isn’t good enough. It’s time to start telling them that they are uniquely designed with a one-of-a-kind beauty all their own.

Has an advertisement ever made you feel bad about the way you look? Have you felt compelled to buy certain products to try to change your natural appearance? If you’ve seen the effects of ads like this in your own life or in the life of someone close to you, share your experiences in the comments below. It’s always comforting to know we’re not alone in the struggles we face, and an open, honest conversation about this all-too-common issue could give us the opportunity to encourage and build one another up.



DeAnna: Old English Name Meaning “From the Valley”

Hello again. I just realized a few days ago that I’ve been back in my homeland for twice as long as I was away. Even though on one hand the London Semester seemed to fly by, it also felt like a lifetime. It still doesn’t feel like I’ve been back half as long as I was gone.

The more I think about it, the more it reminds me of the classic plot in kid shows when the characters travel through a portal to another time and place. Every time, they spend ages and ages on the other side of the portal, then return home to find out only a few minutes passed. London feels like that.

It’s weird the way time passes, how it seems to move faster at some moments in our lives than others. And we’re different people at different moments in our lives, too. I felt like I was a completely different person while I was in London than I used to be. At the time, I assumed I was just growing up and transitioning. That was true to an extent, but not entirely. It wasn’t a phase I gradually slipped into and out of. It was a sudden, drastic change both at its start and at its finish.

I’m not the same person I was in London either, nor the person I felt I was becoming, nor the way I was before. Rather, it feels like I’ve been three separate Kelsies in the past year. There’ve been lots of different versions of me over the years, and I’ve had other drastic changes before, too. This one just stands out because I’m more self aware than, say, just-started-driving-a-car Kelsie or recent-high-school-graduate Kelsie.

I’ve had all this on my mind lately mostly because I’m about to become legal-adult Kelsie tomorrow. Turning 16 was big, and turning 18 was even bigger, but turning 21? It’s the last and biggest time I get to have a significant birthday. I know that who I am right now at this man-made crux isn’t necessarily who I’ll be in a year or even a month, but for some reason it feels like I have some great responsibility to decide exactly what grown-up me is going to be like forever.

Just a few years ago, I would have believed that as gospel truth. As a kid, I thought once you grew up, you stopped growing. As a teenager, I knew people kept growing in adulthood, but I still thought their changes only occurred in a straight line. Only recently have I realized that the phases of life are ups and downs all the way to the end. From my parents to my grandparents to my great grandparents, people change day to day. Not every little change is positive: sometimes we change for the worse before we get better.

I heard talk of “mountains” and “valleys” all my life, almost always in reference to times of blessing and times of trouble. I had no idea the ups and downs of my life would have a whole lot more to do with changes in who I am than changes in my situation.

No matter who I am tomorrow, I don’t have to resign myself to being the same the next day or the day after that. It’s scary and comforting at the same time to know that I haven’t been every Kelsie that I’m going to be. There are lots of versions of me still to come.

Writer’s Blog

School has been in session for nearly 2 months now, and it’s been longer than ever since I wrote a blog post. For that I apologize, but I won’t beat myself up about it too much because I’ve been busy. Each day starts at 9 or 9:30 am and doesn’t end until 7 or 8 pm, and that’s just when I get back to my room at night. I work 20 total works per week across my 2 on-campus jobs, and I’m taking 16 hours of classes. Finding enough time beyond that to get all my homework done keeps me on my toes.

I’m having a blast, though, and I wouldn’t change things for the world. It feels great to be back in the middle of on-campus life with fun little adventures to take part in left and right. Lovely fall weather is finally here, my classes are all going well, and I’m starting to feel like a writer again. It’s taken awhile, but I think I’m finally ready to overcome the persistent writer’s block that’s been hindering me for the last couple of years. So in spite of being busy all the time, I’m going to dedicate more time to blogging. It’s about time I say something.

This is a resolution. From now on, this blog is going to be a real outlet for my creativity. It’s going to be a real place where I put my gift to use. I don’t know if God made me a great writer or even a good writer, but I know He made me a writer.

Let’s start over, shall we?

Hello, world. My name is Kelsie, and I’m passionate about a lot of things. Most of all, though, I’m passionate about words. I recently tweeted for the National Day on Writing (#NDOW #WhyIWrite) that I write because words are the most powerful tool humans have, and I wholeheartedly believe that’s true. The words we use are so important.

