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  • Writer's pictureLee-Anne Carter

Can we always believe the marketing data?

Why is it that we still see people posting a – quite frankly heavily photoshopped – image of them looking deadly attractive in a selfie pose, or contrived setting to announce – “Hey, I got the job!”

And why is it to a fault, mainly young women (or should I say, non-identified persons with seemingly feminized attributes)?

I would have thought that in this day and age of inclusivity and non-delineation of gender, where we should not be defined (and rightly so) by the colour of our hair or our “perceived” abilities, through to our party preferences, this would hold a question mark. When we have effectively entered the “no-label” era, propelled by a younger generation (big high five) doing away with so many defining – not to mention limiting – attributes, I am at a loss to understand how an unrelated (however attractive) image of oneself announcing a new role is part of the package?

There is never any information in the image – it does not come with a uniform, or a background that denotes the style or type of work they have landed – it just appears as a piece of self-promotion for themselves (not the role), in a kind of attractive “instaworthy” setting.

To a fault, there are never any unattractive images – that I have seen at least – for this phenomenon.

I don’t wish to appear negative, most of us have an image for our LinkedIn profile - me included - it just gave me pause for thought as I reacted to the 17th, “Hi, I am so grateful I got the job” image I had seen today (and before any of you ask – yes, I have a job that I love). Images of Jayne in a bikini by the beach, Jayne photoshopped in a bedroom with a wrinkle-free visage and plumped lips staring seductively into the camera, Jayne laughing hilariously alone, on a beach …. You never see Jayne with a muffin top in an office door frame, or Jayne with eye bags in front of a computer, or even Jayne looking normal in a natural at work or WFH scenario.

Nope, Jayne is always polished, impeccable, fun-loving, searingly attractive and having a great time looking fabulous in a fanciful setting.

Maybe that is why Jayne got the job?

Trouble is Jayne is nowhere near work – or maybe, to be fair, Jayne works from her bed. Lucky Jayne then.

And, before everyone trolls me saying that I seem to be bitter and twisted that Jayne (gender-neutral spelling) got a job, and why shouldn’t Jayne post her holiday snaps to announce it? – they are missing the core of my concern.

I love that Jayne got a job (might be a book in that), my major concern, as a researcher and analyst, is primarily how skewed – or real – is our data?

For years we have been relaying facts and figures in relation to Millennials, Gen Z, Gen Alpha – you name it – determined by what they themselves have been recording and promoting. We have been accessing and analyzing what these consumer cohorts think and feel to track and trace their every movement, and advise businesses on where-to-next scenarios, how to engage, what to do – and equally what not to do – and yet some of it is definitely not adding up.

Younger consumers emphatically state that they desire inclusivity, individuality, no labels, non-gender delineation, no pigeon-holing boxes – the list goes on – above all else. They sincerely, hand on heart, report that they desire reality in all things, transparency in offering, and an end to constant photoshopping and the creation of Social Media Anxiety (a real symptom caused by trying to emulate people’s photoshopped, glamorous and seemingly exclusive picture-perfect lives portrayed on social media platforms).

Call me old-fashioned, but isn’t this just another way of doing just that, however unintended?

Of course, the generations are segmented – there is no one-size-fits-all policy in an entire age range. Gen Z has been effectively broken into Gen We/Gen Me (Jayne is of course Gen Me), but it was considered a nearly 50-50 split. From what I am seeing Jayne and co. are taking up the lion’s share of the sector.

In the interest of this debate, I will reiterate: I seriously love that people are getting hired, and that they are proud of their achievements, that they want to shout it from the rooftop.

Good for you I say, and yes you can share your joy, actually you should – we could all do with some more good news in this world – but therein lies my question. Can we not share our success without a heavily altered image of ourselves in an exotic setting to announce it?

“Hey, I am feeling so incredibly blessed I landed my dream role,” is one thing. Saying this accompanied by a picture of yourself in lingerie in the Bahamas takes it somewhere else.

So, my question remains, if we don’t want to be defined by what we look like – and we definitely SHOULD NOT – if we have had to work so hard to get there, to make this a universal truth, why are we undermining it – in my opinion – by posting a heavily altered image that defines us by preconceived notions and hold us up to a perceived – and generally outdated - measure of attractiveness and lifestyle standards?

Trust me, I do get the irony in the fact that I have a picture on my LinkedIn profile - and it does not show my muffin top – but to be fair it was taken at work, and in a work outfit.

But, more seriously what I am really trying to get to grips with is; a picture is fine, it is nice to see the face behind the post, but a heavily doctored buy-in worshipping at the altar of beauty, and the slippery slope of idealized lifestyle is perhaps not in line with the values we are so readily espousing?

At the core of it I guess I am just trying to find out - do we really believe what we say, or are we just paying lip service to what we think people want us to say, what they want to hear?

I am beginning to think that Jayne tells Porkie Pies, and I say that with much trepidation because you can actually lose your job saying things like that.

But then again, I could lose my job espousing values to guide businesses that are simply not upheld.

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