Brandwashed exposes the subliminal marketing tactics companies use to get us to become lifelong customers of their products.

It’s absolutely true that companies are marketing to babies in the womb who hear messages from the outside.

A woman who gains a ton of weight in pregnancy will have a kid that becomes overweight. A woman who eats certain foods when pregnant will have a kid that loves and eats the same food.

So too with product jingles that a baby hears in utero.

Marketing tactics include using preteen girls to stage sleepovers where they give products to other girls so the company can hook customers early.

I’m at the chapter in the book where the author talks about how companies use fear to sell products.

Now: I don’t watch TV at all. I was aghast when a Dove side-of-the-bus advertisement years ago asked “Do your armpits need a makeover?”

The author talks about how Dove instills fear of unsightly armpits in women with its Go Sleeveless product campaign.

I had no idea. I was looking for the Invisible Solid–even though invisible is false advertising because the Dove Invisible Solid left white stains all over my black shirt.

Never mind the stains. Clear gel deodorant also leaves a stain if you don’t wait five minutes before getting into your shirt.

That day I saw a Dove Go Sleeveless deodorant stick on the shelf. Mind you I saw no advertisement for it. I thought it must be the Invisible Solid renamed with a catchy name.

I bought it–not knowing until I read Brandwashed that Dove is allegedly instilling fear of unsightly armpits in American women everywhere.

Who knew? I didn’t.

The plot thickens: the author reveals that a lip balm company uses ingredients that are chemically addictive. I haven’t gotten to that part of the book yet. I wonder who does this.

I recommend that everyone reads Brandwashed.

My take on this is:

You want beautiful armpits? Shave–that’s all. Guys will forever be seduced by your tits not your armpits. As long as you don’t have hairy armpits it doesn’t matter how they look. That’s the truth. The average “pig in a suit” doesn’t care how fat a woman is or how her armpits look as long as he’s going to get laid. That kind of guy would hump a fire hydrant. And a guy who’s respectful of a woman and is looking beyond Saturday night won’t care about your armpits either.

So why should we care about our armpits? Dove has set the women’s movement back 200 years.

My only criteria is: when will a deodorant come along that DOESN’T leave white stains? I could totally be brandwashed by the claim:

NO white stains. EVER.


Common Sense

As a practical matter you don’t want a hypocrite marrying you. You don’t want to force a priest or a minister to marry you who is going to begrudgingly carry out the ceremony.

I say: employ an interfaith minister at a Knights of Columbus Hall or other catering hall and have the wedding where the reception is.

As much as I think this is a victory I also think you don’t want a person who holds you in contempt to be forced to marry you.

That surely won’t start you off right.

Something to think about.

Eva Scrivo on Beauty

I’m reading the book Eva Scrivo on Beauty that the beauty entrepreneur wrote.

With a last name like Scrivo, I wondered if she were Italian. To my surprise and delight, in the book Eva says she comes from a large Italian American family. It always inspires me to read about Italians who are successful and do great things.

The book is an in-depth look at hairstyles, skincare, and also a section on fashion. I found the best benefit of the book was the section that guides you step-by-step through how to blow-dry bangs with pictures of how to hold the hairbrush.

What eluded me even though it was most likely clear was the difference between square and triangular and other types of bangs and layers.

Eva Scrivo writes in a clear, engaging fashion and her book in my view is the best of its kind on caring for your hair and achieving great results.

Even if you are not Italian (I am Italian) this book will be a treat to read. You can check it out of the library if you don’t want to buy it. I recommend buying it.


A Rant Against Capitalism

I’m not a fan of any corporation that puts profits above people.

Most big publishing houses only want to sign on and publish bestsellers like James Patterson novels. They’re not satisfied with earning $950/million because they want only to make $1/billion.

I understand that you’re in business to make money yet this is ridiculous. I invest in stocks and I’m afraid my money is being invested in a company like Monsanto: an agribusiness or biotech firm that creates GMO crops and owns the patent on the seeds the farmers can use.

It’s an ethical dilemma.

Lately: was it Monsanto or DuPont that has begun airing TV commercials praising GMO crops as the solution to the food problems of our planet with billions and billions of people overpopulating it.

No. I don’t think so Monsanto. Or DuPont. Or whoever created that TV commercial. Your crops destroy the planet because they require tons of your pesticides. And how is eating food laden with pesticides actually healthier? And how is polluting the waterways and the earth with pesticides actually helping the planet?

I want to get rich just like the big conglomerates want to get rich. And I don’t want to pay to buy their products that are going to make me sick.

I’m insane. I do not buy products with “natural flavors” because natural flavors are actually fake chemicals and the government allows the companies to call them natural flavors. I eagle-eye the ingredients of any product I buy to eat or drink.

I also eat mostly 90 percent organic food. I eat only organic fruits and vegetables. I don’t eat red meat nor do I eat pork, lamb, veal, or bacon.

I regret my retirement funds might be invested in these kinds of companies.

Yet there is hope in the form of what the founder and CEO of The Container Store calls “conscious capitalism.” He wrote a book titled Conscious Capitalism.

And yes, I’m a big fan of the Container Store. I’ve bought their Elfa rack system to install on my pantry door so I could store more items in the pantry. I’ve bought storage bins I placed on the floor of my closet to hold scarves and gloves.