Just a few words have the power to change so much, from whether a person is having a bad day to whether a day is going to go down in history. Because I know how significant words can be, and also just because I love them so much, I started a blog in January. At first, I just used it to document the events of my life, which at that time involved the London Semester and a bunch of exciting other-side-of-the-world happenings. But since I got back to the States, I’ve been feeling like I ought to be using it for more.

Sometimes it’s really scary that I know I’m called to write but have no idea what I’m called to write. Sometimes it’s scary enough to keep me from writing anything at all. But I’m tired of being scared. I’m bigger than writer’s block. More importantly, God’s bigger than writer’s block. Scared or not, I’m resolving right now to trust in His calling and put my fingers to the keys even when I don’t know what to say.

Junior Year: Fall Semester Begins

July is long gone, and August is following closely behind it. That means I’ve been back in the States for well over three months. It definitely doesn’t feel like I’ve already been back longer than I was gone.

As I previously mentioned, I spent the summer living in Clinton with a friend and working at MC. Elementary Spanish ended with the month of July, so up to this point August has just been a month of working. Fall semester started this week, though, so my life is about to get interesting again.

I’ve been back living the old dorm, cafeteria food, packed schedule life for almost a full week now, and I’m loving it. I’m really excited to be surrounded by all my friends again. It’s been too long since all I had to do was go for a short walk to hang out with my friends. I’m also excited because I’m taking a lot of fun courses this semester.

In some ways, starting junior year feels a lot the same as starting sophomore year felt. Quite a lot has changed since then, though. This year, I have a boyfriend, a new roommate – a friend I went to London with – and a brand new haircut!

A lot can happen in a week when you’re in college. I feel like I’m already settling into the rhythm of my new schedule, and it’s barely even started. I’ve managed to spend time with a bunch of my friends over the course of a few short days. Of course, I know the busyness of this week was nothing compared to what most of the weeks of this semester will be like. In just a few weeks, rush will begin, and those of us in the “clubs” and “tribes” at MC will be dedicating most our time to the freshmen joining our ranks.

One thing I’ve learned in college is the importance of just doing what you want to do. You can’t always wait until you have extra time because that extra time may never come. Sometimes you have to just roll with the punches and do something spontaneous and adventurous without planning out the specifics ahead of time. For example, my roommate and I decided to go out and get chalk today so we could decorate outside our door because we knew we might not have a chance once the semester heats up. That’s a pretty mild example, I know, but you get the idea.

To make a long story short, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to. I feel like I’m constantly watching myself grow and change as a person, and I’m really excited to discover what that means for the upcoming months. I can’t wait to see who I’ll be by the year’s end.

Hola amigos y familia

You may be wondering what happened to me after I returned to the United States. Last you heard, I was busying around back home, having a root canal, and spending time with friends and family. That was over two months ago. Since then, as you might imagine, a lot has happened.

For the remainder of May and nearly all of June, I spent most of my days just relaxing at home. I tried to find a job and filled out a lot of applications, and I even had a couple of interviews, but no one wanted to hire someone who would only be available for a limited time. The only thing that really happened during that time was summer youth camp at Antioch House of Prayer in Abingdon, VA, during the last full week of June.

On June 29th, I moved into a house in Clinton with a friend in order to take a summer class this month at MC. I’m taking Elementary Spanish II, the second half of first year Spanish, so I can take second year Spanish next year and be finished with my foreign language core requirement before my senior year. I’m hoping to be completely finished with core classes before I’m a senior.

Taking a single class isn’t the only thing I’m doing this month. I’m also working on campus in Computer Services and the Writing Center. I’m spending most of my free time knitting and watching TV with my new roommate. I’m also visiting different churches in and around Clinton and thinking about opening an Etsy store to sell some of my old clothes.

I’ve almost been back as long as I was gone, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way. Summer has been passing so quickly. In just over a month, fall semester will begin, and I’ll be back in the old swing of things. In a way it doesn’t quite feel right anymore. I’m not sure if London did it to me or if this happens to most college students when they’re about halfway through with their degree, but I’m starting to feel like I’m ready to move on.

Freshman year, I thought I would never want to graduate and would be sad when the time came, but I’ve still got two years left and I’m already excited about moving to the next stage of my life. Maybe it’s because of some unexpected changes in my life, or maybe it’s because of changes in me. In any case, for the first time in my life, I’m really excited about fully stepping into my adult life in a couple of years.