Oh the shame…
Vulnerability. Low self-worth. Shame. These are the feelings I work hard to suppress. Every. Day. Just about the time I think I’ve outgrown those fears – when I feel stronger, brighter, more mature, more confident – a wave rolls in. What the hell?
Recently, on our vacation trip to Vegas, I got a good dose of insecurity and self-loathing. I was doing just fine – smooth sailing, minding my own business and from out of nowhere came “Jacob”. He was a handsome young man, well-dressed, friendly and handing out free samples in front of a little store in the mall. Free foot lotion samples. Lovely. He introduced himself then asked me to come into the store where he could give me a treatment that would help the dark circles under my eyes. I would like to make those disappear, wouldn’t I? My husband and I reluctantly walked into the store. Foolishness!
Jacob was a well-trained salesman – speaking in a calm, soothing voice, with a thick middle eastern accent; he recited facts about aging, skin, the products he was hocking. He was well-versed about skin care, how the skin breaks down, the layers of skin, blah, blah, blah. At that point, I’m still feeling okay. He puts his “miracle” cream under one eye – all the while talking to my husband and I – some small talk and some sales rhetoric…within minutes, the dark circle under my left eye IS lighter and the skin IS tighter. Tada! (Side bar: I’ve seen videos about this product on facebook – it really does work! But here’s the rub, you don’t use it during the day–only at night. So the benefit of the fact that it holds your skin tighter is lost on the wee hours of the morning as you sleep! Minor detail Jacob neglected to mention! SUPPOSEDLY, using it every night for one week will show improvement and then you just do a maintenance treatment of once a week…jury is still out on the actual “noticeable improvement”!)
Jacob promises to fix the other eye as well but, in the meantime, he starts to pitch a face peel product. Using the inside of my wrist, he shows how the peel very simply takes off the first layer of skin and makes the arm SO SOFT and with a little moisturizer it is so much more incredibly soft than the other arm! Imagine if that was my face!? Tremendous. Now, he starts to introduce the topic of cost…I am normally a hard sell. I do NOT spend money on frivolous things like face creams (which explains why I have such dark circles and wrinkled skin!). Let the manipulation persuasion begin! The tactics were covert and indirect — passively demeaning. Here are some examples:
- You are a mother aren’t you? How many children do you have? You always sacrifice your needs for your children, don’t you?
- Why wouldn’t you want to look better?
- These products won’t change how you look, you will just look like you used to look 10 years ago. Same you, just the younger version.
- If you spend this amount, will it take away from your house payment or other necessary bills? (In other words, are you too poor to buy this?)
- Why wouldn’t you spend this amount on yourself? Don’t you deserve to feel better about yourself?
- When we are finished here, I’m going to give you a free treatment to help you get rid of your jowels and your loose neck skin.
- If you could choose, which would you improve first – your eyes, your jowels or your neck?
Just about the time I was ready to get up out of the chair, he would say that he needed to fix my other eye so that I wouldn’t look lopsided and he would do that BUT…..and then he would launch into another tactic. An hour and a half later and two FREE treatments under my belt, my husband and I finally walked out of there! And, as much as I hate to admit it, I did buy some of the product. I spent FAR TOO MUCH money and bought stuff that, while it will last 2 years (woohoo!), I may never use?? Oh sure, I have good intentions but, like anything, you lose interest after a couple of weeks. Since I did spend what I consider a small fortune on this stuff, I will use it come hell or high water!
The final outcome is that I am upset with myself for falling for the malarkey. Jacob played on all of my weaknesses and I fell for it. Yes, I hate my dark circles, jowels and turkey neck – OF COURSE I DO! When I walked into the store, I was feeling fine – knowing that I’m aging but being okay with it. When I walked out, I felt that nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach. Do I look older than I thought? Is it THAT noticeable to everyone? And on top of that, I felt SICK at having spent that much money for LOTIONS AND PEELS! For heavens sake!
The shame of it all followed me all that day. That night, I told my husband I was going to return everything for a refund. I was livid and ashamed that I had been so easily manipulated. My husbands response was not to worry about it…I didn’t return to the store (frankly, the thought of returning was equally humiliating!). The whole episode has nagged me ever since. I’ve been using the product and I don’t doubt that it has improved my skin (wishful thinking?) but I am bothered by how easily I lost my confidence – it only took a matter of minutes and I felt like I was a teenager again, worried about being judged for my gangly appearance and pale face with bug eyes! I consider myself a strong woman and I’m embarrassed that I didn’t walk out after the first 10 minutes (which was my first instinct)!
After I got home I sheepishly looked at the receipt and was surprised to find written in bold letters on the customer copy, “NO REFUNDS”. Tells you something, doesn’t it? I’m not the only person who had buyers remorse — obviously, it was an issue or they wouldn’t print it directly on the receipt! No money-back guarantees…. I learned my lesson. When approached with free samples – a strong but polite “NO THANKS” will serve me well.
I am aging. I have dark circles under my eyes, laugh wrinkles, jowels and a turkey neck — my belly is jelly, my triceps are saggy, and my legs are cottage cheesy. Such is life. No amount of money, lotions or fear-mongering can truly change any of that. And why would I? I’m here, vertical and happy to be such. Can’t get any better than that! If wishing for something different makes you feel bad – stop wishing for something different. What is real? What really matters?