The Container Store is often ranked one of the top 100 companies to work for. It hires “one great person instead of three good people.” Yes. Yes. And Yes. To that.

There is hope when a company like Lands End does the right thing without giving its customers a hassle.

And I have to give a shout out to Nordstrom. I once returned in the mail a sterling silver ring that arrived looking like a piece of cheap tin. Nordstrom didn’t credit me seven weeks later so I called their (800) number. They had no record that the ring was returned yet took my word and credited me the $30 right when I told them I returned the ring.

I read the book The Nordstrom Way easily 13 years ago. It details this company’s outstanding devotion to superior customer service. In the book it does refer to that fact that Nordstrom employees aren’t union employees and management doesn’t want Nordstrom to be unionized. Be that as it may I’m still a fan of Nordstrom.

Who wants to be subject to surly customer service? Who wants to jump through hoops to get a credit? Who wants to do business with a company whose products are going to make you sick?

I don’t think anyone does.

This is going to be the end of my ranting for now.

I promise to return with something cheery in the coming weeks.


Nothing to Wear?

I just read the book Nothing to Wear?: A 5-Step Cure for the Common Closet by Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo, the founders of Visual Therapy.

You can go on their Visual Therapy website to take the Style Quiz to determine your type.

I’m a Chic/Whimsical type. The quiz is accurate. I also like their website. The book can be read in one or two days. It took me one day to read the book this week. Garza’s and Lupo’s tone is breezy and encouraging not chiding or condescending even though in real life they’re luxury brand consultants.

Imagine: you get the authors’ expertise for free if you check the book out of the library or for under $25 if you buy a good used copy or new copy.

Only the book describes in detail the 5 Style Types not the website. Thus I recommend reading the book at the same time you go online to take the Style Quiz.

The idea of having a capsule collection of clothes comprised of the “cake” and the “frosting” items to wear is the basis of the authors’ approach to styling their clients. You can go on their website to get the (212) area code phone number to find out the fees for sessions with their own style consultants of their company. I guarantee this will cost at least $5,000 so I don’t recommend this option.

I will talk next in here about another option for choosing and using your wardrobe that is one of the best values in town.

Stay tuned.


I Can’t Breathe

Our mayor, Bill DiBlasio, was right to school his black son Dante in what to do if a police officer accosts him. People in the media attacked DiBlasio for doing this, yet the average police officer hasn’t seen photos of Dante, so could very well mistake him for a suspect.

The author of a book, who I sent a message to via her contact form, sent me an e-mail in response. It cheered me that an author, famous in my mind if not in other people’s esteem, responded to me. She had used the term “culturally dexterous” to describe people who are at ease in the world.

Not everyone is culturally dexterous. A white cop on Staten Island killed Eric Garner. Staten Island is a 90 percent Republican stronghold. It’s why I defected from there and moved across the Verrazano Bridge to a borough where everyone lives together in the same neighborhoods: black and white, gay and straight, traditional and trendy.

The worst years of my life were spent on Staten Island. I had to escape that borough. Think of this: it’s on Staten Island where Eric Garner was killed.

Staten Island is a place where you need a car to go everywhere so you’re dependent on foreign oil and the war monger politicians bombing Iraq.

Staten Island is not a place where people are kind to those of us who are different. Most outsiders might not realize it’s a Republican borough.

I can’t breathe. At night my throat is tight now. I literally can’t breathe at night after hearing that the cop was acquitted.

I recommend that anyone who is at all disturbed by this recent news reach out to talk to a person you trust or to a therapist. Hearing news accounts like this can be triggering for a person diagnosed with a mental illness. So reach out and get help if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

I’ll end here by saying that I find it interesting where these crimes occur. A black cab driver in Boston told me he much preferred living in Boston to living in New York City. I’ve yet to hear of these kinds of crimes happening in Boston.

Something to think about. I’m ashamed of my fair city right now.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

When someone tells you that, you listen to them.


Eric Garner

The fact that a cop could place an unarmed person in a choke-hold and kill him proves my point that an officer doesn’t need to shoot a gun to restore law and order.

Eric Garner’s only crime was illegally selling untaxed cigarettes. That sounds like a quality of life crime not a violent crime. He died, and the five guys that assaulted my loved one never got arrested and sent to jail.

Michael Brown obviously hadn’t listened to the lyrics of the Bruce Springsteen song “41 Shots”: you don’t run. You throw up your hands and act polite. It’s better to be falsely arrested (then you can sue) than to be dead.

I used to listen to Bruce Springsteen’s song “41 Shots” every year when a friend and I drove through New Jersey, where the singer is from. It’s a chilling song.

The Jacqueline Woodson teen book If You Come Softly tells the fictional story of what happened to a black male teenager running freely down the street in a white neighborhood. I read it 10 years ago. Art imitates life.

If you run, it’s assumed you’re fleeing because you’re guilty, even if you’re trying to protect yourself.

Boy, am I forever ticked off that my loved one’s assailants weren’t arrested and didn’t serve jail time.

I urge everyone to listen to the song “41 Shots.” It will creep you out, as it’s supposed to do.